TORONTO, May 17, 2005 - There is significant evidence that racial discrimination continues to deny access to meaningful employment and the earnings of members of racialized groups and new immigrants in Canada, says a new report released jointly by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) and the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ). Working Precariously: The impact of race and immigration status on employment opportunities and outcomes in Canada was prepared by Dr. Cheryl Teelucksingh and Dr. Grace-Edward Galabuzi, both assistant professors at Ryerson University and research associates with the Centre for Social Justice. The report was funded by the CRRF.
The evidence, drawn from a review of 1996 and 2001 Census data as well as other labour market statistics, shows that there is a significant gap, ranging in double-digits, between the after-tax incomes of those who have suffered from racial discrimination and those who have not. In 1996, the median after-tax income for racialized persons was 23.2% lower than non-racialized persons. Although this gap fell to 13.3% in 2000, due mainly to increased immigration and the proportion of racialized workers, the size of the gap does reflect a persistent under-valuing of the work of racialized persons in the Canadian economy. This and similar findings about the increasing segmentation of workers along racial lines point to systemic racial discrimination. The situation is worse for racialized youth - particularly male youth - who, over the same period faced a median after tax gap of 38.7%.
The report also details evidence of different patterns of labour market participation rates for racialized and non-racialized workers. In 2001, the participation rate for the total population was 80.3% while that for racialized groups was 66%. For new immigrants it was 75%. The unemployment rate for racialized groups during the period was 12.6% compared to 6.7% for the total population.
"If you ask yourself the question: Why it is hard not to come up with the conclusion that racism is a significant factor, notes Dr. Teelucksingh. "For one thing, there is no question that the level of education among new immigrants is quite high. That's the demand of the immigration requirements. This situation becomes even more critical as the projected net new immigrants will come from the racialized groups by 2011."
The results are further reinforced by the segmented nature of the workforce along racial lines. Racialized group members are over-represented in many low-paying occupations, contributing to the precariousness of their employment, while they are very prominently under-represented in high or better paying jobs. For example, racialized groups were over-represented (46%) in such jobs as the textile industry, light manufacturing and service sector.
The continual denial of recognition of the credentials of internationally educated professionals (IEPs) continues to be one of the most significant systemic barriers to the upward mobility of racialized immigrants, the report maintains. Among recent immigrants (arriving in the last five years), the level of higher education is as high as 62%, compared to 23% in the general population. The racialized group members are among the highest categories of those with higher levels of education as well as professional qualifications. According to Statistics Canada in 2001, male immigrants with a university degree earned 55.8% less than their Canadian-born counterparts while women earned 56.6% less than their female counterparts.
"These data point squarely to the failures in the system of assessing and recognizing international qualifications by the professional licensing bodies, particularly among immigrants from the global south," observes Galabuzi. "What we've found is that there is a lack of adequate information about the licensing process, few reliable tools for assessing external credentials and limited transparency in the licensing process, among other things."
This is compounded, Galabuzi adds, by the high costs which face the new immigrant to obtain the appropriate credentials in many professions, while poverty rates among them are rising. Beyond a few innovative ideas such as small, non-government organization loans to help individuals pursue accreditation, the government and non-government initiatives aimed at addressing the problem have largely been limited to under-funded pilot projects.
"Our research also points to the fact that educational institutions such a medical schools act as 'gatekeepers' in selecting international medical graduates for residency positions," Galabuzi explains. "Even when these graduates eventually meet the requirements, they are denied access to residencies without an explanation."
"This study clearly points out the differential treatment of highly-educated and trained immigrants and the huge waste of talent and resources that are the result of systemic racial discrimination," says Dr. Karen Mock, executive director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation that funded and published the study. "The systemic racial barriers that have been identified in this report must not only be addressed but eliminated. An in-depth employment systems review of the regulatory bodies and the relevant government agencies is what is needed in order to identify and remove the obvious barriers to equality of opportunity and outcome."
David Langille, Director of the Centre for Social Justice adds, "The report identifies why there is a growing wave of frustration and anger amongst those who have come to Canada in recent years. Many feel that they have been misled about the opportunities available here, and that life in Canada is harder than in their homeland. All Canadians should be concerned about the waste of talent - racism is costing us all."
The complete report, Working Precariously, is published in the latest issue of DIRECTIONS, the journal of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and may be obtained by subscription through .