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- Quality of Employment for Immigrants to Canada
- Safety and Ethics of Employment
- Income and benefits from employment
- Working hours and balancing work and non-working life
- Stability and security of work, and social protection
- Social dialogue and workplace relationships
- Skills development and life-long learning
- Intrinsic nature of work
1 Quality of Employment for Immigrants to Canada
What is quality of employment? To answer this question, this report will rely on a framework of employment quality 1 currently under development by a task force of statistical agencies and international agencies, including the United Nations and the International Labour Organization (see Employment Quality Framework, below, for details). Recognizing that work is something that delivers a large variety of benefits and negativities to individuals and societies, and individual and societal tastes for what they want from work are equally varied, the framework used here is broad in nature, with many dimensions and indicators. This framework is primarily designed to measure quality of employment from the perspective of the individual or worker.
This report will use this framework to present data that sheds light on the similarities and differences in terms of employment quality between immigrant and Canadian-born workers. The report is intended to document of the job quality for both immigrants and the Canadian born in the Canadian labour market. There are no modelling or control measures used in this report to adjust for differences in length of job tenure, occupation or education, which are known to be associated with some of these job quality indicators. While references to articles or sources that could be used to try to understand why any differences in immigrant and Canadian born results may exist are provided, the report itself is not designed to answer these questions. However, an upcoming Statistics Canada report will examine these indicators and their various associative characteristics through more rigorous analytical modelling.
In many instances, data in this report will be presented based on the immigrant's time since landing: up to five years prior to their interview, more than five years to 10 years prior and more than 10 years. Data will be presented for employed persons of core working-age (i.e., those aged 25 to 54) and for older workers (aged 55 and over) separately. Most of the analysis, however, will focus on those of core working age.
Immigration data from the Labour Force Survey
Beginning in January 2006, five additional questions were added to the Labour Force Survey (LFS) to identify immigrants and to determine when they landed in Canada (year and month for those landing within the previous five years), and the country in which they received their highest level of educational attainment greater than high school. The questions are as follows:
In what country was ... born?
Is … now, or has he/she ever been, a landed immigrant in Canada?
In what year did … first become a landed immigrant?
In what month?
In what country did … complete his/her highest degree, certificate or diploma?
Since these questions are in the LFS every month, analysts and researchers have a continuous data series they can use to monitor immigration employment patterns and trends.
Core working age: age 25 to 54 years. These individuals are more likely to have completed school and be available for full-time work and less likely to have entered retirement than those aged 15 to 24 or 55 and older.
Main job: unless otherwise specified, all references to a worker's 'occupation' or 'job' in this report refer to their main job, which is the one involving the greatest number of usual hours worked per week.
A complete list of definitions is found in Appendix I.
This report is the latest in a series of analytical reports on the Canadian immigrant labour market, using data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and other sources. The previous reports, based on data from 2006 to 2007, showed that immigrants who landed within the previous 10 years had lower employment rates and higher unemployment rates than their Canadian-born counterparts. Immigrants who landed more than 10 years before the time of the survey had rates that were generally comparable to the Canadian born.
In one of the reports in the series, it was determined that immigrants aged 25 to 54 who were born in Southeast Asia – regardless of when they landed – or European-born who landed more than five years earlier had labour market outcomes that were comparable or better than the Canadian born. Immigrants born elsewhere had generally lower employment rates and higher unemployment rates, regardless of when they landed.
In another report in the series, which analyzed the 2007 employment rates of immigrants aged 25 to 54 with postsecondary diplomas or degrees, it was found that those who landed within the previous five years had lower employment rates, if they obtained their postsecondary education outside North America or Europe. Immigrants with university degrees from Canada, United States or Europe and who landed in Canada more than five years earlier had comparable employment rates to Canadian-born university graduates.
The previous reports on the immigrant labour market have acknowledged that an immigrant's labour market experience goes beyond simply whether or not they are employed.
