Immigrants' Economic Integration: Successes and Challenges: A Profile of Immigrants in Ottawa Based on the 2006 Census

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Org: Social Planning Council of Ottawa
Date: 2009

This report highlights the importance of the immigrant population for the economic growth of the City of Ottawa and discusses the challenges immigrants face in achieving social and economic integration. This report is the third in a series of reports from the Social Planning Council based on the 2006 Census. The first report, This is Who We Are: A Social Profile of Ottawa Based on the 2006 Census, launched in November 2008, provided the framework and benchmarks used in this thematic report.

This report is part of a body of work at the Social Planning Council focusing on exclusion and inclusion. It builds on previous work by the Social Planning Council3, particularly the project “Communities Within: Exclusion and Inclusion of Visible and Ethnic Minority Residents in Ottawa” (2008) which clarified that economic exclusion for immigrants on the one hand, and visible minority citizens on the other, is multi-faceted.

The report presents a social and economic portrait of the immigrant population as reflected in the 2006 census data. It is divided in five thematic areas:

  • Population Growth;
  • Diversity;
  • Makeup of the Immigrant Population;
  • Labour Market Integration;
  • Incomes, Poverty and Housing Affordability.

The first thematic area shows the importance of the immigrant population in Ottawa’s population growth. The second highlights the diversity of cultures and languages in the City as a result of immigration. The third addresses the composition of Ottawa’s population by immigrant status, focusing on three main groups: children and youth, seniors and working population. The fourth thematic area, analyzes immigrants’ labour market integration as measured by their participation and unemployment rates, occupations, work hours and earnings. The fifth looks at immigrants’ incomes and the incidence of low income for individuals, families, households, children and seniors.

This report provides limited information with respect to Francophone immigrants. The authors do not currently have access to the custom data required to properly profile Francophone immigrants. However, they will be publishing a report in the future on Francophones and Francophone Immigrants, based on a future custom data purchase.

Some Quick Facts

  • A significant percentage of recent immigrants age 25-64 are in the younger (entry) working ages (42.6%, compared to 23.9% for the general population). Their families tend to have more children on average.
  • With almost 40% of recent immigrants (2001-06) reporting knowledge of French only, there is also an increasing importance of French-speaking immigrants in the growth and cultural diversity of the francophone community in Ottawa.
  • Ottawa had a net loss of 1,650 immigrants to secondary migration within Canada.
  • Immigrant children and youth, particularly recent immigrants, are a significant and growing portion of Ottawa’s total population of children and youth (11%). 57.3% of recent immigrant children and youth were aged 14 or younger. 63.2% of visible minority immigrants aged 0 to 24 were in the older age group, specifically 15 – 24.
  • Ottawa’s senior population is rapidly becoming more diverse. In 2006, 30.9% of the City’s senior population were immigrants. Immigrant seniors are more likely to experience economic and social exclusion.
  • Despite this economic success and educational attainment, there is a very significant level of economic exclusion for immigrants.
  • Immigrant women are at a relative disadvantage in the labour market. Despite higher levels of education, they are over-represented in traditional female occupations, precarious part-time jobs and in the lowest median employment income ranges.


Economic exclusion for immigrants on the one hand, and visible minority citizens on the other, is multi-faceted. The report points to five primary factors affecting the economic status of immigrants, as follows:

  • Labour market barriers experienced by first-generation immigrants
  • Labour market barriers experienced by ethnic minority residents
  • The nature of Ottawa’s economy and labour market
  • The demographic and family structures of immigrant communities

Racialization of economic exclusion in Ottawa

Despite the economic importance of its immigrant population, Ottawa continues to lose immigrants as a result of social and economic barriers. In addition to the problem of Ottawa attracting the number of immigrants we need, there is a further problem in keeping those who have come to Ottawa. As well, despite some economic success, there is a very significant level of economic exclusion for immigrants, as highlighted by the lower average incomes, lower employment incomes, higher rates of poverty and higher rates of unemployment.

The report makes a number of recommendations in the following categories:

  • Increase Support to Families
  • Access to Services
  • Official Language Training
  • Labour market integration
  • Income Security
  • Increase Support for Existing Immigrant Community Infrastructure