Pandemic Worsened Employment Gaps Despite Recent Immigrants Working in Essential Sectors

According to Statistics Canada, one in three of the 4.3 million residents in British Columbia are born outside of Canada. Our province not only excels at attracting new Canadians but also retaining them as they build their lives in communities across the province. Three-quarters of BC’s landed immigrant population have been in the country for over a decade making up 24.5% of BC’s population.

We first felt the economic ramifications of the pandemic in 2020. Unemployment among the general population increased to 8.9%, almost double the 4.7% unemployment rate observed the year previously. The employment gap was particularly significant between the Canadian-born population and landed immigrants with the unemployment rate for landed immigrants a full percentage higher than those born in Canada, the largest gap since 2010.

In 2021, the most popular industries for new and recent immigrant workers were accommodation and food services, manufacturing, and professional services, transportation and warehousing, and wholesale and retail trade. New and recent immigrants account for between 8.5% – 12.9% of the workforce in these industries, many of which we consider essential. From 2010-2019, immigrants have been vital to the Canadian economy. During this period, immigrant workers were responsible for 84% of the growth in the total labour force and accounted for 55% of the growth in high- and medium-skilled jobs.

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