One third of Toronto homeless are immigrants, most of them women from the Caribbean
Please see below a Toronto Star summary of a new article to appear in the November issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
I have not yet read the study but the view of Aseefa Sarang cited in the Star article rings true in explaining the high incidence of homelesness for recent immigrants. She says that many newcomers live in poverty because they fail to get their credentials recognized and are underemployed in Canada. Sarang is executive director of Toronto's Across Boundaries, an ethnocultural specific mental health agency.
To make the link between recent immigrants and the high skills they bring, lack of recognition of international credentials and experience, and mental illness: though internationally trained workers arrive in Canada healthy, they are rendered ill through the trials of sacrificing to come to Canada, meeting with employers unwilling to accept their professional portfolios, and unmet expectations around immigrating to Canada.
In turn, with a weakened morale, people fall into low paying jobs, poverty, and homelessness. It is alarming that so many of the homeless recent immigrants are women with children. This suggests that female skilled immigrants face relatively more discrimination in the job market.
Since 2006, I believe that government has shown in practical terms its solution to the increasing poverty of recent immigrants. It has aligned immigration with the market by favouring the entry of internationally trained workers with job contract in hand, on temporary work permits. Also, the Conservative government in particular has increasingly funded Canadian colleges to offer courses and credential assessment abroad, to assure that credential recognition issues are resolved before internationally trained workers enter Canada.
This approach does little for internationally trained workers already in Canada, who do not lack training, but rather the chance to prove themselves at work. Their needs for internships or bridging programs are virtually ignored, as are the training needs of youth, first peoples, and the working poor already in Canada.
One-third of homeless in city are immigrants
Report says many fall through cracks due to shortage of jobs and housing
Nicholas Keung, Immigration Reporter, Toronto Star, Tue Oct 20 2009
More than a third of Toronto's homeless are immigrants, many falling through the cracks due to a lack of jobs and housing, says a new study, the first in Canada to look at immigration status and homelessness.
The study, led by St. Michael's Hospital, surveyed 1,189 individuals in shelters and on meal programs across the city and found that 32 per cent were immigrants; some 10 per cent had been here less than a decade. The numbers did not include refugees, undocumented migrants or those who did not speak English.
A majority of Canadian-born homeless people in the study had high school education or less, but many homeless immigrants have vocational training, college or university education, said the article, "The Health of Homeless Immigrants," published in the November issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
"Immigrants who are homeless are very different in many ways from others who became homeless," said study co-author Dr. Stephen Hwang of St. Michael's Hospital, an associate professor at the University of Toronto.
"The prevalence of alcohol and drug problems was dramatically lower among homeless immigrants. Yet, I'm somewhat surprised by the high prevalence of mental health issues among them."
The study was representative of the 5,000 individuals who are homeless in the city each night and the 29,000 individuals who use shelters over the course of a year.
The average age of the homeless was 28 for recent immigrants, 39.7 for those who have been here more than 10 years and 36.2 for native-born Canadians. Homeless immigrants were more likely to be female, visible minorities, accompanied by dependent children and married.
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Among the homeless immigrants:
1. Regions of birth:
Central and South America: 47
Caribbean and Bermuda: 114
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