ARCHIVED – Immigrant income and the family

II. Data & definitions

The data used in this analysis is taken from the Longitudinal Administrative Databank (LAD) [note 1]. The LAD is a longitudinal file which comprises a 20 percent sample of the annual T1 Family File [note 2] and the Longitudinal Immigration Data Base (IMDB) [note 3]. The longitudinal file contains annual demographic variables about the individuals represented and annual income information for both the individual and their family in that year. The period of analysis for this paper is 1982 to 2003. For immigrants who landed in 1980 or later, the file also contains certain key characteristics observed at landing. The two main advantages of using the LAD for this analysis are that it provides a non-immigrant population [note 4] for comparison and that it offers information about the individual’s family.

Each income type described below can be measured directly for the individual captured in LAD and indirectly for that individual’s family. The addition of the family information expands the income analysis in a very meaningful way. First, the number of contributors in a family can be calculated for each income type. Second, in addition to calculating the average annual income amounts for the individual, the proportion of contribution to family income types can be measured as well. There are two general types of income investigated in this analysis. The first is referred to as market income, which represents income available to the working age population. Market income includes income from employment earnings, self-employment earnings, employment insurance, and provincial supplements which include social assistance. [note 5] The second income type is referred to as retirement income, which represents income available exclusively to the elderly. Retirement income includes income from C/QPP [note 6], OAS [note 7], the GIS [note 8]/Allowance [note 9], RRSPs, and private pension plans. [note 10] For the purposes of this analysis, the sum of market income and retirement income equals total income.


1  For more information on the LAD visit

2  The T1 Family File is a yearly cross-sectional file of all taxfilers and their families.

3  The Longitudinal Immigrant Data Base combines administrative records on immigration with taxation information to form a comprehensive source of data on the labour market experiences of the landed immigrant population. It is managed by Statistics Canada on behalf of a Federal-Provincial Consortium led by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

4  The non-immigrant population in the LAD, and therefore in this paper, refers to those who are born in Canada and those who landed in Canada previous to 1980.

5  Income from social assistance is report on the Provincial Supplement line of the tax form. The total of this line may include other provincial supplements and, as a result, social assistance income cannot be separated out. An example of such a supplement is income from the Guaranteed Annual Income System available to residents of Ontario.

6  C/QPP is a contributory pension that is related to an individual’s lifetime earnings. Although there are no special provisions for immigrants, their benefits will be directly related to the length of time they have worked in Canada. To qualify an individual must have made a minimum of one valid contribution to the Plan and be at least 65 years of age. It is possible to qualify for a reduced pension between the ages of 60-64 if a person stops working or earns less than the current monthly maximum C/QPP payment.

7  OAS is a non-contributory pension that is related to an individual’s years of residence in Canada. It is available to Canadian Citizens, permanent residents (landed immigrants), and individuals with a Minister’s permit who are 65 years of age or older and have a minimum of 10 years of residence in Canada after reaching age 18. A full OAS pension is only available to those who have lived in Canada for 40 years or longer after reaching the age 18. A person who cannot meet the requirements for the full OAS pension may qualify for a partial pension. A partial pension is earned at the rate of 1/40th of the full monthly pension for each year an individual has lived in Canada after reaching 18. Although citizenship and/or legal residency status is a requirement for OAS eligibility, in some instances time spent in Canada on a temporary basis prior to landing can factor into an applicant’s residence history. As a result, an immigrant with less than ten years since landing can potentially be eligible for partial OAS benefits. For further details see Human Resource and Development Canada’s information sheet, “How to Apply for the Old Age Security Pension, Allowance and Allowance for the Survivor” available at

8  GIS is another non-contributory pension and is available to residents of Canada who receive a full or partial OAS pension. GIS benefits may begin in the same month as OAS benefits. To qualify for GIS a person must be in receipt of an OAS pension and have an annual income not exceeding a specified amount. Sponsored immigrants from countries with which Canada has agreements are not eligible for GIS during their sponsorship period (up to a maximum of 10 years) unless they have resided in Canada for an aggregate of ten years after reaching 18 years of age. OAS and GIS are activated upon approval of an individual’s application, with GIS requiring individuals to reapply on an annual basis. See Appendix, Table A1: Schedule of Countries with which Canada has Agreements (Section 22.0, Old Age and Security Regulations).

9  The Allowance is a non-contributory pension available to the spouse, common-law partner, or survivor of a pensioner receiving OAS and/or GIS. Canadian citizens or permanent residents between  60 and 64 who have lived in Canada for at least 10 years are eligible to receive the Allowance. To qualify, the combined annual income of the couple, or the annual income of the survivor must not exceed the specified limits. Allowance stops when the recipient reaches age 65 and becomes eligible for OAS. Sponsored immigrants wishing to apply for the Allowance face the same eligibility requirements as those applying for GIS. Benefits from GIS and Allowance are report together as Net Federal Supplements on a single line of an individual’s tax form and are grouped together in this analysis.

10  In addition to these retirement sources, the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) is available to residents of Ontario 65 years of age or older. More information on GAINS can be found on the Ontario Ministry of Finance’s website Similar programs may also exist in other provinces.

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