75 % of newcomers in Greater Toronto Area are in precarious jobs

Ugh. Just ugh.

These numbers come from a new report  by United Way Toronto and McMaster University.  The study examines precarious work in general, which is on the rise, in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. It doesn’t focus specifically on newcomers, but that’s what stood out for me as a new Canadian immigrant.

This is what the report says:

“New immigrants remain more likely to be in precarious employment for the first decade of life in Canada.”

First decade!

And this, it turns out, is the optimistic scenario. The study says only immigrants who have lived in Canada for 20 years or more enjoy secure employment. That’s why immigrants on average are in a more vulnerable work situation than non-immigrants.

The study doesn’t provide possible explanations. But I think it’s more than safe to assume that lack of connections plays a major role. Networking really is key.

This disturbing number also begs the question, are government agencies and NGOs providing the best possible services to newcomers? Are newcomers aware of all these services and do they know how to access them?

And, of course, are Canadian employers open-minded enough to give a chance to immigrant applicants?

It’s been well documented that transferring credentials remains a big problem in this country. And in my experience, even for people in unregulated professions like myself the situation is difficult because Canadian employers for the most part do not seem to be open enough to  applicants with a more different profile. Canadian experience seems to be an obsession for most employers here.

While I do understand that, there should be some wriggle room – especially since people who have more unusual backgrounds are also the ones that contribute diversity, which helps breed innovation.

Clearly, many things have to change – and business in particular have to change their attitude – because one sinister consequence of such a long transition to stable employment is that it hampers integration. It also hurts the entire Canadian economy.

And obviously, I can’t help but think about my personal situation. Part of me finds all of this data very depressing. But I’m an optimist, so another part of me wants to ignore it completely and think that for me it will be different.

I mean, I managed to get a job offer in New York City after just a month of job hunting – at the height of the recession, in 2009. (That was the time when hundreds of people with college degrees and more would apply for a single restaurant opening.)

So I did score an offer, but as soon as the employer found out that I would require visa sponsorship, the offer was withdrawn. Welcome to the land of equal opportunity! Too bad I didn’t know at the time that I had the option to file a complaint with the city’s Commission On Human Rights. Let that employer pay a hefty fine, so he can learn his lesson.

But anyway, back to Canada, where I’m luckily a permanent resident. I’m more than certain that things will work out great in Toronto. I guess experiencing brutal competition and wrenching uncertainty in Gotham City is paying off. I’m totally ready for that.

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