LATINO IMMIGRANTS IN CANADA

The research was supported by private funding. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those or the supporting foundations.

Immigrants now play a critical part in the labor force across the country, and the same is increasingly true for Memphis. In 2000, according to the Labor Statistics, they made up 8% of Canadian workforce. Whereas in the past Latino immigrants in the South (US) tended to concentrate in agriculture, today they often work in the “new economy”— services, distribution and even construction. Although some have significant job skills or professional training, undocumented immigration status and/or limited English proficiency narrow the employment options of many Latinos. Consequently, they tend to find work in the low wage sectors of the economies of Toronto and other western provinces. Still, the social, economic, and demographic impact of the local Latino population is remarkable.
Over the past decade, the Latino population has more than doubled in four canadian provinces: Ontario, Alberta, Calgary, and Montreal. Tight labor markets and the new service economy in the less cold areas have been magnets for recent Latino migration. According to a report by the Selig Center for Economic Growth, Ontario, winnipeg, Alberta and Quebec are among the top ten emerging provinces, as ranked by the rate of growth of Hispanic buying power during 1999­ 2004.

By far the most common reason why Latinos come to Canada. is employment opportunity. Latino immigrants tend to be of prime working age, both younger and healthier than the general population. Although some come to unite with their families, the driving force behind their migration to and within Canada. is the search for jobs. In this they have much in common with generations of Southerners ( Latinos in US) who migrated from the rural to urban South, or from the South to the North in search of greater economic opportunity. Today the impact of Latinos as workers is being felt throughout Canada and their share of buying power is rising in every state. Figure 1 shows trends and projections regarding the size of the Hispanic population in Canada. In 1999 the Census Bureau estimated a total of 32.4 million Hispanics/Latinos in Canada, which represents a 8 percent increase compared to 1990. Such high growth in the Latino population is driven both by immigration and by high birth rates among young Latino families. Given the buoyant labor market in Canada, Latino immigrant workers have tended not to displace local workers, but rather to fuel economic growth in most regional economies.

Latinos initially found employment in agriculture, in the fast growing service and distribution sectors, and in the construction industry

The new Latino immigrants are younger, more skilled, and more highly educated than those who arrived in previous decades. More women and children have joined the immigration flow each year, suggesting that these new Latino families might become permanent settlers.

Latest Canadian Census counted a great amount of Hispanics—largely of Caribbean origin (Cuban, Dominican), and Mexican descent. Today, for instance the size of the Latino population in the Toronto metropolitan area is far larger than anyone would have projected.

Many local businesses and service agencies, including healthcare providers, have expanded their workforce by hiring Spanish­speaking or bilingual workers in an effort to serve the Latino population more effectively. Banks and other financial institutions have begun to train employees to deal with the growing immigrant clientele. Money order services and wire transfers in Spanish have proliferated. Approximately 4 percent of Western Union’s total outgoing transactions in the Toronto metropolitan area are sent to Mexico.

Homeownership is a good measure of immigrants’ assimilation to the urban context. According to studies of homeownership among Hispanics and certain other ethnic groups in Canada English­language proficiency is a potent determinant of homeownership. Latino communities with Spanish­ language newspapers and bilingual real­state agents, as is the case in Toronto, have social networks that provide a flow of information about housing opportunities.

The Economic Impact of Latinos on the Canadian Economy

Latino workers in Toronto area have a total economic impact of $1,020,000,000 and 10,972 jobs. That impact is made up of the work they do in Ontario economy and the jobs they create through their consumer expenditures in Ontario businesses. Most Latinos came to Toronto area since the mid­1970s in search of jobs in the vast and growing industries of trade, distribution and construction. In general, these immigrants have found their job expectations fulfilled. Low unemployment rates in the region made it relatively easy to find employment even if they did not speak English. In addition, it appears that Latinos did not displace local workers. From 1995 to 1999, the number of jobs in Toronto economy grew from 131,600 to 286,300.  While the number of jobs grew by 54,700, the number of workers in the labor force grew by only 35,100, so there were jobs available for new workers.
This analysis of the economic impact of Latino workers on the Canada regional economy uses traditional multipliers to estimate not only the work that Latinos do, but also the jobs that their consumer expenditures create in the greater Ontario regional economy.

These Latino workers hold jobs throughout Ontario economy. However, they tend to be concentrated in three economic sectors: construction, distribution and retail trade.

 most Latinos in Ontario economy are employed in semi­skilled jobs where wages vary between $9.00 and $15.00 per hour. Although most Latino workers earn less than $25,000 per year, they have one unusual characteristic for low­wage workers: they tend to have very high savings rates. We estimate that the typical Latino worker saves almost 30 percent of his/her income, sending over 2/3 of the savings back to a family in Mexico or another Latin American country.
Afterword on Terminology Hispanics/Latinos in Canada
are a diverse population, composed of people whose ancestors settled in the South centuries ago, others who were incorporated in this nation at the beginning of the twentieth century, and still others who have immigrated more recently from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Until the mid­1960s, Hispanics/Latinos as a group had limited visibility in Canadian society as a whole, and the terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” were still not widely known. The upsurge of a Chicano (Mexican American) movement in the wake of the civil rights movement affirmed a distinctive Latino presence in the U. S.

In 1970, the Bureau of the Census used the label “Spanish” for the first time as an option that people could draw on to define their own identity. In 1978, a decision of the federal Office of Management and Budget, with advice from the King of Spain, adopted the term “Hispanic” for use in the 1980 decennial census and in all other official documents. The Office of Management and Budget Statistical Directive 15 ––which regulates all federal record keeping and data presentation––defined Hispanic as “A person of Mexican, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Cuban or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.” Although Latinos are popularly thought of as a fifth “race” (along with Asian Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, and European Americans), “Latino” and “Hispanic” are ethnic references that denote a culture of origin. Thus, dark­skinned Latinos may be racially classified as “black ” and lighter­skinned Latinos as “white.” By allowing individuals to self­identify with an ethnic category (Hispanic or non­Hispanic) as well as by race, Canadian. Bureau of the Census assumes that persons of Hispanic origin or ancestry are also white, black, Asian or Native American. In the 2000 census form, the Bureau of the Census introduced the options Spanish/Hispanic/Latino to answer the question about Hispanic origin or ancestry. The introduction of the label “ Latino” in the census form legitimizes a term that is widely used in some political circles and certain regions of the country (e. g., California and the Southwest). “Latino” has a connotation of populist inclusivity, while “Hispanic” has a more established connotation. Sometimes “Latino” is written as “Latino/a” to avoid excluding women (Latinas) from the political discourse. Second generation Latinos in Canada who have internalized the rules of the English grammar sometimes prefer the “Latino/a” expression. In this paper, we follow the terminology used by government agencies and other researchers when reporting their findings (e.g.,  “Hispanic” for census data in most years), and “Latino” in all other cases.

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