Between 1991 and 2000, 2.2 million immigrants were admitted to Canada, the highest number admitted in any decade in the past 100 years. As a consequence, the 2001 Census recorded the highest share of foreign-born in the country in 70 years (18.4%).
Migration usually entails a period of adjustment. The issues of immigrant integration and the government’s role in facilitating this process are of great importance.
The Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC), conducted by Statistics Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada under the Policy Research Initiative, is a comprehensive survey designed to study how newly arrived immigrants adjust over time to living in Canada. It uses a longitudinal design to study a sample of immigrants and refugees aged 15 years and older who arrived in Canada between October 2000 and September 2001.
About 12,000 of the roughly 164,200 people aged 15 and over who were admitted from outside Canada during this year-long period are interviewed at three different points in time to gather information on their settlement experiences (see survey methodology).
The first wave of interviews with immigrants for the LSIC was conducted between April 2001 and June 2002, some six months after their arrivals. This same group of individuals is currently being interviewed once again (approximately two years after their arrival) and will be interviewed for a third time, four years after their arrival.
Information collected from the first interview will serve as a benchmark for the settlement experiences of these newcomers. By late 2005, when all three interviews have been completed, the survey will provide a clear understanding of how the settlement process unfolds for new arrivals.
This article provides some key findings from the first wave of interviews. It examines who these immigrants are, where they settled, and why they settled where they did. It also examines their experiences in finding suitable housing, accessing health care services, obtaining education and training and entering the labour force.
As well, this article explores some of the barriers that the immigrants encountered, and who if any sources of help assisted immigrants in overcoming their difficulties.