Executive summary

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Employment quality can be defined in many different ways, and go beyond the scope of the individual and extend to the organization or society at large. For this report, which uses a framework under development by an international Task Force headed by Canada, with participation from the United Nations (UN) and International Labour Organization (ILO), employment quality includes an individual's safety at work, their financial and non-financial remuneration, working hours and work-life balance, job stability, social dialogue, skills development and job satisfaction.

Using this international framework, we can identify some indicators available at Statistics Canada to illustrate the employment quality for both the Canadian born and immigrants. In this report, the main sources of employment quality indicators come from Canada's Labour Force Survey, the Workplace Employee Survey and the Canadian Community Health Survey.

This report focuses on a comparison of immigrants to Canadian-born workers. When comparing different groups of individuals, understanding any differences in age structure, sex, education, job tenure, firm size and occupation is important as it may explain some of the differences observed. In 2008, employed immigrants aged 25 to 54, particularly those who landed more recently, were younger, more likely to be male, had higher levels of post-secondary education, were more likely to work for smaller firms and tended to be in different occupational groups than Canadian-born workers.

The traditional indicators for assessing employment quality, particularly when comparing immigrants with the Canadian born, have been wage-related. A number of Canadian studies have shown that immigrant wages generally lag behind those of the Canadian born, although the gaps narrow with longer time since landing. When analyzing data from the 2008 Labour Force Survey, immigrant employees from most periods of landing and occupational groups, had hourly wage rates which were below those of their Canadian-born counterparts, although the gaps were narrower for those immigrants who landed in Canada more than 10 years earlier.

Using the international framework to go beyond just wage indicators, we get a more robust picture of the employment quality of immigrants and the Canadian born. While immigrant and Canadian-born workers had some similar employment quality characteristics (e.g., share of multiple-job holders, working part time, access to certain flexible work arrangements and on-the-job training), there were differences in other employment quality indicators (e.g., immigrants had a lower share of workplace injuries, lower share of union coverage, higher shares of involuntary part-time work, higher shares of temporary jobs, lower shares of employer-sponsored pension plans and life insurance coverage compared with the Canadian born). Many of the gaps between immigrants who landed more than 10 years earlier and Canadian born were narrower than those of immigrants who landed more recently.

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