The Integration of Immigrants of Differing Official Language Ability and Use in Canada: Analysis of the 2006 Census and the 2007–2008 Canadian Community Health Survey

Copies of the full report are available upon request to Research-Recherche@cic.gc.ca.

Executive summary

This report presents a detailed analysis of the economic and social integration of immigrants of differing official language ability and use in Canada, with a particular focus on official language minority immigrants, both established and recent. It also presents a demographic portrait of these immigrants in different regions of the country. In addition, the report presents the results of analyses used to develop a welcome-ability index for a variety of communities across the country. The welcome-ability index is a new measure of the capacity of communities to welcome and integrate newcomers (Ravanera, Esses, & Rajulton, 2013).

For these purposes, we conducted analyses of the 2006 Census and the 2007-2008 Canadian Community Health Survey. For the Census, official language groups were identified using First Official Language Spoken (FOLS), which is based on knowledge of official languages, mother tongue, and language spoken most often at home. For the Canadian Community Health Survey, official language groups were identified using Derived Official Language Spoken (DOLS), which we derived for this purpose using language spoken at home and languages in which can converse.

Descriptive Portrait of Official Language Minority Immigrants in Quebec and the Rest of Canada

We provide here a portrait of the demographic, economic, and social characteristics of official language minority immigrants in Quebec and the rest of Canada in 2006-2008. To do so, we focus on English FOLS/DOLS immigrants and French FOLS/DOLS immigrants. The full report provides details for additional language groups and further breaks down economic integration for the rest of Canada by region.

Quebec

In Quebec, there are notable differences in the demographic characteristics of English FOLS versus French FOLS immigrants, and in their economic and social outcomes. In terms of demographics, it is notable that the source regions for English FOLS and French FOLS immigrants have diverged over time. Many English FOLS and French FOLS established immigrants were born in Western Europe. In contrast, English FOLS recent immigrants are most likely to have been born in East or South and Central Asia, whereas French FOLS recent immigrants are most likely to have been born in Africa.

In terms of economic outcomes, English FOLS and French FOLS immigrants do not differ markedly in their employment levels. However, for those who are employed, English FOLS immigrants are more likely than French FOLS immigrants to be working as managers and professionals, and to have higher income. These findings tend to hold across established and recent immigrants.

In terms of social outcomes, French DOLS immigrants tend to report poorer physical and mental health than English DOLS immigrants, and once again these findings tend to hold across established and recent immigrants. Of note, however, among recent immigrants, French DOLS individuals tend to report higher life satisfaction and a stronger sense of belonging to their local community than English DOLS individuals.

These differences in economic and social outcomes may be partially attributable to socio-demographic factors, as discussed in more detail in the report.

Rest of Canada

As in Quebec, there are notable differences in the demographic characteristics of English FOLS versus French FOLS immigrants, and in their economic and social outcomes. In terms of demographics, like immigrants in Quebec, the source regions for English FOLS and French FOLS have tended to diverge over time. Many English FOLS and French FOLS established immigrants were born in Western Europe. In contrast, English FOLS recent immigrants are most likely to have been born in East or South and Central Asia, whereas French FOLS recent immigrants are most likely to have been born in Africa.

In terms of economic outcomes, among recent immigrants, English FOLS individuals are more likely to be employed than French FOLS individuals. However, for immigrants who are employed, French FOLS individuals are more likely than English FOLS individuals to be working as managers and professionals, and French FOLS established immigrants tend to have higher income.

In terms of social outcomes, among recent immigrants, English DOLS individuals tend to report poorer physical health but better mental health than French DOLS individuals. Among established immigrants, English DOLS individuals tend to report lower life satisfaction but a stronger sense of belonging to their local community than French DOLS.

These differences in economic and social outcomes may be partially attributable to socio-demographic factors, as discussed in more detail in the report.

Summary

In both Quebec and the rest of Canada, the source regions of English versus French immigrants have tended to diverge over time, with English recent immigrants especially likely to be from Asia and French recent immigrants especially likely to be from Africa.

Overall, it is noteworthy that when comparing English only and French only immigrants, the English tend to have better economic outcomes than the French in Quebec, and the French tend to have better economic outcomes than the English in the rest of Canada. These findings are not always reflected in life satisfaction and sense of belonging to one’s local community, however. Instead, it seems that particularly for recent immigrants, the French tend to have higher life satisfaction and sense of belonging to their local community in Quebec, and particularly for established immigrants, they also have higher life satisfaction than the English in the rest of Canada, but a lower sense of belonging to their local community.

Welcome-ability Index

The welcome-ability index, currently in a nascent stage of development, is designed to measure the ability of Canadian communities to welcome and integrate immigrants. Our analyses here focus on computing social and economic measures of welcome-ability, which are then combined into a welcome-ability index.

Based on this index, the ranking of welcome-ability of a variety of CMAs and Areas outside of CMAs are presented and seem to correspond to previous research on these locations. In addition, when used to predict the labour force activity and household income of recent immigrants in these locations, the effects are significant, suggesting that the capacity of large metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas to welcome immigrants does influence the probability of recent immigrants being employed, and having a higher household income.

Proposed Future Research Directions

This project provides a demonstration of the value of analyses of pre-existing datasets for examining the integration of immigrants of differing official language ability and use in Canada. In addition to its value in its own right, one of the goals of this project was to also provide a baseline and set of procedures that can be applied to additional datafiles, including the 2011 National Household Survey and the 2011-2012 Canadian Community Health Survey, which are now available. By utilizing the microdata files from the Statistics Canada Research Data Centre, we would obtain larger samples and be able to access information on smaller geographic configurations, thus allowing analyses of official language groups at the level of CMAs and potentially CAs. Such analyses would provide a more detailed and up-to-date profile of the demographic characteristics and the economic and social integration of immigrants in official language minority communities across the country.

Use of microdata files from the Research Data Centre would also allow us to overcome some of the limitations that were encountered in deriving and testing the predictive power of the welcome-ability index, potentially allowing us to conduct separate analyses for official language groups, to utilize a wider variety of variables to derive the welcome-ability index, and to include CAs and smaller geographic configurations in our analyses.

The analysis of pre-existing datasets complements the development of new surveys and collection of primary data that focus on specific questions relating to official language minority immigrants and communities. The development and validation of such a survey is currently underway, with the expectation that a full-scale fielding of this survey will follow. Together, the analyses of pre-existing datasets and of a survey designed to specifically focus on critical questions concerning the economic, social, and civic inclusion of official language minority immigrants in Canada will go a long way to providing an evidence base for developing strategies to ensure such inclusion and for promoting the welcome-ability of communities across the country.

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