1.1.1 Difficulties for immigrants in the Canadian labour market
The difficulties that immigrants to Canada – particularly those who have landed more recently – face in finding employment or finding employment related to their background and experiences are well-documented. 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 These difficulties can include, in no particular order: recognition of foreign credentials; comparative level of educational attainment; degree and length of experience abroad and within Canada; differences in quality of education in some countries; language barriers and related difficulties; varying strength of social networks; and knowledge of and information about the Canadian labour market. These issues are particularly relevant for those who have landed more recently.
1.1.2 Context for job quality
In order to contextualize the comparison of job quality characteristics between immigrants and the Canadian born, it is important to understand any similarities or differences in general demographics, education levels and main-job occupation information.
Immigrant worker's age, period of landing, sex, size of the firm where they are employed, educational attainment, occupational group, among others, can (and often do) differ from the Canadian born. Since these contextual variables have varying degrees of association with employment quality indicators discussed in this report, such as wages and non-wage benefits, job tenure and union coverage, they are presented in Appendix II to allow for a better understanding of any differences. An upcoming Statistics Canada report will examine these indicators and their various associative characteristics through more rigorous analytical modelling.
1.2 Job quality framework
While wages are traditionally used to assess job quality, there are many more measures that can be used. 9 , 10 Work schedules and work arrangements, job permanency, non-wage benefits, union coverage and formal and informal job training are some other employment quality characteristics.
This report uses the Framework for the Statistical Measure of Quality of Employment currently being developed by a group of statistical agencies from a number of developed countries in Europe and North America, along with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations (UN). 11 The dimensions, and the statistical indicators nationally available for both immigrants and the Canadian born, are presented in the following table.
In this report, there are three main sources of data for the employment quality indicators: the Labour Force Survey (LFS 2008), the Workplace Employee Survey (WES 2005) and the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS 2003 and 2005). The detailed definitions of these indicators are found in Appendix I.
2 Safety and Ethics of Employment
2.1 Proportion of immigrants with a work-related injury in either 2003 or 2005 were lower than non-immigrants
In 2005, 2.6% of employed immigrants aged 25 to 54 had an activity-limiting workplace injury during the previous 12 months, which was lower than that of Canadian-born workers (3.9%). This was little changed from 2003, with the percentages of workers reporting workplace injuries of 2.7% and 4.2%, respectively. Injuries data for 2003 based on occupational group are found in Appendix III.
Among older workers, the pattern was similar: in 2005, 1.9% of employed immigrants aged 55 and over reported an activity-limiting workplace injury during the previous 12 months, compared with 3.0% of older Canadian-born workers.
3 Income and benefits from employment
Of all employment quality measures, wages have been the most traditional analytical focus, at least in the Canadian context. Higher hourly wages are commonly associated with greater personal and collective socio-economic well-being. A number of Canadian studies, many based on Census data, have extensively studied earnings differentials between immigrants and the Canadian born; four of them point to greater earnings for Canadian born compared with immigrants, although the gaps often narrowed with increased time since landing. 12 , 13 , 14 , 15
3.1 Wage-related indicators
3.1.1 Canadian-born employees aged 25 to 54 earned $2.28 more per hour than immigrants
In 2008, the average hourly wage of a core working age Canadian-born employee was $23.72, while the average hourly wage of a Canadian immigrant employee was $21.44 – a gap of $2.28 per hour (Table 2). A gap existed regardless of when the immigrants landed, but was widest with immigrants who landed within the previous five years ($5.04), and narrowest with immigrants who landed more than 10 years before ($1.32).
The gap was wider for employees with university degrees. When comparing immigrants aged 25 to 54 with university degrees with their Canadian-born counterparts, there was a $5 hourly-wage gap in 2008 ($25.32 vs. $30.33). Although narrower, there was still a gap between university-educated immigrants who landed more than 10 years earlier and Canadian born degree-holders ($27.86 vs. $30.33).
