Quebec immigrants more likely to be unemployed, overqualified, report finds
IRIS research group finds newcomers to Quebec face increasing challenges to employment
New arrivals to Quebec experience higher unemployment, have lower incomes and are more overqualified for their jobs than other Quebecers, according to a new report by a Montreal research group.
The report, published by the Institut de recherche et d'informations socio-économiques (IRIS), found that in the past ten years, the unemployment rate for immigrants (11.2 per cent) has been nearly double that of people born in Canada (5.8 per cent).
Furthermore, 43 per cent of immigrants are overqualified for their jobs, compared to 29.7 per cent of Quebecers who are overqualified.
Mohammad, whose last name has been omitted to protect his identity and his job prospects, came to Canada more than two years ago as a refugee and is now a permanent resident.
But he has been unable to find a job as an accountant, despite being at the top of his field in his native Syria and in Qatar where he worked and taught.
"When I was working in Qatar at age 30, I was making the equivalent of $100 US per hour. I was the youngest instructor [at the Qatar Finance and Business Academy] and I was doing very well," he told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.
"I was wearing a suit and a tie and speaking in conferences. But now, in Canada, I'm looking to work in a restaurant or a shop."
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Thousands of resumés, little response
Since arriving in Canada, Mohammad estimates he has sent nearly 3,000 resumés to companies across Canada. Of those, he claims that only six or seven have resulted in responses, and three or four have ended in interviews.
Although these interviews have gone well and employers have shown interest, Mohammad says they have nearly all eventually stopped contacting him.
Mohammad has landed a couple short-term accounting contracts, which have brought him to Toronto. His contracts have expired, and he's again unemployed. He'd like to return to Montreal, but is ready to go wherever the work is.
"I've even submitted my resumé to companies in the north," he said.
Discrimination by employers?
Although he says he cannot yet pinpoint what drives this pattern, Mohammad thinks it has something to do with discrimination against him because of his identity – especially his name.
The report similarly attributes the employment situation of immigrants in Quebec to discrimination in the labour market, and argues the increasing racialization of immigrants to Canada has intensified discrimination on the part of employers.
IRIS researcher Julia Posca wrote the report and said while she applauds the government's openness to immigrants, she argues that is not enough.
"We should focus more on the Quebec government's lack of efforts to reduce this inequality," said Posca.
"It's good that we're open to immigration, but once we accept people in the country, we have to get the job they hope they get. We fail our immigrants when we tell them you're going to get a better life here, and that's not what's happening."