This paper represents an overview and meta-analysis of existing research on refugee integration in Canada. The terms of reference for the work include three main components: 1) a summary of key research findings in sectors indicative of integration in Canada, such as labour force participation and income, housing careers, official language ability, and social links and practices; 2) the identification of research gaps related to refugee integration, especially as they pertain to age, gender, and diversity mainstreaming (AGDM); and 3) proposed areas of potential inquiry for UNHCR in future studies based on the findings.
The salient findings pertinent to these terms of reference are listed below.
- According to CICs (2010b) most recent analysis of government-assisted refugees (GARs), post-IRPA GARs are younger, on average, than GARs from the 1990s, with about 60% (compared to 50%) under the age of 24.
- Likewise, GARs arriving today have less education than those who arrived in the 1990s.
- CIC (2010b) observes no major shifts in the economic outcomes for preversus post-IRPA refugees. However, a decline in earnings does correspond to declines in educational attainment and lower ages at time of landing. – African GARs from Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and Congo achieve above average economic performance in the 2000s compared to below average outcomes in the 1990s.
- CIC (2007) reports that [t]he key difference between PSRs and GARs is that PSRs become self-supporting far more quickly than GARs: a higher percentage of PSRs had employment earnings during the first three years after arrival, than was the case for GARs . However, median incomes for PSRs as reported in the same study are substantially lower than they are for GARs. In-kind economic supports are not counted in the study, but the disparities are notable, given that GAR income support rates already fall below Canadas low-income cut-off. PSRs may become self-supporting more quickly than GARs, but this may be due to PSRs being pushed into the labour force more quickly, out of necessity. PSRs are reporting incomes that are between 29% and 45% of Canadas low income cut off for a family of four (Statistics Canada, 2007).
- Government data show that GARs have the highest overall uptake of settlement services (87% in 2008) of all refugee groups, followed by PSRs (69%), and refugees landed in Canada (LCRs) and their dependants (37.5%) (iCAMS data, n.d.). Separate research shows that LCRs are more likely than GARs and PSRs to access social assistance, although this varies by province. This raises the question of whether the uptake of settlement services is inversely correlated with rates of social assistance utilization.
- In Vancouver, Hiebert (2009a) finds that refugees fare better, on average, than business class principal applicants in income earnings overall. This does not mean that refugees are necessarily doing well economically, but that they are not the lowest income earners. Analysis of other major Canadian cities is in progress, and the these results will be interesting to read, given that Vancouver has the lowest proportion and number of refugees as a subgroup of immigrants across the Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver axis.
- The vast majority of refugees stay in the province to which they were originally destined. In the 2006 tax year, refugees who settled in Ontario and Alberta between 2000 and 2006 were most likely to remain there (more than 90%). BC and Quebec also retained 80% or more of refugees resettled there (Okkony- Myers, 2010).
The full report can be read here: http://www.unhcr.org/4e4123d19.html