Having worked at a current job for a relatively short period of time can mean lower wages compared with all employees. For example, Canadian-born employees aged 25 to 54 who have worked at their current job for no more than five years earned $2.36 less than Canadian-born employees of any job tenure (Table 2). When comparing Canadian-born employees and immigrant employees who landed within the previous five years, where both groups have job tenure of no more than five years, the gap in average hourly wages was $3.33, a smaller gap than for all Canadian-born and more recent immigrant employees with any job tenure ($5.04).
3.1.2 Immigrant employees aged 55 and over had an hourly wage similar to Canadian born
In 2008, the average hourly wage of older immigrant employees was 63 cents lower than their Canadian-born counterparts (Appendix IV). When looking at the results for older immigrants who landed more than 10 years earlier, which comprise the overwhelming majority of older immigrant workers, the gap was negligible, at 12 cents per hour.
3.1.3 Higher share of immigrants were earning under $10 per hour than Canadian-born employees
Looking beyond average wages, looking at the wage distribution of employees provides further insight into the differences between immigrants and Canadian born.
In 2008, the proportion of immigrants earning less than $10 per hour was 1.8 times higher than the Canadian born (Chart 1). At the other end of the spectrum, there was a lower share of immigrants earning $35 or more per hour than the Canadian born.
The largest gaps in wage distribution were between Canadian born employees and immigrants who landed within the previous five years. In 2008, for example, the share of these immigrants earning less than $10 per hour was nearly three times higher than Canadian-born employees, and the share of these immigrant employees who landed more recently earning $35 or more per hour was much lower than the Canadian born (Chart 1).
In 2008, even the shares of immigrant employees who landed in Canada more than 10 years earlier and were earning less than $10 per hour was greater than the Canadian born, and the share earning $35 or more per hour was less than Canadian-born employees (Table 2).
Wage comparisons based on occupational groups are found in Appendix III.
3.2 Non-wage benefits
Non-wage benefits are measures of employment quality, as they relate to not only future personal benefits and family financial security (e.g., life insurance and pensions) but also to current health and well-being (e.g., dental care, supplemental medical coverage).
3.2.1 Share of immigrant employees with dental and extended health coverage similar to Canadian-born employees
In 2005, the share of immigrant employees with dental plans or supplementary medical coverage from their employer was similar to that of Canadian-born employees. This was true for immigrants regardless of their period of landing (Table 2) or broad occupational group (Appendix III).
For other non-wage benefits, specifically pension plans and life insurance coverage, however, the share of immigrants with access to them through their employer was lower than their Canadian-born counterparts. In 2005, the gap between immigrant employees participating in an employer-sponsored pension plan and participating Canadian-born employees was 8.6 percentage points – 28.4% vs. 37.0% (Table 2). When comparing the Canadian born with immigrants who landed more than 10 years earlier, there was still a gap of 5.0 percentage points.
For employees with life insurance coverage from their employer, there was a gap of 8.1 percentage points; 56.9% for immigrants and 65.0% for the Canadian born (Table 2). Even immigrant employees who landed more than 10 years earlier had a lower rate of employer-sponsored life insurance coverage than Canadian-born employees.
3.2.2 Core working-age immigrant employees had slightly fewer annual vacation days in 2005
In 2005, core working-age Canadian-born employees were entitled to an average of 15.4 vacation days, slightly higher than the 14.2 days that immigrant employees were entitled to (Table 2). The vacation leave gap between the Canadian born and immigrants who landed more than 10 years earlier was even smaller, at 0.6 days.
Among older employees, the number of vacation days for immigrants was slightly higher than that of older Canadian-born workers, particularly those who landed in Canada over 10 years before (18.1 days vs. 16.9 days; Appendix IV). It is worth noting that the number of vacation days a worker is entitled to is strongly associated with current job tenure (for both Canadian born and immigrants), an employment quality characteristic described in Section 5.
