Statistics Canada Reveals Labour Market Outcomes of Refugees who Came to Canada in 2003

Study Finds That Privately Sponsored Refugees Are the Highest Earning Refugees 

Statistics Canada has released a study that compares different categories of refugees who came to Canada in 2003 when it comes to their success in entering the labour market. More specifically, the study breaks down how many refugees in each category were successful in gaining employment and how many required social assistance. 

Refugees who were studied by the researchers include government-assisted refugees, refugee claimants who became permanent residents, privately sponsored refugees, and refugee claimants who did not become permanent residents throughout the study. Researchers used data from landing records and tax records to help determine the findings.  

Privately Sponsored Refugees and Claimants With PR 

The study found that privately sponsored refugees had the highest employment rates within their first five years after arriving in Canada or making a refugee claim. This is likely due to the strong network of support that they have with their sponsors along with strong English or French-speaking capabilities.  

Privately sponsored refugees also reported the highest income, with an average income of $35,000 reported after 11 years. 

Refugee claimants who obtained permanent residence reached the same level of employment as privately sponsored refugees after just four years. By the six-year mark, this group showed the highest employment rate.  

Government-Sponsored Refugees 

Within 13 years after they arrived in Canada, 72.4% of government-sponsored refugees reported steady employment income. However, government-assisted refugees also start their time in Canada as the lowest-earning refugees. 

Only 50% of refugee claimants who were unable to obtain permanent residence reported an income over their 13 years in Canada.  

Rates of Social Assistance 

Refugee claimants who obtained permanent residence were reported to be considerably more likely to require social assistance within one year after making a refugee claim. However, in contrast, their financial outcomes improved at a significantly faster rate compared to other refugees.  

 The majority of government-sponsored refugees also received social assistance, with 91% requiring assistance within their first year. By year two, this number dropped to 68.5%. The reason for this high number is the Refugee Assistance Program, which provides income support to new refugees and helps them pay for expenses during their first year.   

Unsurprisingly, privately sponsored refugees reported the lowest rates of social assistance within their first year in Canada, likely due to the financial support they receive from their sponsors. For instance, private refugee sponsors must provide refugees with lodging, settlement assistance, and financial and emotional support, usually for 1 year after they arrive in Canada. Because of the level of community support that they receive, it’s evident – based on the findings from Statistic Canada – that privately sponsored refugees find the most success as the years pass compared to any other category of refugee.