ARCHIVED – Socioeconomic Profiles of Immigrants in the Four Atlantic Provinces — Phase II: Focus on Vibrant Communities

Executive Summary

The purpose of this study is to analyze socioeconomic and demographic profiles of immigrants resident in vibrant communities of Atlantic Canada, i.e., communities having several economic and non-economic factors that are attractive for an immigrant to locate there. Economic factors include the presence of a dominant industry, a labour market, wages, and possibility of employment. Non-economic factors could include the presence of an immigrant community, especially from a similar ethnic background, which would play the role of an information network, thereby easing the settlement of new arrivals. Three cities (Census Metropolitan Areas), Halifax, Saint John’s and Charlottetown, two counties (Census Divisions), Colchester and Carleton, and one village (Census Sub Division), Florenceville, are identified as vibrant communities for the purpose of this study.

This research project, conducted for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), is one of the research activities scheduled under the Atlantic Population Table Research Work plan for the year 2007-2008.  It builds on the project sponsored by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the Rural Secretariat, the four provincial governments of Atlantic Canada, and Saint Mary’s University (Akbari,  et al.), which analyzed demographic and socioeconomic profiles of immigrants at provincial levels in the region. Analysis is based on 1) immigrant inflow data obtained from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for the period 1991–2006, 2) resident immigrant data based on 2001 and 2006 censuses purchased from Statistics Canada, and 3) resident population data based on the 2001 and 2006 censuses as available on Statistics Canada’s web site. Some analysis is also based on discussions held with federal and provincial government officials, community organizations and immigrant settlement agencies.

Immigrants in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Most immigrants destined to Atlantic Canada arrive in Halifax, and during 2001-2006, most came from China. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom are among the other top five source countries of immigrants. Most immigrants are young at arrival (age group 25-44) and belong to economic class. However, the percentage arriving in family class increased during 2001-2006, during which time more than half of new immigrants arrived with a university degree in hand, while during 1996-2001, about 40 percent had arrived with a university degree. The corresponding percentages for the total population remained under 25 percent during both periods.

The labour force participation rate has increased among recent arrivals, and for those arriving during 2001-2006, was closer to that of the total population. Most immigrants intending to join the labour force come as highly skilled workers (professionals and managers), which is likely a result of deliberate attempts by the provincial government and the city of Halifax to attract such immigrants to meet skill shortages. More total residents, as well as immigrants, are likely to join sales and service occupations, but more immigrants are likely to be in the combined occupational category of applied and natural sciences, education, government and religion. Service industries are major employers of all population groups, and within service industries, immigrants are more represented in education, health care and social services. Overall, immigrants in Halifax earn about 42 percent more income through employment than does the total population. Recent immigrants earn less due to their lack of Canadian experience, but earnings of those who arrived during 2001-2006 matched relatively closely those of the  resident population and more so than did the earnings of those who came during the previous five-year period.

Immigrants in Saint John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

As was noted in the case of Halifax, most immigrants arriving in Saint John’s during 2001-2006 also came from China. Columbia, Sudan, the US and the UK are also included among the top five source countries. In fact, China has been the top source country of immigrants to Saint John’s during the 1991-1995 period and most of these new immigrants were aged 25-44 years at the time of arrival. During 2001-2006 period, a lower percentage of new arrivals fell in the 25-44 years age group, while the percentage of those aged 45-64 years doubled. This could mean that more experienced professionals have been arriving in this city than did before. Saint John’s also receives a large percentage of refugees each year, about 35% during 2001-2006. However, since the mid-1990s, immigration in economic class has increased to match the numbers in refugee class during 2001-2006. Despite receiving a larger percentage of refugees who are selected based on humanitarian grounds, the average educational attainment of immigrants in Saint John’s is higher than that of the total population, probably indicating higher educational attainment of refugees.

Immigrants in Saint John’s have lower labour force participation rates than its total population, but in 2006, their rates came closer to those of the total population. Also, unemployment is lower than in the total population among all immigrants but higher among recent immigrants. Most immigrants destined to labour force arrive as highly skilled workers. However, their numbers have declined since the early 1990s, while at the same time the educational attainment of new arrivals is higher. This may be explained by a larger inflow of refugees who may have university degrees in disciplines other than management sciences or natural sciences. Most immigrants are in sales and service occupations, as is also true of the total population, and are also employed in service industries. Immigrants who arrived in the past are generally found in health care and social services and in educational services occupations. This is also true for recent immigrants, but their likelihood of being employed in these industries is lower. Finally, data on employment income indicate that immigrants, both established and recent, earn a higher average income than the total population. More insight into this finding can be obtained by investigating the income distribution for each group.

