Memorial University News Release
English and French language lessons help new immigrants exit
A recent study of adult newcomers by an assistant professor in the
Department of Sociology at Memorial University indicates that, for new
immigrants experiencing financial difficulty, taking English and/or
French language lessons can help. And for highly educated arrivals,
getting a Canadian education also makes a difference.
Dr. Lisa Kaida’s analysis of the Longitudinal Survey of
Immigrants to Canada data finds 43 per cent of new immigrants aged
25-54 are living in poverty two years after arrival. Surprisingly,
most are highly educated: three-quarters have university degrees or
college diplomas, and more than 70 per cent were admitted under the
economic class (e.g. skilled worker class). Yet their Canadian
language skills are limited; less than 30 per cent speak French (for
Quebec residents) or English (for the rest of Canada) fluently or
This is worrisome news to policy-makers and settlement workers,
but there is hope. Dr. Kaida’s analysis also finds taking English or
French language lessons helps across the board, while obtaining
formal education (e.g. high school, trade school, college,
university) gives a boost to the more highly educated arrivals.
In other words, access to Canadian education and language
training facilitates the integration of new immigrants facing
economic challenges. Therefore, increasing the provision of
information and financial support to immigrants, as well as
expanding education and training programs targeting adult
immigrants, are effective policy options.
The Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada was conducted by
Statistics Canada, targeting immigrants arriving in Canada between
2000 and 2001. A total of 12,000 new immigrants participated about
six months after their arrival. Many of them agreed to be
interviewed again, two and four years later. Dr. Kaida accessed this
data through Memorial University’s Research Data Centre, of which
she is the current academic director.
In Dr. Kaida’s study, whether an immigrant is poor is determined
by the low income cutoff (LICO). The LICO is set at 20 per cent
above the average percentage of family income spent on daily
necessities like food, housing and clothing. Currently, if a family
spends more than 64 per cent of their income on essentials, all
family members are considered poor.
A summary of the study can be found at the Population Change and
Lifecourse Cluster Policy Brief,
Language Training and Education
Help Adult New Immigrants Exit Poverty.
For more information, please contact Dr.
Lisa Kaida, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Memorial University.