January 31, 2015

The length of time an immigrant has been living in Canada greatly influences their yearly income, according to a report released earlier this month.

Statistics Canada analyzed the incomes of immigrants during the past five years and compared two timeframes, those who landed during 2003-2007 and those who arrived in 2008-2012. They found the incomes of immigrant tax filers steadily increased in relation to the number of years a person had been in Canada.

In 2012, immigrants who had been in the country longer earned an average of $7,000 more than those who immigrated more recently.

Delta resident Jimuel Vistan, 19, said he and his family immigrated from the Philippines nine years ago and there is a reason why his parents started out earning low incomes in Canada.

“My parents had a really difficult time when we first came to Canada,” he said. “My mom was a banker in the Philippines, but here her education was not seen as equivalent – so she couldn’t get a job in her profession.”

Vistan said his father had an even more difficult time. He had been a goldsmith in the Philippines and earned a good living, but after coming to Canada, he could only find work as a janitor.

“It took my dad eight years before he was able to get a job as a goldsmith,” Vistan said. “I don’t know how much my parents make, but I know they are definitely making more than when we first came to this country.”

Jagtar Dhaliwal, manager of employment and community development at Progressive Intercultural Community Services society (PICS) in Surrey, said for immigrants, there is much more to getting a job than just applying.

“We find out what kind of barriers they have – language barriers or lack of knowing where to go and how to use the transit systems – and we help them with that,” he said. “Then we work on their resume and cover letter and help them find a job suited to their skills.”

The field a person is in greatly influences their chances of finding employment when they arrive in Canada he said.

“It takes doctors and lawyers about four years to upgrade their degrees,” Dhaliwal said, “but nurses don’t usually have that issue.”

Dhaliwal said many immigrants coming to Canada are highly educated with masters degrees or PhDs, and they are aware of what they will need to do to work in Canada.

“Before they arrive they look on websites and inform themselves, so they know what to expect – but we are here to help if they need any support.”



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