Long-term Economic Outcomes Of Refugees In Canada

One of the ways to measure how well certain groups of immigrants have integrated into Canadian society is to assess how they performed in the labor market.

Statistics Canada carried out a study on refugees in Canada in 2003. The study compares and contrast four different cohorts of refugees, how each category fared in getting jobs, and how many needed social assistance.

Refugees in Canada who come via the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program are chosen  abroad either as privately sponsored refugees, or government-assisted refugees. Some refugees who make claims in Canada pass through the In-Canada Asylum Program. A refugee claimant is an individual who has lodged a refugee claim but has not received legal status from the Canadian government.

Canada’s immigration department issues open work permits to refugee claimants so that they can work while awaiting a decision on their claim.

Those who come from overseas have access to federally-funded settlement services prior to arrival or immediately upon landing.

Researchers in this study compared refugees who became Canadian  permanent residence with privately sponsored refugees, government refugees, and claimants who did not later become Canadian permanent residents over the period of study. Statistics came from landing records, and taxation data.

Privately sponsored refugees claimants who got PR to see high employment rates

In the first five years after arriving Canada or making a claim, privately sponsored refugees have the Largest employment rates. This could be partially due to their sponsorship network, and because they are more likely to speak French or English upon arriving in comparison to government assisted refugees.

Refugee claimants who received Canadian permanent residence reached near the same level with privately sponsored refugees after four years. After year six they had the biggest rates of employment.

The part of government assisted refugees who had employment income increased steadily in the first four to five years, eventually settling at Seventy-two (72.4) per cent thirteen (13) years after landing. Those refugee claimants who did not obtain  Canadian permanent residence reported income at a rate of about fifty (50) per cent throughout the period.

Privately sponsored refugees in Canada reported the highest income

Of those refugees who were employed, income rose significantly for all study groups except for refugees who didn’t become Canadian permanent residents, though this group saw a mild increase in income.

Privately sponsored refugees remained the top earners throughout the thirteen (13)-year period, followed by refugees who became Canadian permanent residents. These sponsored refugees had an average income of over $35,000 after Eleven (11) years.

Though government assisted refugees started off as the lowest income earners, but eventually surpasses non-permanent residents income after four (4) years.

Rates of social assistance reduced for all groups in time

After the first year, about two thirds of the refugees who got Canadian permanent residence and refugees who did not get social assistance. Although these rates were a little lower than government assisted refugees, they were bigger than privately sponsored refugees.

The lower rate of social assistance among privately sponsored refugees can be due to the conditions of refugee sponsorship. Sponsors must agree to provide the refugees with accommodation, care, settlement assistance and support for the sponsorship period, which is normally one year.

After this first year, the rate of social assistance increases from 18.4 per cent to 24.1 percentage. However, by year five privately sponsored refugees see rates of social assistance fall below the first year’s rate.

By contrast, the high rates of social assistance seen in government assistance refugees falls dramatically after the first year, from ninety-two (92) per cent to sixty-seven (67) per cent in year two.

This could be ascribable to the Refugee Assistance Program, a social assistance program which provides financial Support for new refugees to cover first-year expenses in Canada.

This group considerably saw the highest rates of social assistance compared to the other four categories of refugees. By year thirteen (13), about twenty-seven per cent of government assisted refugees claimed social assistance.

Of those who received social assistance, the average income per family member falls between 4,000 and 6,000 after thirteen (13) years.