4 Working hours and balancing work and non-working life
Working hours, whether they are excessively long or short, can have a significant impact on the well being of the individual and of the family. Working time arrangements, such as flexible schedules, are also important for assessing work-life balance.
4.1 Working hours
4.1.1 Immigrants worked, on average, slightly more hours each week than Canadian born
In 2008, the average usual weekly hours worked by immigrants in their main job was 0.2 hours higher than that of Canadian born workers (Table 3). The gap was wider for immigrants who landed more than 10 years earlier.
Older immigrants were even more likely to be working a longer average workweek than their Canadian-born counterparts (Appendix IV). Those who landed more than 10 years earlier were usually working, on average, 0.9 hours more per week than older Canadian-born workers.
4.1.2 Share of immigrants and Canadian born working long work weeks in 2008 were similar
In 2008, nearly one in ten workers aged 25 to 54 (9.4% of those born in Canada, 9.1% of immigrants) usually worked 50 or more hours per week in their main job (Table 3). Immigrants who landed within the previous five years were the least likely (6.2%) to work these long work weeks in 2008, while those who landed prior to 1998 were most likely (10.0%).
There was also virtually no difference in the share of immigrants and Canadian born working 15 or fewer hours (3.8% vs. 3.6%) in 2008.
4.1.3 Similar shares of immigrants and Canadian born were multiple-job holders
Working at more than one job can be seen as a proxy indicator that the workers' main job may not be providing all the necessary economic benefits needed by the individual, leading them to find a second job to make ends meet. In a 1995 survey, nearly two-thirds (65%) of Canadian moonlighters were doing so to meet regular expenses, pay off debts, buy something special or save for the future. 16
In 2008, employed immigrants were just as likely to be working at more than one job as those born in Canada (Table 3). There were few differences based on an immigrant's period of landing.
4.1.4 Immigrants with multiple jobs were working more total hours than their Canadian-born counterparts
While immigrants were as likely as the Canadian born to be moonlighting, those that did were working longer hours in all their jobs compared with Canadian-born multiple-job holders. In 2008, immigrants who had more than one job were working an average of 50.0 hours, which was 2.3 hours per week more than Canadian-born multiple-job holders (Table 3). This gap was evident for all immigrants, regardless of when they landed in Canada, but particularly for those who landed prior to 1998.
4.1.5 Share of immigrants working extra hours in their main job was lower than their Canadian-born counterparts
In 2008, 20.3% of all immigrant employees aged 25 to 54 worked at least some overtime, lower than the share of Canadian-born employees (26.6%); this lower share was present regardless of the immigrant's period of landing (Table 3).
For all employees who did work extra time, the share of immigrant employees who were paid for at least some of that extra time was slightly higher than that of their Canadian-born counterparts (48.9% vs. 46.0%).
4.2 Part-time work and involuntary part time
The majority of workers in Canada work full time in their main job. Those who work part time voluntarily do so for any number of reasons: they have family-related responsibilities, they are attending school or they have an illness or disability; these are choices meant to establish some degree of balance between work and family life or health. While most part-timers do so by choice, those that are part time involuntarily (i.e., they would like full-time work but cannot get it) represent an important indicator of employment quality.
4.2.1 Proportion of core-age immigrants working part time similar to that of Canadian-born workers
In 2008, a similar proportion of core working-age immigrants were working part time as employed Canadian born (11.5% vs. 11.7%; Table 3). Among older workers, however, the share of immigrants working part time was lower than that of older Canadian-born workers (19.2% vs. 23.7%; Appendix IV).
4.2.2 Higher share of immigrants were working part time involuntarily
Most core working-age workers in Canada who work part time do so voluntarily – whether out of personal preference, because they are attending school or because they have family-related responsibilities. However, some people who work part time do so involuntarily; they would like to have full-time hours but are unable to get them for a variety of reasons.
