The United Way of Burlington & Greater Hamilton and Community Development Halton sensed that the face of Burlington is changing. Through their partnership, UWBGH and CDH launched a study to look at Burlington’s newcomers by investigating who they are and where they live.
Changing Faces – Profile of Burlington Newcomers documents a shift in the number of immigrants coming to Canada from Europe to non-European countries with over half coming from countries in Asia and South America. The newcomers are also younger. Over two-thirds are below the age of 40 compared to about half of the total population. Low income and higher unemployment rates are also common trends among newcomers. Newcomers had higher unemployment rates than the general population with female newcomers being twice as likely to be unemployed. On average, newcomers earned about 45% less than that of the total population and female newcomers earned less than half of what their peers earned.
Many newcomers are also from visible minority population groups. The latest projections by Statistics Canada show that by 2017, roughly one in five Canadians will be a visible minority. Almost 95% of visible minority persons will live in Canada’s major urban areas.
Given the changing face of the newcomer population in Burlington, and the associated socio-economic trends, we can anticipate a major impact on the need for settlement services, language and cultural translation capacities along with cultural sensitivity and diversity competence training for Burlington organizations. Additionally, a demand for employment opportunities exists and employers are encouraged to tap into the pool of qualified workers with foreign credentials.
Diversity also brings opportunities. Citizens with diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives can provide alternative approaches and solutions to many of our challenges (e.g. environmental, health, education and training). Mechanisms should be put in place to harness the insights and contributions of our new residents. To ensure that newcomers will make a smooth transition into Burlington, government, business and the social service sector have a shared responsibility to provide the resources and supports for them to join us as full members of our community.