Immigrants in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Most recent immigrants who arrived in Charlottetown during 2001-2006 also came from China and were in the 25-44 age group. (Other countries among the recent top five source countries list include Korea, Taiwan, Afghanistan and the UK.)  However, their percentage in this prime working age group declined during 2001-2006 while increasing for those arriving in the 45-64 age group. Economic class dominates, followed by refugee class. For those arriving during 2001-2006, educational attainment was generally higher than among the total population because greater percentages arrived with a university degree and those with high school or lower education emulated the percentages among the total population. Labour force participation rates among recent immigrants increased between the two censuses to match the rate among the total population at the time of the 2006 census. Overall, the immigrant population experienced a decline in its labour force participation rate. Interestingly, the unemployment rate among recent immigrants fell below that of the total population in 2006. For all immigrants, it has been low since 2001. A rising trend in the inflow of highly skilled immigrants has been observed since 2002. About 17 percent of highly skilled immigrants are employed in management occupations and 14 percent as scientists. Service-related occupations are the most common among immigrants as are also among the total residents of Charlottetown. Industrial groups represented by agriculture and resource-based industries and by health care and social services were major employers of recent immigrants, while among overall immigrants, educational service industries are major employers. Employment among the total population is more widespread across industries, with some concentration in the retail trade. Average income among overall immigrants is higher than for the total population. In 2006, recent immigrants earned about the same on average as did the total population.

Immigrants in Colchester, Nova Scotia

About 75 percent of immigrants in Colchester who arrived during 2001-2006 were evenly divided among three source locations, namely, the United States, Europe, and China. Although South Asians formed the largest visible minority group, no recent immigrants are reported in the 2006 census to have arrived from there. The Chinese are the second largest visible minority group. In both censuses, a larger percentage of recent immigrants was in the 25-44 age group than was the total population. Also, in both censuses, educational attainment among recent immigrants was higher than among the total population. Between the two censuses, the labour force participation rate fell for overall immigrants but rose for recent immigrants (to match that of the total population in 2006), while that for the total population was unchanged. The unemployment rate among overall immigrants was lower than that among total residents. (Unemployment rate data for recent immigrants are not available.) As in other places, most residents in all groups are involved in service occupations; however, a larger percentage of immigrants work in management occupations and as scientists compared to the total population. Health care and social services are major employers among the overall immigrant population, while for those arriving during 2001-2006, major employers were the following two industrial groups who hired them in equal numbers: 1) agriculture and other resource-based industries and 2) wholesale trade and retail trade.  On the other hand, manufacturing and retail trade industries are more common employers of total residents in Colchester. The average employment income of recent immigrants resident in Colchester was higher than that of the total residents at the time of the 2006 census, and for immigrants overall was the highest.

Immigrants in Carleton, New Brunswick

Carleton lost 2 percent of its population during 2001-2006, but its immigrant population rose by 19 percent during this period. More than 60 percent of new immigrants were aged 25-44 when the 2001 and 2006 censuses were conducted, while the total population was aging. Immigrants came from the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. As in other places, educational attainment among recent immigrants rose between the two censuses and exceeded that of the resident population (of those who arrived during 2001-2006, 36 percent held a university degree.) The labour force participation rate had declined for recent immigrants by the time of the  2006 census, but their unemployment rate (4.4 percent) was significantly lower than that of those who had arrived during the previous five-year period (8.9 percent) and was also lower than that for the total population (8.6 percent). Greater percentages of immigrants are found in business, finance and administrative occupations and in trades, transport and equipment operators occupations. Sales and service occupations are the most common among the total population of Carleton. While this is also true of recent immigrants, many of them also work in occupations relating to social sciences, education, government service and religion (11.5 percent), where lower percentages of total residents also work (7.9 percent). Manufacturing industries employ the highest percentage of immigrants, followed by health care and social services. McCain Foods Ltd. is the major employer in the area, and it also owns some of the county’s transportation and manufacturing industries. The average employment earnings of the immigrant population are higher than those of the total population, but recent immigrants earn less.

Immigrants in Florenceville, New Brunswick

Florenceville is a small village (population 860) in Carleton County. At the time of the 2006 census, 55 immigrants were living in Florenceville, 35 of whom arrived during 2001-2006.  Among them, 25 were from India. The remaining immigrants were from the United States (10), the Caribbean and Bermuda (10), and Europe (10). About 52 percent of the village’s total population and 73 percent of its immigrant population is aged 25-44.  Labour force participation rates among immigrants and the total population are 72.7 percent and 70.7 percent, respectively. The unemployment rate is almost zero among immigrants aged 25 and over, which may be explained by some of the arrivals in this age category having prearranged employment offers as incentive to move to the village. The unemployment rate in the total population is 5.3 percent, much below the provincial average of 10 percent. Immigrants work as managers, scientists and agricultural workers, and their employment is evenly distributed between primary industries (agriculture, fishing, forestry and hunting) and manufacturing. McCain Foods, which has its world headquarters in this village, is the main employer.

Concluding remarks

Two major conclusions of this study are as follows: 1) immigration to smaller locations in Atlantic Canada appears to be primarily job-oriented; 2) economic integration of immigrants who arrived in Halifax, Charlottetown and Colchester during 2001-2006 appears to be happening faster than of those who came during the previous five years.

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