ARCHIVED – Portrait of an Integration Process
The first 4 years in a host country is a key period that immigrants are completing initial short-term settlement, and starting intermediate-term adaptation and long-term integration processes. It is a two-way process that encourages adjustments on both newcomers and the receiving society. The interaction between these two determines the outcomes of the settlement, adaptation and integration processes.
For new immigrants, getting settled and integrated into Canadian society entails not only challenges, but also hope and success. During the initial four years the LSIC immigrants made economic and social assimilation. As time unfolded, more immigrants secured employment, owned homes, and were involved in a variety of social activities. The proportion of newcomers who encountered difficulties in the main integration tasks examined declined with the time.
Compared to the first 6 months in Canada, the most serious problems faced by newcomers had shifted from the obstacles specific to immigrants to more general problems at 4 years after landing. As time went by, language barriers were cited less while financial constraints were more prevalent in all integration activities examined.
Social networks continued to play a role helping newcomers overcome difficulties. As immigrants made new friends, friendship became the dominating source of assistance in helping newcomers. While relatives or family members helped newcomers out in the initial months, reliance on government agencies increased as time went on.
Although many newcomers received help with difficulties encountered during the settlement process, a persistent proportion of immigrants reported having unmet needs. After 4 years in Canada, financial help, information and advice or counselling services were the most cited needs. As immigrants are by definition newcomers in the host country, they are more susceptible to the information problems that generate needs for assistance in the first place. It is not a surprise to see that information and related advice were most needed in immigrants’ early integration process. The increases in financial resources need over time echoed with financial constraints as one of main obstacles, pointing out the emerging economic challenge in these newcomers’ integration life. The consistently reported gaps between these needs and offers implied policy gaps in providing some essential aid for newcomers.
Further in-depth analysis based on all LSIC waves will help to explain the complexity of the integration process of immigrants to Canada, especially among recent immigrants who landed after 2000.
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