Among part-time workers, the share of immigrants who cited working part time involuntarily was higher than Canadian-born part-timers in 2008 (Table 3). While this gap persisted regardless of period of landing, it was narrowest for those who landed more than 10 years earlier, but widest between those who landed within the previous five years and the Canadian born (41.0% vs. 29.9%).
4.3 Flexible work arrangements
4.3.1 Flexible work arrangements were more prevalent among immigrant workers who landed more than 10 years earlier
Providing workers with more control over their work schedules is thought to better enable them to meet their personal and family needs and indirectly contributes to productivity. 17 Work arrangements include, among other things, reduced work weeks, flexible hours or compressed work weeks.
The latest data on this subject for 2005, when about six out of every 100 employees aged 25 to 54 had made an agreement with their employer to work a reduced workweek; there was little difference in the proportion of Canadian born or immigrants with such an arrangement (Table 3). Additionally, just over one-third of all core-working age employed workers – whether born in Canada or elsewhere – were working schedules with flexible hours in 2005.
Working a compressed work week, however, was less common among immigrant employees than Canadian born in 2005, even if they landed in Canada more than 10 years earlier (Table 3).
5 Stability and security of work, and social protection
Employment quality can also be measured in terms of a person's stability and security of work. Two measures of this are the proportion of employees in temporary jobs, and the tenure of workers in their current job.
5.1 Temporary positions were more common for immigrants who landed more recently
Having a permanent position provides the job-holder with a certain measure of job security, which can contribute to their overall sense of well-being and economic stability. Temporary positions, conversely, are less secure and have a fixed duration.
In 2008, a slightly larger share of immigrants were working in temporary positions than Canadian-born employees (9.7% vs. 8.3%; Table 4). The share of immigrants who landed within the previous five years in temporary positions was nearly double that of their Canadian-born counterparts, while the share of those who landed more than 10 years earlier in temporary jobs was lower than Canadian-born employees.
5.2 Core-working age Canadian-born workers were more likely to have very long current job tenure, even when compared with immigrants who landed more than 10 years earlier
Job tenure is considered to be another important aspect of job security. The longer one is working in a specific job for a specific organization, the greater the likelihood that other measures such as job permanency, wages and non-wage benefits may improve. 18 , 19 , 20
By and large, job tenure gaps between immigrants and the Canadian born are to be expected, as most immigrants have not been in Canada long enough to establish very long tenures with their current employer. In 2008, a greater proportion of employed immigrants aged 25 to 54 had job tenure of 12 months or less or 13 to 60 months than their Canadian-born counterparts, and a much smaller proportion of immigrants had job tenure of more than 20 years compared with the Canadian born (Table 4).
On average, immigrant workers aged 25 to 54 had been at their current jobs for 2½ fewer years than their Canadian-born counterparts (74.1 months vs. 103.1 months). The average length of job tenure differed widely by time since landing, ranging from 26.4 months for those who landed within the previous five years to 95.0 months for those who landed more than 10 years earlier.
Only among those immigrants who landed in Canada 20 or more years earlier do we see job tenures that are higher for immigrants than Canadian born. In 2008, immigrants who landed 20 or more years earlier make up over one-third of all core-working age immigrant workers. These long-term immigrants have both a greater share of job tenures of more than 20 years (14.0% vs. 12.6%) and longer overall average job tenures (112.3 months vs. 103.1 months) than the Canadian born.
6 Social dialogue and workplace relationships
Generally speaking, social dialogue refers to the freedom and right to organize and bargain collectively. Collective bargaining coverage is a employment quality characteristic that is associated with other indicators mentioned in this report, including wages and non-wage benefits. 21 , 22 , 23 It is also associated with current job tenure and occupation.
6.1 Collective bargaining coverage more prevalent for Canadian-born employees
Union coverage among immigrant employees aged 25 to 54 in 2008 was lower than the Canadian born regardless of period of landing (Chart 2). For example, the share of Canadian-born employees to have union coverage were nearly 1.5 times higher than immigrants as a whole, and was 1.3 times higher than immigrants who landed more than 10 years earlier.
