Pathways to Prosperity (P2P) is a national research and policy-focused network intended to foster welcoming communities that promote the economic, social and civic integration of immigrants in Canada. Based in London, Ontario, the P2P partnership includes all key federal and provincial migration ministries; municipalities; national, regional, and local organizations involved in newcomer settlement; and researchers from over fifty universities.
In these two blog posts, I focus on conference findings of interest to persons in smaller population centres.
Pathways to Prosperity 2015 National Conference abuzz
Just weeks after the installation of a new Liberal federal government and in anticipation of the arrival of thousands of Syrian refugees to Canada, participants in the Pathways to Prosperity 2015 National Conference were abuzz with speculation as to how policies and programs might change in the coming months. Aptly entitled
many of the conference speakers were fresh from meetings with government officials and had positive news to report. One Citizenship and Immigration Canada official noted to thunderous applause,
“we are here to work with you, not against you.”
The conference took place over several days in downtown Toronto at the beginning of December. The main conference was the third annual event and attracted over 330 participants, up by approximately 40 percent over last year.
In the workshop “Immigration to Northern, Rural and Remote Communities” (NRRCs), presenters provided an overview of some of the challenges of living in so-called NRRC’s as well as an overview of practical and successful ways to attract and retain newcomers living in these communities.
Michael Haan of University of Western Ontario kicked off the presentations by discussing the use of tax filing data to illustrate secondary migration tendencies. Unlike CIC landing data which only indicates the intended place of destination, tax filer data such as IMDB and Longitudinal Worker File (LWF) can show movement of immigrants within Canada after landing. According to this data, two-thirds of residents in Canada never leave the economic region they were born in. Migration (and immigration) is an exceptional act. Furthermore, interprovincial migration rates are declining, with 83% of residents never residing outside their province of birth.
This was a fascinating presentation, but unfortunately this data is not available to the general public. Select researchers such as Prof. Haan do have access.
Settlement and Housing Experiences in Mid-sized Canadian Cities
The second presentation focused on the settlement and housing experiences of recent immigrants in small- and mid-sized cities. Presented by Carlos Teixeira of University of British Columbia-Okanagan, this presentation was based on a survey of 80 recent immigrants (arriving 2000-2014) who are renting their accommodations in Kamloops and Kelowna, BC plus 19 qualitative interviews. (Click here to download the Presentation)
Teixeira began by noting the gaps in the literature and published data on the settlement experiences of immigrants to Canada, particularly when it comes to accessing services and housing experiences in smaller and mid-sized cities. Within this context, he argued, the B.C. cities of Kelowna and Kamloops are good areas to study phenomena related to immigrant settlement.
The survey identified several reasons that immigrants chose to live in Kelowna or Kamloops:
- quality of life/weather conditions
- presence of family members
- economic opportunities
- city size and safety
A majority of those interviewed — 52.5% in Kelowna and 67.5% in Kamloops – stated that they already knew someone (relatives, friends and/or employers) before moving to that city.
Immigrants surveyed for this research highly recommended improved availability of information on settlement and housing, either prior to arrival in Canada or upon arrival. It was felt that the availability of specialized information would improve settlement experiences.
Teixeira closed by arguing that immigrant attraction and retention in mid-sized communities such as Kamloops and Kelowna depends on the presence of (a) more subsidized/affordable housing; (b) job opportunities that match immigrants’ qualifications and that offer an adequate income, and (c) quality services and programs to integrate new immigrants into the community.
Sarah Wayland, Principal Investigator