Female Immigrants

How are Female Immigrants Performing in the Canadian Labour Market?

Canada is known for being a progressive country with a strong commitment to human rights and equality for all. While women in Canada have the same rights and freedoms as men, there are still significant gaps in how women, especially immigrant women, are represented in the country’s workforce.

According to data from Statistics Canada in 2022, there were 4,200,630 immigrant women in the labor market, with 2.9 million being visible minorities and 1.3 million non-visible minorities. Immigrants are responsible for almost 100% of Canada’s labor force growth and 75% of Canada’s population growth.

Although women in Canada have an 83% participation rate in the national workforce, there is a significant unemployment gap between recent immigrant women and Canadian-born women, as reported by the Labor Force Survey from January to June 2021. Immigrant women, particularly racialized women, are overrepresented in low-wage sectors, such as accommodation and food services or hospitality. These industries were heavily impacted by labor market losses during COVID-19, resulting in dramatic wage losses for newcomer women.

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A recent study on the role of immigrant women in executive positions found that immigrant women earned the lowest median employment income, at $241,900, and encountered the greatest gender pay gap, at 29%. Furthermore, among executive immigrant women, it was four times more likely that the woman was born in the United States or the United Kingdom.

Family-Class Sponsorship Programs are Used to Invite Women Immigrants

The majority of immigrant women arrived in Canada through family class sponsorship. In 2022, 1,215,200 women immigrants arrived in Canada as secondary applicants in an economic immigration program, and a further 1,194,685 arrived through family class sponsorship.

There is still a pay gap between the incomes of Canadian women and their male colleagues despite the fact that Canadian women have been active in the workforce for more than 100 years. It has been estimated that women make 89 cents on average for every dollar that men make in Canada, according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Yet, this does not take into account the significant income gap that exists between Canadian-born women and newly arrived-immigrants.

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To address the wage gap and ensure fair compensation for women, the federal government implemented the Pay Equity Act in August 2021. However, this only applies to women employed in federally regulated workplaces. Some provinces have legislation to ensure equal pay for women. For example, pay discrimination on the grounds of gender is prohibited by Human Rights legislation in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.

As a result of lower incomes among racialized immigrant women, the government has recently committed nearly $6 million in additional funding to programs under the Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot Program in response to this issue. As part of the Pilot program, participants have access to settlement services that can assist them in developing soft skills to get a job, such as preparing resumes. The majority of funding, however, is directed toward initiatives that will assist in preventing gender-based violence.

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While Canada is known for its commitment to human rights and equality, there are still significant gaps in how immigrant women are represented in the workforce. The government has taken some steps to address the wage gap and unemployment rates among immigrant women, but more work needs to be done to ensure equal opportunities for all women in Canada.

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