African Immigrants Experience Hardest Landing

African immigrants experience hardest landing
Jobless rate four times higher than in Filipino or Canadian-born populations

Charles Lewis
National Post
Canwest News Service
Published: Thursday, February 14

TORONTO – Immigrants from Africa are having the hardest time of any major immigrant group integrating into the Canadian workforce.

“Immigrants born in Africa experienced difficulties in the labour market, regardless of when they had landed,” Wednesday's Statistics Canada report on immigrant labour said.

“In 2006, the estimated 70,000 very recent African-born immigrants had an unemployment rate of 20.8 per cent, more than four times higher than that of the Canadian-born.”

It also showed that very recent immigrants from the Philippines fared the best, having unemployment rates almost identical to the Canadian rate.

The study placed immigrants, ages 25 to 54, into three groups: very recent, those landing here between 2001 and 2006; recent, those landing between 1996 to 2001; and established, those who have been here more than 10 years.

Very recent immigrants from Asia had 11.1-per-cent unemployment, from Latin America 10.5 per cent and from Europe 8.4 per cent.

Once Africans have been here more than 10 years, the percentage of unemployment drops to 7.6 per cent, still 55 per cent more than the Canadian-born population.

One factor that hurt the overall African employment numbers is that a little more than 20 per cent of very recent immigrants are refugees.

Ahmed Hussein, president of the Canadian Somali Association, said he is disappointed in the labour numbers, but he is not surprised. He said most Somalis, many of whom have fled civil war and do not speak English, experience a “hard landing” when they come to Canada.

“There isn't that chain migration that happens with more established community like Ukrainians or Jews,” he said. “There's less support … .”

They also have nothing to go back to, says Charles Beach, a professor at Queen's University who has taught courses on applied labour market analysis and immigration policy.

“That group more than any other are the sink-or-swim group,” he said. “They know Canada is much better than where they come from.”