There was less of a difference in union coverage among older employees. In 2008, 37.7% of older Canadian employees were covered under a collective bargaining agreement, compared with 34.4% of immigrant employees who landed in Canada more than 10 years earlier (Appendix IV).
7 Skills development and life-long learning
Having access to training, whether informal or formal in nature, is considered an important job characteristic. Training not only provides the employee an opportunity to learn and develop, but may also improve their safety on the job.
7.1 Similar shares of immigrant and Canadian-born workers received on-the job training
In 2005, there was very little difference between the proportions of immigrants and Canadian-born employees receiving on-the-job training in the previous 12 months (Table 5). However, core-aged employees who were born in Canada were more likely to have received classroom training than immigrants (40.6% vs. 32.3%); the gap was widest between the Canadian born and immigrants who landed more than 10 years before, as this group was least likely to have received classroom training in the previous 12 months.
7.2 Share of employed university-educated immigrants with more formal education than required for their occupation much higher than that of their Canadian-born counterparts
Comparing with what is normally required for the job to the education the employees have actually received, one can get a good idea of the degree to which some people are over-, or under-qualified for the job that they have. Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) in conjunction with a consortium of academics, employers, unions and government officials created a matrix to determine what level of education is "normally required" for a particular occupational group. 24
Other research has indicated that overqualification for all workers can be associated with age, full time/part time, union coverage, size of firm where the person is employed, field of study and industry of employment. For immigrants, it can also be associated with institutional and language barriers; difficulties related to recognition of foreign credentials and experience; and a variety of incidental factors such as discrimination encountered by some immigrants. 25 , 26
In 2008, over 3,000,000 workers in Canada aged 25 to 54 had a level of education that was higher than the normal requirements for the job. Over two-fifths (42.1%) of immigrant workers in this age group had a higher level education for their job than normally required, while just over one-quarter (28.1%) of Canadian-born workers were similarly over-qualified (Table 5). Regardless of period of landing, immigrants had higher shares of over-qualification compared with the Canadian born.
In 2008, over 1,100,000 workers aged 25 to 54 who had a university degree were working in occupations whose normal requirements were at most a college education or apprenticeship. The share of immigrants with degrees who were over-qualified was 1.5 times higher than their Canadian-born counterparts (60.1% vs. 40.5%; Table 5).
Over-qualification was particularly prevalent in 2008 among university-educated immigrants who landed within the previous five years; two-thirds were working in occupations that usually required at most a college education or apprenticeship (Table 5). Similar results were seen in recent research using the 2006 Census. 27 By period of landing, the share of overqualified in 2008 non-management workers was lowest among immigrants who landed more than 10 years earlier (54.8%); this was still nearly 1.4 times higher than that of the Canadian born.
Shares of overqualified workers can vary by occupational group. These data, for both immigrants and Canadian born with university degrees who are in occupations that usually require a lower level of education, are presented in Appendix III.
8 Intrinsic nature of work
This dimension of employment quality aims to shed light on how workers feel about the work they are doing, irrespective of their wages, benefits or working conditions. One indicator available that can provide some insight is that of job satisfaction. Typically, job satisfaction has been fairly stable and positive in most national surveys going back to the 1970s. 28
8.1 High job satisfaction for immigrants and Canadian born, although being 'very satisfied' was more prevalent among Canadian-born employees
In 2005, most employees aged 25 to 54 reported very high levels of job satisfaction. Being satisfied or very satisfied in their job was reported by 91.9% of Canadian-born employees and 89.4% of immigrant employees.
However, the proportion of immigrants of core-working age reporting being 'satisfied' in their job was much higher and their share of being 'very satisfied' with their job was much lower than Canadian-born employees, regardless of their period of landing (Chart 3).