RACISM REMAINS A PROBLEM: Why Are People of Colour Having Trouble Getting Good Jobs?

By Flecker, Karl | CCPA Monitor, October 2007 | Go to article overview

RACISM REMAINS A PROBLEM: Why Are People of Colour Having Trouble Getting Good Jobs?


Flecker, Karl, CCPA Monitor


A recent population projection study done for the Department of Canadian Heritage predicts that by 2017 one in every five residents of Canada will be a member of what the government defines as "a visible minority." This means that, in just 10 years, there will be from 6 to 8 million people of colour living in Canada.

Add to this picture an aging population and declining birth rates, and the result is a country that is replenishing its population base largely through immigration. And since 80% of the immigrants to Canada now come from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific region, the vast majority are people of colour-and they are also the primary source of growth in our labour force.

Consider these statistics:

* Among the 7 million Canadians aged 18 to 34, 20% are persons of colour.

* One in three of 5-to-15-year-old Canadians is racially visible.

* Two-thirds of all children of colour born in Canada are under the age of 16.

* The majority-56%-of Canada's Aboriginal population is under the age of 24 (compared to 34% of all Canadians).

* The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples forecast over 10 years ago that an additional 225,000 jobs would have to be found over the next 20 years just for members of this community.

* The percentage of racialized immigrants with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or higher is 31.5 %, while the proportion of Canadian-born workers of colour with a BA degree or higher is 37.5%. For those not racialized and Canadian-born, the figure for those with a BA or higher is only 19.1% for the same age group.

* Racialized immigrants hold the second highest unemployment rate (10%) eclipsed, surprisingly, by Canadian-born workers of colour (11%), while white workers face the lowest unemployment rate at 7%.

* The unemployment rate for racialized immigrant youth (15-to-24-year-olds) is 14.8%, and for racialized Canadian-born youth 15.5% - compared with the overall youth unemployment rate of 13.3%.

Bottom line: The average earnings for workers of colour are significantly lower than for other workers. In addition, the type of work they may have is insecure, with fewer benefits and protections. And, tragically, higher education, when viewed in colour, does not translate into more income or more job security.

Racial discrimination, both overt and covert, is clearly a large contributing factor to the poor labour market outcomes of workers of colour. Lower incomes, higher unemployment, and precarious work are prevalent for workers of colour as a whole. The fact that Canadian-born racialized workers are doing slightly worse than racialized immigrants underlines the force of the racism operating with impunity in the labour market.

The conclusion is hard to ignore: economic disadvantage is racialized, poverty is colour-coded, and the racialized cohort, because of their colour, are not living in the black.

Racism persists in Canada, and it is impeding people of colour from entering the labour market at a pace-and place - commensurate with their skills.

One 1995 study, for example, found that the gross earnings of South Asians in Canada was nearly $7,000 less than the national average, and that the earnings of Aboriginals were $9,000 less.

Another more recent development that serves to deny racialized communities fair access to jobs is the series of "national security" policies that Canadian governments have rushed to implement in the wake of the 9/11 events in the United States. Prominent among these policies is a 186-page piece of legislation called the Anti-Terrorism Act and Security Certificates legislation that resides under what is ironically called the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

These two legal tools grant vast powers to the police and other Canadian security officials to monitor (spy on), detain, and incarcerate immigrants who are predominantly folks of colour, to do so outside of a due judicial process, and even deport them to countries where they can be tortured. …

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RACISM REMAINS A PROBLEM: Why Are People of Colour Having Trouble Getting Good Jobs?
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