Syrian refugees who settled in Canada between Jan. 1, 2015 and May 10, 2016 worked less than other refugees, largely because they had been in the country for a shorter period of time. (Syrian refugees had been in the country for an average of four months, while other refugees had been here for an average of eight months, when the information was collected).
This finding appears in a new report titled “Syrian refugees who resettled in Canada in 2015 and 2016” that Statistics Canada released Tuesday detailing the socio-economic situation of Syrian refugees in Canada.
In 2015, the Canadian government announced plans to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada, with more than half assisted by the government.
In terms of earnings, Syrian refugees earned an annual average of $15,000 to $20,000 — a figure comparable to the earnings of other refugees, who had spent the same length of time in Canada.
This aspect points to one of the key findings of the report: Syrian refugees have not had much time to integrate themselves into the job market. As the report says, the first few months or years in a new country can be difficult for refugees.
“They often have fewer education credentials, less language proficiency in English or French than other immigrants, and they may also have fewer social networks and connections, particularly when they do not benefit from a private sponsor,” it reads.
Consider: in 2016, 55 per cent of Syrian refugees, who arrived between 2015 and 2016, did not speak English or French, compared with 28 per cent of refugees from other countries.
The report also highlights real differences between government-sponsored Syrian refugees, and privately sponsored refugees. Of the former category, 20 per cent spoke at least one official language, while 67 per cent of the latter category spoke at least one official language. Of the former category, two per cent held a university degree when they arrived, as opposed to 25 per cent in the latter category.
Accordingly, the former group has found it more difficult to integrate into the labour market.
Finally, the report implicitly notes that its findings are tentative. “The labour market participation of refugees can change rapidly in the first few years after admission as they gradually improve their language proficiency and professional skills,” it reads.
Canada has continued to receive Syrian refugees after 2016, mainly via private sponsorship. Almost 60,000 Syrian refugees have resettled in Canada since 2015.