Why is there so much negative feedback towards the Canadian job market after getting PR?
I have dealt with this issue to some extent in other Answers. Perhaps I could summarize a little bit and add on.
Employment Never Has Been Good in Canada
Never. I am sixty-six now, so I can say it with some historic confidence.
I remember it from TV when I was a small child in the 1950's. The federal government used to have advertisements to encourage “winter works” projects. The construction industry would slow down so much in the severe winters that there would be great amounts of seasonal unemployment. It still does, but the federal government nowadays tend to approach the situation with extended unemployment benefits. Canada is far more urbanized than it was in the 1950's. (Over 80% of Canada's population lives in cities.) Since construction workers now mostly live in cities, there is more that they might be able to do in the winter, particularly home repairs and renovations, which are a big industry here. Also, cities means a lot of taller office buildings, and construction on them does not stop in the winter.
I struggle to think of any time in my life when Canada has had a “full employment” situation, particularly for well-paid, highly-skilled, professional (that is, white collar) jobs. In fact, although I pay some attention to this sort of thing, I can't think of any. If anything, outside of the severe economic recessions that happen every so often in Canada, the skilled trades tend to have better employment situations.
Canada's economy can be quite misleading. Canada is a prosperous country, but a substantial part of the prosperity comes from selling raw resources to American and overseas markets. This type of economic activity generates a lot of foreign exchange money but relatively little in the way of jobs. An immigrant, seeing the good, relatively well-developed state of Canada's infrastructure, might think that it must be based on manufacturing and a successful international trade in manufactured goods. However, it is not Japan, Germany or Taiwan here. Canada is quite different.
Service Industry Canada
About 80% of Canada's total economic output comes from the service industries. Those industries dominate the economy. Part of the reason for such high service industry dominance is that so many manufacturing jobs have been lost from Canada. There was a continuous leaking of such jobs from Canada for years, even before the 1995 NAFTA agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico. Countries in the developing world could manufacture routine items much more cheaply, because of their low wage levels. The NAFTA agreement opened up Canadian manufacturing to low-wage competitors in Mexico. The damage to the automobile industry, in particular, was quite significant.
Canada's domestic market for goods is still rather small and geographically quite dispersed. This means that Canadian manufacturing and agriculture have to rely on highly-competitive international markets. Access to them can be very quickly cut off by trade disputes. I do not believe that Canada will ever have a large, unionized, well-waged manufacturing sector, as a large part of its total economy, ever again.
Statistics can not infrequently mask harsh realities. The category of “service industries” can include everything from being a highly paid professional consultant, to being a server in a food court. A lot of the service jobs are just that. Canada's transition to a service industry economy means that a large part of all jobs will be menial and poorly paid.
Canada, The Branch Plant
Many of Canada's largest employers are subsidiaries of foreign companies. We sometimes call this the “branch plant” economy. This is not generally a situation that serves well-paid employment in Canada. The head office senior executives are in another country. If the company is one that does significant amounts of research, they will most likely do it in their home country. Those jobs are not here in Canada.
Why Don't Things Look Worse?
I can understand how a prospective, or recent, immigrant could look at my comments and say, why don't living conditions in Canada look worse? With so many poorly-paid jobs as a total of the whole economy, where are the slums? Where are the riots?
Canada has a fairly complete “social safety net”. There is subsidized housing, although not as much as there should be. There is no charge for doctors or hospital services. Education is free up until the end of high school and subsidized thereafter. There is the compulsory Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Pension, with a subsidy for low-income retirees. The federal employment insurance system is mandatory, and employers pay part of the premiums. Welfare payments are low, but, if you have even a modest job, it is possible to piece together a more or less adequate life. I believe that this is the basis of much of the social peace in Canada. (Restricted access to handguns also helps.)
I have said it before, not infrequently, an immigrant family, with modest expectations, is more content in Canada than highly-educated people with high expectations. Particularly if the modest family comes from a poor and violent country, they may see their life in Canada as quite adequate. If the family is a two parent one, and all the children are old enough to be in school, both parents can work and bring in an income. Primary and secondary education is generally of adequate quality, so the parents will have a certain peace of mind. The family ends up with an adequate, safe life, perhaps in an apartment or a subsidized townhouse. Almost always, this in a city with a good enough infrastructure, good hospitals, adequate roads, tidy, well-kept residential areas (City bylaw officers enforce it.), safe water, reliable electricity, access to various places of worship, ethnic food stores, etc. Also Canada has strong anti-discrimination and political correctness laws. Because the primary and secondary education is good enough, the children of the family have a good chance of qualifying for university or a reputable, government run, technical school, and, maybe a better working life. Why would that modest family not be very happy?
