Federal Report On Economic Performance Of Immigrants: The Effect Of Language Skills

CIC News
Published: May 1, 1999

A recently released Federal Report sought to determine some of the telling factors that correspond with the economic success of immigrants.

Basing itself on income tax returns submitted by immigrants landed between 1980 and 1995 and over the age of 18, the report indicated that individuals who spoke both official languages at landing reported significantly higher earnings on average than most other immigrants. Furthermore, those who had been in Canada for seven years or more tend to report higher employment earnings, and lower incidences of welfare and Unemployment Insurance benefits.

Similar findings were reported for immigrants who spoke only English (and not French) at landing.

Nationally, individuals who spoke only French (and not English) at landing tended to be less successful economically. However, the difference between French and English speaking immigrants is most likely distorted due to the fact that most French-speaking immigrants settle in Quebec, while most English-speaking immigrants settle outside of Quebec. For example, the difference in earnings between French and English speaking immigrants within the province of Quebec is not as great as the difference among these two groups on a national basis. In addition, within the province of Quebec itself, French-speaking immigrants are more successful than those who speak neither official language.

The Government promises to undertake additional studies to better understand the role that language plays in predicting immigrant economic success.

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