Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NHS: Immigrants, Minorities Struggle to Earn Living, Build Life in Canada

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NHS: Immigrants, Minorities Struggle to Earn Living, Build Life in Canada

Article excerpt

NHS survey shows struggle of immigrants


OTTAWA - Samer Elbanna left Egypt in search of a better life for his family. But leaving a job in procurement -- one that had him dealing with companies all over the world -- in order to sling burgers at an Ottawa fast food joint wasn't what he had in mind.

Now the 29-year-old is casting a longing glance back at his homeland, wondering if he has a better shot there at the life he dreams about.

"I'm now thinking a lot of that. Because my life is not easy here," Elbanna said.

"So I'm thinking about going back to Egypt. I have everything there, or I have to fight here to be something."

With his daughter Farida about to turn two next month and no prospects on the horizon of landing a job like the one he left in Egypt, Elbanna and his wife Sara are wondering if they should just cut their losses and return home.

If it were simply a matter of paying his dues, Elbanna says he would do it. But it's hard to make ends meet when you're new to the country and you've got a young family and you're making minimum wage, or just above it.

Earning such a low salary is especially tough when you know you've got just as much experience -- or maybe even more -- as someone else who just happens to have been born here.

"It's very difficult," Elbanna said. "You feel like, so what is the benefit of my experience? What is the benefit of my education? It's nothing. That's it."

The latest batch of numbers from the 2011 National Household Survey, released Wednesday, helps to illustrate what appears to be a growing divide between rich and poor in Canada, one that seems defined, at least in part, by divisions of age and race.

Some 4.8 million Canadians, nearly 15 per cent, are living in poverty in Canada, the Statistics Canada survey found. About 41 per cent of those living in low-income neighbourhoods belonged to a visible minority -- 47.5 per cent in those neighbourhoods considered "very low-income," compared with 24.2 per cent for other neighbourhoods.

Low-income neighbourhoods also had a higher proportion of immigrants -- 36.6 per cent, to be precise, with nearly half of them having arrived in Canada between 2001 and 2010. …

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