Express Entry Is No Guarantee Of Anything At All
I have seen various comments in Quora, and elsewhere, that show that some skilled immigrants to Canada feel a sense of betrayal. Since they were invited to apply, they feel there is a promise of a good life at the other end. This is not at all what Express Entry is.
Canada's immigration system does not come close to be a job matching service. The whole Canadian immigration system is run on the basis of annual immigration levels. Canada has had a level of about 275,000 to 300,000 the last few years.
What happens in practise is that the annual level is broken out into immigration categories, particularly skilled immigrant, family class and refugees. Then it is the responsibility of the immigration processing system to go out and get them. The bureaucrats of the processing system are not permitted, say a few months into the year, to approach the Cabinet Minister responsible for immigration and say, “Well, there do not seem to be enough skilled worker immigrants out there who have really good skills and experience, to get the jobs in Canada that have high worker demand. May we please be allowed be allowed to cut this year's level?”. The annual level is a commitment made by that Minister to the Canadian federal Parliament, a few months before the start of the year in question. The Minister will not agree to change it. This results in all categories being fixed in size, with only modest exchanges allowed.
The Express Entry programme does not assess individual excellence. It is “marking on a curve”. Out of any group of applications that are submitted in a given number of months, the highest scoring ones are invited to apply. And, that is all. It is no guarantee of any job. The philosophy is, “If you wish to apply and you score more than others, maybe you will get a permanent resident visa. And then, you are on your own. It is for the individual applicant to determine whether there is any likelihood of a good job, and where, in Canada's very large geographical space, it might be.”And, this is not discrimination against immigrants. Canadian-born people are not guaranteed a job either.
Look Around, And See The Immigrants Who Are Doing Well
A walk around the downtown of any major Canadian city, and even some of its suburbs, will show you immigrants who are doing just fine. But, they are not necessarily the people who you expect, or people who are very highly-regarded in your home country. What you will see is a lot of are self-employed, immigrant, small and not so small business people. May I offer you an example:
Ottawa people eat a lot of shawarma. This has worked very well for the Shawarma King. They have built their way up. So many immigrant-run businesses do the same. Walk around downtown Ottawa and the inner suburbs and you will see it, ethnic restaurants and restaurants that serve routine Canadian, hamburger and fries type of food, nail parlours, beauty parlours, clothing stores, dry cleaners, corner convenience stores, supermarkets, small retailers of various sorts, pharmacists who, are not employees, but have a franchise. There are very many of these.
Then there are the medical clinics. While Canada has a socialized medical insurance system, doctors are self-employed and sometimes work together in clinics. It is the same for dental clinics. Many of the professionals there are immigrants.
So, so often, nowadays in Canada, the way to decent money, for Canadian-born people too, is self-employment, even in service industries that seem modest. In fact, with the limited number of non-government, employee jobs, it is sometimes the only way.
Canada Is What It Is
Canada is not a mini USA. It is not the United Kingdom without as much entrenched bigotry. Canada has a particular kind of economy. Of all the nations, maybe Australia is the most similar. I have not been there so I cannot say with much confidence.
There is certainly unfair treatment of skilled immigrants here. I have commented before on the “Canadian experience” requirement. Some times it is justified but sometimes not. However, I don't think Canadian human rights legislation can ever be extended to cover this problem. Each case is different. Sometimes it is simply a matter of opinion whether Canadian experience is important.
Canada can actually be a rough place for anyone to find a good, skilled, well-paid, employee-type, job. The manufacturing and research base is too limited, and the internal market too small. Canadian-born people have the same problem.
I cannot emphasize enough. Canada can be a wasteland for certain types of skilled jobs. Any prospective immigrant should be very careful to determine what is available, as an employee, in their field. Self-employment is sometimes the only real alternative to obtaining a good income. If you feel set on being a well-waged, skilled employee, please be careful!
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