B.C. immigrants earn less, see their work credentials devalued: Vancity report

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.”

“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.