Despite Canada's Refugee Claims Sponsorship Program, Some Still Struggle to Find Work after Their First Year
Refugees who resettle in Canada often want to work hard to give back to their communities. But in the first few years of life in Canada, it's not uncommon for some refugees to rely on social assistance. Regardless of their country of origin, refugees face many barriers to securing employment and attaining financial security.
Both government-sponsored and private-sponsored refugees receive financial assistance during their first year in Canada. While this may help with the resettlement process, many wind up stuck without a job. However, newcomers with privately-sponsored refugee claims tend to do better overall finding employment, compared to government-sponsored refugees.
Barriers to Work
According to a CBC News article, some refugees from Syria and other conflict-ridden countries are forced to turn to provincial social assistance since they cannot find work in Canada. They face barriers to finding work, sometimes lacking English-language skills or recognized education, skills, and training. Canada often does not recognize work experience and education credentials from foreign countries. As a result, many refugees go back to school, take exams, or work menial, low-paying jobs, which usually can only be done if they speak English.
Privately-sponsored refugees may have more success with employment because of the social support of their sponsors and a larger network to help them find work. But others lack access to employment support resources that could truly benefit their resettlement and quality of life.
For refugees with careers in their country of origin, relying on social assistance is causing them emotional distress. They experience a sense of failure and embarrassment for turning to the government for help. They're grateful to their sponsors, want to give back to the community, and continue to make efforts to do so.
Canada’s lack of affordable housing also affects refugee families. As with many low-income families in Canada, the provincial social assistance they receive is barely enough to get by. And to live in an affordable home often means living in a space that is too small for a family.
Canada needs to create more affordable housing, offer better employment resources, and recognize skills and education from other countries if it wants to truly help refugees resettle. While many refugees are grateful for Canada and their sponsors, the lack of career opportunities can be demeaning. A career built on hard work that goes unrecognized in their new home country is hard enough. Relying on government social assistance simply adds further difficulty and frustration.