Well-Paying Jobs Elude Minorities Born In Canada (The Globe and Mail)

February 22, 2006: Well-Paying Jobs Elude Minorities Born In Canada (The Globe and Mail)

Well-paying jobs elude minorities born in Canada
Racial bias is the reason, says CLC study, which offers French riots as a warning

By Michael Valpy
The Globe and Mail (Canada), February 22, 2006

Toronto — Canadian-born visible minorities face the highest barriers to steady, well-paying jobs of any group in the country, a circumstance expected to worsen as huge numbers of non-white young people enter the labour market, says a Canadian Labour Congress study to be released today.

The CLC bluntly describes the situation as racial discrimination and suggests parallels to the underlying causes of riots last autumn by jobless and alienated visible-minority young people in the suburbs of Paris and other French cities.

'As Canadians, individually and collectively, we must comes to grips with the harsh realization that every day we are straying further and further away from our goals of equality,' said Hassan Yussuff, the congress's secretary-treasurer.

The study, by Leslie Cheung of Simon Fraser University, says the workplace inequality cannot be explained by education disparities because native-born non-whites are better educated as a whole than native-born whites and immigrants.

'We're educated in Canada. We have the same education [as Canadian-born whites]. Language skills are not an issue. It can't be called a 'catch-up' event. We've already caught up,' Ms. Cheung said in an interview. 'There's no other explanation than discrimination.'

Ms. Cheung's paper, Racial Status and Employment Outcomes — to be posted today on CLC's website — says the average annual earnings for native-born visible minorities ($21,983 in 2000) lags more than $3,000 behind earnings for immigrant visible minorities and $8,000 behind earnings for Canadian-born whites.

Even worse, the earnings gap between native-born visible minorities and other groups actually widened over the preceding five years, Ms. Cheung said.

Visible minorities do not include aboriginal people; they are included in the data for whites. They generally have high rates of unemployment and low incomes, but because they are a comparatively small group, their impact on data for whites is small.

Ms. Cheung's study also says the native-born visible minority group is more likely to include blacks, Japanese and people who have multiple ethnic origins than the immigrant visible minority group is.

In 2000, according to Ms. Leung's research, the unemployment rate for Canadian-born visible minorities was 10.7 per cent, compared with 9.1 per cent for immigrant visible minorities and 7.1 per cent for immigrant and native-born whites.

The unemployment rates for people aged 15 to 24 show comparable gaps — 15.5 per cent for native-born visible minorities, 14.8 per cent for all immigrant young people (75 per cent of all immigrants to Canada today are visible minorities) and 13.3 per cent Canadian-born whites.

But because non-white families tend to have more children than white families have, according to Ms. Cheung's study, the proportion of visible minority members in the 15-to-24 cohort will expand significantly in the next few years.

It is this group that concerns the CLC, and sparked the comparison by one congress official to disaffected young people in France, most of them of North African descent and pushed socially and economically to the margins of French society.

Ms. Cheung finds that Canadian-born visible minority workers, unlike immigrant visible minority workers, are overrepresented in part-time and temporary jobs even though as a group they have the highest proportion of people in the 25-to-44 age group with a bachelor's degree or higher — 37.5 per cent, compared with 31.5 per cent who are immigrant visible minorities and 19.1 per cent of native-born whites.

Shades of unemployment

The Canadian Labour Congress says Canadian-born visible minorities are encountering the highest barriers to finding steady work at decent wages – a worrying situation as large numbers of young people from that population seek to enter the work force.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Canadian Labour Congress report is available on line at: