More Lower-Level And Professional Jobs Taken By Canada Immigrants

More Lower-Level And Professional Jobs Taken By Canada Immigrants
Canada immigration free assessment

A Statistics Canada study shows immigrants in Canada are increasingly taking a bigger share of both lower-level and professional jobs than ever before.

In Immigration and the shifting occupational distribution in Canada, 2001 to 2021, the statistical and demographic services agency’s Garnett Picot and Feng Hou revealed that immigrants increasingly filled lower-level positions throughout the country during that 20-year period.

“The results of this study indicate that the role of immigrant workers in low-skilled occupations has increased,” the researchers report.

“Together with temporary foreign workers, they filled some of the low-skilled jobs that previously would have been occupied by Canadian-born workers.”

Canadian workers moved away from lower-skilled jobs during those two decades, leaving them ripe for immigrants seeking jobs and hoping to gain their permanent residency through economic immigration programs.

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“From 2001 to 2021, employment in lower-skilled occupations contracted by 500,000. As Canadian-born workers moved out of this skill level in a substantial way, reducing their employment by 860,000, together, immigrant workers and temporary foreign workers increased their employment in these lower-skilled jobs by 360,000,” report Picot and Hou.

“Hence, to some extent, immigrant workers and temporary foreign workers backfilled Canadian-born workers as they moved away from lower-skilled jobs. This pattern was similar for labourers, the lowest skill-level group. The number of Canadian-born labourers declined, while the employment contribution by immigrant labourers and temporary foreign workers increased.”

While that trend might suggest employers are primarily using immigrants as a source of cheap labour, that’s not the whole picture. Immigrants to Canada are also increasingly taking up high-paying, professional positions.

“Occupations at the professional skill level showed the fastest employment growth in Canada, with occupations at the managerial and technical skill levels close behind (during those 20 years),” report the researchers.

“Immigrant workers were more likely than Canadian-born workers to move into professional jobs. However, their tendency to be in managerial or technical jobs was little changed, unlike the tendency for workers born in Canada.”

From 2001 through to 2021, the number of immigrant workers in professional occupations rose by almost 92.4 per cent, from 543,800 to 1,046,200, while the number of Canadian workers in those types of occupations grew by a more modest 30.3 per cent, from 1,885,000 to 2,456,500.

“Over the 20-year period, total employment increased by 18 per cent,” noted the researchers.

Canada Saw More Growth In Professional Occupations Than Any Other Type

“Professional occupations expanded the fastest, with a 48 per cent surge. Managerial jobs saw the second-highest growth rate at 36 per cent, followed by employment in technical occupations, up 31 per cent. In contrast, employment in lower-skilled jobs fell by 11 per cent.”

Canada operates a two-tier immigration system, accepting applications for permanent residence through its federal Express Entry system’s Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), as well as the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) of its 10 Canadian provinces.

A little more than a third of all immigrants who gained their permanent residency in Canada in 2022, came to the country through the provincial programs, reports Statistics Canada in its The Provincial Nominee Program: Provincial Differences report.

“In recent years, more economic immigrants entered Canada via the PNP than through any other program; 35 per cent did so in 2019 and 2022,” report Statistics Canada’s Picot, Hou and Eden Crossman.

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“Across all provinces, there are currently over 60 individual PNP streams through which immigrants can enter Canada.”

Since its inception, the PNP’s importance has grown considerably but at a different rate as each province managed its own immigration programs.

“Manitoba had the largest and fastest-growing program during the first decade after the PNP was put in place,” note the researchers.

“Ontario had a small program until around 2016, after which it grew rapidly. By 2019, the five provinces from Ontario westward to British Columbia had roughly an equal number of nominees each (around 12,000 immigrants). Nova Scotia had the largest program in the Atlantic provinces; Newfoundland and Labrador had a very small program over the past two decades.”

PNPs Seeing More Immigrants With Canadian Work Experience

By 2019, 90 per cent of new economic immigrants were provincial nominees in Manitoba and Saskatchewan but only 15 per cent of them were provincially-nominated economic immigrants in Ontario.

In the decade that ended in 2019, the share of new provincial nominees with Canadian work experience has grown significantly in almost all provinces.

“This trend tended to improve the economic outcomes of new provincial nominees. However, by 2019, there was large variation among provinces in the tendency to select provincial nominees from the temporary foreign worker pool,” reports Statistics Canada.

“This tendency was high in Alberta, British Columbia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, while it was much lower in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. The latter three provinces selected more provincial nominees from the candidate pool outside Canada than from among temporary foreign workers.”

A growing number of provincial nominees have been former international students who tend to do better when it comes to finding good jobs.

“This share increased considerably in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, and much less so in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick,” notes Statistics Canada.

“In general, the PNP selected more skilled and technical economic immigrants (NOC skill level B) and fewer professionals (NOC skill level 0 or A) than the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP),” note researchers.

“Skilled and technical provincial nominees dominated in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Alberta (in 2019), while British Columbia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island had higher shares of professional and managerial provincial nominees, though still well below a majority. Manitoba was the one province where lower-skilled provincial nominees (NOC skill level C or D) outnumbered either professionals or skilled and technical nominees.”

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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.