The Multicultural Mentorship Committee (MMC) recently hosted a “Coffee Break” zoom meeting with the Saskatoon Open Door Society. We invited members, their families, and their communities to attend.

We wanted to share with you some of what we learned.

  • Canada has always been a nation of immigration. 
    When we stop to think about it, other than our First Nations and Inuit peoples, we are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants. Recently, Saskatchewan has seen a boom in immigration, from a much wider range of countries and cultures than ever before. We are seeing people from Africa, Asia, and Latin America join our communities and workplaces.
  • Many of our immigrants are well educated but their credentials are not recognized.
  • Our population is aging. The oldest of the baby boom generation are retiring. Newcomers are an essential part of our present and future labour market. Immigration creates an important linkage in our global economy. 
  • There are two types of newcomers: Immigrants and Refugees. The difference is that refugees have to leave their home countries for safety reasons. Immigrants choose to come to Canada to start a new life, filled with possibilities.
  • Of newcomers, 58% come from economic class, 27% come from family class and 15% come from refugee class. There are two types of ways to sponsor refugees. Government sponsored (through UNHCR and IRCC) or private sponsorship (churches or groups of 5 that do paperwork and prove that they can support and sponsor a refugee for 5 years).
  • Refugees often spend years in another place (e.g. in a refugee camp) before being flown to the country that accepts them as refugees. Within a year of landing, they have to pay back the cost of that flight and be off all assistance. Canada has assisted with the Afghan crisis by automatically granting Permanent Resident status to their refugees.

There are several ways to immigrate:

  • Express entry – Federal or Provincial (jobs in demand) you can either have a job offer or win in a pool draw.
  • Family Sponsorship – Sponsor your relatives to immigrate
  • Provincial Nominee - Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP)
  • Based on merit – points based system: credit for language, education, connections, age, etc.

Did you know it costs about $32,000 for a family of three to become Canadian citizens?

The steps to immigrate are not easy. They involve getting your credentials verified and writing exams. Often, these barriers are cost prohibitive alone.

What is it like coming to Canada?

  • New and exciting, the future seems hopeful…then…
  • Frustrating… as credentials are not recognized and many employers say they want applicants to have Canadian experience.
  • As immigrants build relationships and gain skills, as well as confront their cultural differences, they end up at…
  • The Adjustment phase.

In Canada, we have 11.8 million people that leave Canada for school abroad and 13.4 million that will be retiring soon. We need a workforce to keep our economy strong. There is an estimate that 25% of the population will be 65+ by the year 2040, compared to 17% now.

A Theory of Ethnic Antagonism: The Split Labor Market:

  • Employers sometimes exploit newcomers by offering low wages. This can cause a large difference in price of labour for the same job which can cause antagonism between groups.

Newcomers just come for a better life and take the opportunities presented. This can cause friction because if they are willing to do the work for low wages, there is no incentive for the employers to increase wages. Please remember, newcomers just want to survive in their new environment.

There are ways in which immigrants can be affected as they join Canada.

  • Environmental – do they feel welcome or unwelcome?
  • Attitude – may feel distant from family/friends/culture.
  • Family factors – one member wants to immigrate and one doesn’t.

Settlement help is important. There are several settlement support organizations throughout the province.

There is concern from some Canadians that have lived here all their life that the new cultures coming will change Canadian culture. With rapid change, there are assumptions – fear of taking our jobs or being a drain on tax payers. Instead, we need to look at the economy and realize this change as a stimulant to the economy, we are all better off because of it.  Let’s remember, we are a nation of immigration!

ICYMI: The MMC recently announced an initiative to assist up to eight (8) SEIU-West members in their path to Canadian Citizenship. More information can be found here.

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