Immigrants in Canada and job market – Overview

There are several statistics on immigration and the job market. With all these numbers, it’s easy to get lost! A report published in September 2018 by the Institut du Québec (IdQ) makes it clearer. Interview with one of its authors, economist Sonny Scarfone.

In Brief

According to the IdQ report, Quebec welcomed 52,388 permanent immigrants in 2017. Of this number, 85% settled in the Greater Montreal area, 60% were economic immigrants and 42% learned French.


The IdQ notes that in Quebec, between 2007 and 2017, the unemployment rate of immigrants aged 25 to 54 years ranged between 10% and 13%, to finally reach 8.7% in 2017 and 6% in August 2018. “It’s a very encouraging percentage point drop,” Mr. Scarfone believes.

Another observation is that in 2017 the unemployment rate of immigrants aged 25 to 54 who had been in Quebec for five to ten years was 6.4%, a rate comparable to that of Ontario (6.3%). However, for immigrants of the same category who had been in Quebec for less than five years, it stood at 14.1%, compared to 9.3% in Ontario.

So it would seem that economic integration of an immigrant takes more time in La Belle Province than in its neighbour Ontario… “A situation which would be explained, among others, by the bilingualism required on the Quebec labour market,” Mr. Scarfone suggests.


The report also highlights the employment rate, that is, the proportion of immigrants who work. While in 2007 it was 72.1%, it reached 77.8% in 2017, almost the same as in Ontario (78.4%). “But be careful! These figures don’t say anything about the type of jobs,” the specialist explains. “Are they precarious or not? Are they in the immigrants’ field of expertise or not?” These are important questions, he believes, if we want to talk about successful economic integration.

In addition, the retention rate is also on the rise: 84.3% of immigrants still live in Quebec five years after they arrived, compared to 75% a decade ago.

In solution mode

Despite the encouraging rates of unemployment, employment and retention, how can the situation be improved? In a December 2016 report, the IdQ proposed several avenues for solutions, such as attracting immigrants to outlying areas… and stopping, like Ontario, the requirement for Canadian work experience.

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