Comparing Apples to Apples

May 31st, 2011

At first blush few would challenge the proposition that Canada is a very good country in which to live and plan a future.

In the past few days alone our good fortune has been twice recognized. A report published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranked Canada second on a quality of life index among the 34 major industrialized countries surveyed. We scored at or near the top in areas such as housing, education, health, and life satisfaction. The one blemish on our record and what prevented us from gaining the number one spot is that voter turnout in Canada leaves something to be desired. Although in truth that may say more about our politicians than the Canadian people. The second kudo comes from the Institute for Economics and Peace, which just produced its Global Peace Index for 2011. Canada was considered the eighth most peaceful country out of 153 nations examined. To put our ranking in perspective, the U.S. comes in at the 85th position.

These kinds of international surveys appear with some regularity and tend to reinforce a certain sense of smugness that has become part of our national character. The fact is that we still have a considerable way to go in extending the same quality of life opportunities to all Canadians, regardless of their ethnicity.

Here’s an example of what I mean. A recent study conducted by Simon Fraser University economist Krishna Pendakur showed that Canadian-born visible minorities earn less than their similarly qualified white counterparts. More particularly, a Canadian-born visible minority man earns about 18% less than a Canadian-born white man with similar education and experience. The research also suggests that the wage gap has actually increased from 1970 to the present, which puts into doubt our self-image of a society that is becoming more comfortable with diversity.

There is evidence to suggest that more recent immigrants to Canada have a tougher time gaining an economic foothold in our country than immigrants of the past. This should not be the case because the newer arrivals are better educated and trained than those who came before them. So what gives here? Well, for one thing, in the past few decades immigrants to Canada are much more likely to be from a visible minority community. Before then, Canadian immigrants, for the most part, were white…just like the employers doing the hiring. I have always felt that measuring the economic performance of new immigrants against that of the Canadian population as a whole is simply the wrong test. What we ought to be comparing is how these newer arrivals fare against visible minority Canadians. I’m guessing that the earnings gap will in large part disappear.

We should stop explaining away the discount on immigrants’ wages by reference to their lack of English or French proficiency and foreign education/training. This is nothing more than a red herring. If these reasons were valid then you would expect well educated Canadian-born visible minority males to be earning the same wages as their white counterparts. But as the studies have shown, they are not.

Immigrants to any country have always known that they would have to work harder than the local citizens in order to do well. However, until recent times immigrants to Canada also expected that their children would have the opportunity to succeed economically in a way that would make them indistinguishable from other Canadians. Maybe that’s no longer the case.

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14 Responses to “Comparing Apples to Apples”

  • On June 2nd, 2011, alfresco said ...

    a very thought provoking analysis

  • On June 2nd, 2011, Ziad Haddad said ...

    Perhaps it is well said, yet very pessimistic. “I need” to disagree with some of what has been said – looking at it from far away – otherwise I will loose the enthusiasm for fighting hardly to take my children there!
    Perhaps as quoted at the end it was no longer the case – for the children I mean – yet comparing apple to apple just what is left for children “here” compared to the children of the past? – nothing; relatively speaking – therefore Canada will still be a better place to be in for them, despite the lesser chances of today for them to be indistinguishable there.

  • On June 2nd, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    I have liked your full quality explanation Thanks, I work for the Gvernment of Kenya.

    I will want to move to canada and become a citizen, i have a desire to be there and hope one time shall be given a chance God willing. Be Blessed.

  • On June 3rd, 2011, Kayode Adedayo said ...

    It is expected of a foreigner/immigrant to showcase him or herself that he’s worth a spot in the country he finds himself outside his. Consequently,he must have prepared himself for the new realities ahead.For a country like Canada,its always been peaceful. God bless Canada.

  • On June 3rd, 2011, Okwor Amaka Angela said ...

    My earnest dream and vision is to live and work in Canada with my family and have a good life.

  • On June 3rd, 2011, Kayode Adedayo said ...

    Going through Attorney David Cohen’s biography,i felt a connection.Being a graduate of Literature in English,i’ve always being pessimistic about leaving my African soil.To my amusement,God gave me two lovely kids age 5(girl) and 3(boy) whose ultimate goal is to travel in an aeroplane and live abroad.What better place than Canada!But the immigration procedure…! I will be glad to be assisted.I assure you that,my family is peace loving.

  • On June 6th, 2011, Arun said ...

    The ranking is marvelous for any peace loving person on this earth . In a comparison given the low side of discrimination between born white and other born ethnic group including immigrants , to my money Canada is of course a good place for all peace lovers ; ethnicity is a born human character . God bless Canada

  • On June 9th, 2011, Tunji said ...

    i will opnely say Canada is a dream land to live stay and work for majority which am among.

    The job security is high, good standard of living which clarify and guarantee a wonderful future.

    God bless canada, am coming soon!!!

  • On June 16th, 2011, Zohaib Hussain said ...

    God Bless Canada

  • On June 16th, 2011, vani said ...

    What I would like to say that one day when I wake up I will wake up in Canada.
    God Almighty bless Canada.

  • On June 20th, 2011, Petar Dimov said ...

    God bless Canada!!!
    And you!

  • On July 2nd, 2011, An Indian said ...

    Racism exists in India also.

    One may differentiate between different types of Apples but the fact remains that an Apple remains an Apple, whatever type it may be.

    Hence, a Canadian remains a Canadian whatever Color/ Caste// Creed he may be of. Canada is one of the most peaceful Country in the world.

    What I fail to understand is that as to why the Queen of UK still remains Queen of Canada. It is time that Canada comes out of the Colonial mindset as India has.

    Your agency has been providing clear and transparent information to masses and I hope the best for you!

    Best of luck!!!

  • On August 11th, 2011, Pampam said ...

    I today makes me exactly one year in Canada. Every morning I always end my prayers with God bless the day I decided to migrate to this land of possibilities. It is not an eldorado but but much much better than the 2 previous countries I have lived in. Like a friend will say “Canada is filled with milk and honey but there are also giants to conquer. I love Canada!

  • On August 22nd, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    I heard so much about Canada and all these blogs proved that Canada is really a peaceful and wonderful country to visit and live in… I pray everyday that one day I will wake up that I’m in Canada already. My Background is hospitality and seems not on the list of Skilled Workers, Is there anyway I could live there.

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