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Immigrants making their mark on Ontario's economy

Younger, more educated, newcomers arriving in province but wages not keeping pace
(Photo by Anamul Rezwan for Pexels)

New immigrants to Ontario are, and will be, playing a significant role in the province’s economic growth.

A report released this week by the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) highlighted the trends of the impact on the labour market by international immigrants with permanent resident status, not temporary foreign workers or international students.

International immigration to Ontario in 2022 was a record 227,424, a level that’s expected to remain high for the next few years.

The report said international immigration has contributed almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of the increase in Ontario’s workforce since the mid 2010s, much larger than the 39 per cent share observed from the late 2000s to early 2010s.

Sixty-seven per cent of the immigrants to Ontario who arrived between 2016 and 2021 live in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area.

And it’s a younger bunch that’s arriving compared to the total provincial population. 

Ninety-two per cent of immigrants who arrived in 2016 to 2022 were under 54 years of age compared to 69 per cent for the total population.

A rising share of recent immigrants are university-educated and have Canadian pre-admission work and/or study experience. 

Government policy changes have contributed to a larger share of those in the category of core working age immigrants – those aged between 25 to 54 – having post-secondary education credentials (80 per cent) and Canadian pre-admission work and/or study experience (38.5 per cent).

Based on 2021 Census numbers, many core working age immigrants (64.2 per cent) held a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2021, compared to 55.7 per cent of immigrants who landed in 2011 to 2015.

Thirty per cent held degrees, diplomas or certificates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The most popular areas of study for immigrants were business and administration (25.6 per cent), engineering (14 per cent), and health care (12.2 per cent). 

But challenges remain. Many immigrants are overqualified for their job. 

Nearly 16 per cent of this core working age group hold a university degree but were employed in a position requiring no more than a high school education.

Among recent immigrants who arrived in 2016 to 2019, the most highly educated had median wages of $49,200, also more than double the median wage of those with the lowest educational attainment ($23,000).

Immigrants in all major cities in Ontario earned lower median wages than non-immigrants in 2020.

Among the highest median wage, immigrants in Greater Sudbury ranked third in Ontario at 51,600 versus 57,600 for non-immigrants. London finished the lowest in the province at $43,200 for immigrants versus 50,800 for non-immigrants.