16 per cent of immigrants speak a language other than English or French at work
The use of languages other than English or French at work hurts immigrant workers' earnings, according to two articles from Statistics Canada.
"Immigrants in Canada who work in a language other than English or French" and "The impact of working in a non-official language on the occupations and earnings of immigrants in Canada," published in the January 2009 issue of Canadian Social Trends, used data from both the census in 2001 and 2006. They found 16 per cent of immigrant workers spoke something other than one of Canada's two official languages in 2006, unchanged from five years earlier.
Those immigrants who used non-official languages at work earned, on average, $11,000 less per year in 2005 than those who did not, according to the 2006 census. They were also less able to convert their educational qualifications into higher earnings.
Generally immigrants who used a non-official language at work were more likely to be members of low-income households (22 per cent compared to 12 per cent) and more likely to work in low-skilled jobs.
While the proportion of immigrants speaking a non-official language at work remained unchanged from 2001 to 2006, the number of immigrants in the labour force increased from 3.3 million to 3.8 million.
Of the 611,400 immigrants who spoke a language other than English or French at work in 2006, about 17 per cent only spoke a non-official language at work, 26 per cent used a non-official language most of the time but also used an official language and 57 per cent used a non-official language on a regular basis but used an official language most of the time.
Immigrants who used a non-official language at work generally had less formal education than those who did not, with almost one-half only having a high school diploma or less, compared to one third for those who made no use of non-official languages.
Immigrants who arrived at older ages, particularly after the age of 50, were more likely to use a non-official language at work. Only 12 per cent of immigrants 15 to 24 years old used a non-official language at work compared to 18 per cent of immigrants over the age of 65.
"Immigrants in Canada who work in a language other than English or French" also stated the proportion of immigrants who use a non-official language at work decreases with the length of residence in Canada.