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REPORT: B.C. immigrants earn less, see their work credentials devalued, surveys and census data demonstrate

June 26, 2019, Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. — New Canadians in B.C. earn eight per cent less than workers who are at least third generation Canadian, while immigrants in Vancouver earn 18 per cent less, a new Vancity report has found.

Recognizing the Problem: Workplace credentials and the newcomer experience in B.C also shows that B.C. immigrants with the same workplace credentials and language abilities as third-plus generation Canadians earn nine per cent less on average, according to an analysis of census data conducted for Vancity by an independent economist.

Meanwhile, newcomers with manual labour jobs are five times more likely than third-plus generation Canadians to have university degrees.

The report includes results from two unique surveys conducted by Vancity and Angus Reid Global. Their survey of new Canadians in B.C. found that only 49% of those seeking employment in their chosen fields found work at levels that matched their workplace credentials, while the rest took work in junior positions or in different fields.

Most of those surveyed say their credentials—work experience, professional qualifications and education—from their countries of origin are less respected than the Canadian equivalents, leading to economic difficulties and employment exclusion.

A second Vancity and Angus Reid Global survey of B.C. residents found that almost two-thirds say it is urgent that employers treat professional foreign credentials the same as Canadian credentials, and almost 60 per cent say it is urgent that employers treat foreign credentials for trades and semi-skilled roles the same as Canadian credentials.

“When newcomers don’t find work in their professions or trades, the effects are broadly felt. They include intergenerational poverty,” says Catherine Ludgate, Vancity’s senior manager of community investment. “This report demonstrates the importance of assigning fair value to international workplace credentials.”

For more than a decade, Vancity has offered microcredit loans to newcomers to help them get into productive economic activity in their new neighbourhoods. The Back to Work loan has been helping “foreign trained professionals” recertify in their chosen profession, and the With These Hands loan provides the funds to get into a trade.

Vancity is also a financial partner in the new Foreign Credential Recognition Loan Program, supported in part by the federal government. The program provides newcomers with loans to upgrade credentials, write challenge exams and improve professional language skills. Vancity anticipates providing approximately 500 loans a year through this new program.

“New Canadians tell us that all the experience and education they’ve accumulated gives them only a 50/50 shot at being employed at an appropriate level in B.C.,” says Demetre Eliopoulos, senior vice-president and managing director of Angus Reid Public Affairs. “Those are low odds for credentials they’ve worked so hard to attain.”

While the report recognizes efforts made across Canada to remove credentials recognition obstacles, it calls on all levels of government to commit to reducing recognition steps and wait times.

Survey Methodology

In partnership with Vancity, Angus Reid Global conducted two online surveys in parallel to better understand the climate surrounding B.C. immigrants and their experiences finding employment in Canada. The first survey was conducted January 14-19, 2019 among a randomized sample of 400 immigrants to B.C. who arrived after 15 years of age. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The second survey was conducted January 24-28, 2019 among a representative sample of 800 adult residents who reside in B.C. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The respondents are members of Angus Reid Forum.

Additional information

Backgrounder: Vancity’s support for new Canadians
Report: Recognizing the Problem: Workplace credentials and the newcomer experience in B.C

About Angus Reid Global

Angus Reid is Canada’s most well-known and respected name in public affairs and market research data. Offering a variety of research solutions to businesses, brands, governments, not-for-profit organizations and more, the Angus Reid Global team connects technologies and people to derive powerful insights and inform your decisions. Data is collected through a suite of tools utilizing the latest technologies. Prime among that is the Angus Reid Forum, an opinion community consisting of engaged residents across the country who answer surveys on topical issues that matter to all Canadians.

About Vancity

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 534,000 member-owners and their communities in the unceded territories of the Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw people, with 59 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, Squamish and Alert Bay. With $27.4 billion in assets plus assets under administration, Vancity is Canada’s largest community credit union. Vancity uses its assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

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Media Relations | Vancity
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