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MYTH: Immigrants tend to live off social assistance FACT: Immigrants have much lower social assistance rates than the Canadian-born population.

July 3, 2018

The vast majority of people do not arrive in Canada hoping to depend on social welfare. In 2015, scholars Tracy Smith-Carrier and Jennifer Mitchell found that very few immigrants depend on social assistance in comparison to Canada’s general population. Moreover, immigrants who are sponsored by family members already in Canada are not eligible for social assistance.

 

Canada's immigration policies primarily attract highly skilled workers than any other class of immigrants. As shown in the graph, the economic class is larger than the family class and refugee streams combined. These newcomers bring skills and education, and they often enter the labour market quickly despite the challenges of foreign credential recognition and the lack of established professional networks. 

 

Immigrants are more likely to own a business compared to people born in Canada. Some come through the Business Immigration Program aiming to start a business. Others turn to entrepreneurship due to lack of job opportunities and out of necessity. Due to their experiences and struggles newcomers have become resilient, entrepreneurial, and creative.

 

A recent Statistics Canada report revealed that the percentage of low-income recent immigrant adults who had work-limiting disabilities was 11%, significantly lower than the 26%of other low-income Canadians who could not work because of their disabilities.  It is evident that the general population benefit from social welfare programs more in comparison to newcomers.


Among all immigrant categories, refugee claimants are the most likely to receive social assistance income. Refugee claimants represent about one-third of 1% of the total Canadian population, and these families receive less than 5% of total social assistance payments made in Canada. Moreover, reliance on social assistance declines significantly with time in Canada as language and employment skills grow. (Source)

 

 

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