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Canadian immigrants wages

Canadian immigrants wages rising, but still below Canadian-born workers

A new Statistics Canada report released on February 1, 2021, reveals that Canadian immigrants wages were on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic, with some groups even surpassing Canadian-born workers. However, overall Canadian immigrants ages are still below those of Canadian-born workers.

The median entry wage for immigrants admitted to Canada in 2017 was the highest to date, reaching $30,100 in 2018. This number surpassed the previous high of $26,500 for 2017 outcomes of immigrants admitted in 2016.

By comparison, Canadian-born workers had a median wage of $37,400 in 2018, 24.2 per cent higher than the median wage for immigrants overall that year.

Factors driving up median immigrant wages

Canada’s Express Entry immigration system is to credit, in part, for rising Canadian immigrants wages.

In 2016, only 52.6 per cent of new permanent residents to Canada came to the country through the federal Express Entry economic immigration programs. By 2018, that had steadily increased to just over 58 per cent.

The Express Entry requirement for employers to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) approval usually involves demonstrating that the immigrant will be paid at least the same amount as the median wage for Canadians in such positions.

As well, the Express Entry programs generally require that an applicant must have work experience – this helps to filter in candidates that command higher wages. Immigrants with previous work experience often earn higher wages than the median wage for Canadian-born workers.

“Pre-admission experience, which can provide immigrants with language skills and knowledge of the job market, can help immigrants settle more quickly than those with no pre-admission experience”.

Statistics Canada Report

Other factors accounting for higher Canadian immigrant wages are study in Canada, knowledge of the country’s two official languages and their ability to get their foreign credentials recognized by Canadian employers.

Median entry wages for immigrants admitted in 2017, by pre-admission experience

Canadian immigrants wages
Source: Statistics Canada

In the 2018 tax year, immigrants who had arrived in Canada the previous year and had both a study and work permit had a median entry wage of $44,000. Those with only a work permit had a median wage of $39,100 that year. Both groups surpassed Canadian-born workers in median entry wages for that period.