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Newcomers who came to Canada in second year of COVID-19 pandemic had better median entry wages than pre-pandemic: Statistics Canada

In a new report updating findings from 2022, a Statistics Canada (StatsCan) report released on January 22 reveals that there are many ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect how new immigrants are integrating when they arrive in Canada.

From the number of new immigrants* who filed taxes in 2021 to the median entry wages of newcomers who arrived in 2020, the recent StatsCan report outlines several key findings related to the economic outcomes of recent immigrants to Canada in 2021 – the second year of the pandemic.

*StatsCan does not seem to distinguish between the word “immigrant” (technically referring to Canadian newcomers who have obtained permanent residence) and the word “newcomer” (also including temporary residents) in its reporting

Record low number of new immigrant tax filers in 2021

According to the 2021 tax filing records of immigrants who came to Canada in 2020, 2021 had the lowest number of new immigrants who filed taxes in Canada among any admission cohort spanning the previous 10 years.

StatsCan reasons that this outcome was “in response to the pandemic’s border restrictions.”

Therefore, for the first time in Canadian history, the majority of tax-filing immigrants among the 2020 admission cohort were individuals who had already lived in Canada (55.5%)*. The remaining 44.5% of tax-filing new immigrants did not have pre-admission experience.

*Among Canada’s 2020 immigrant cohort, the 55.5% of immigrants with pre-admission experience broke down as follows:

  • 22.5% of immigrant tax filers had work and study permits

  • 22.3% had a work permit only

  • 1.9% had a study permit only

  • 8.5% had asylum claims

Rebound and improvement in median entry wages for new immigrants

Analyzing the median entry wages (earned one year after admission) of Canadian immigrants who arrived in 2020, StatsCan uncovered that this cohort had the highest median entry wages of any admission cohort spanning the previous 10 years.

Specifically, StatsCan found that “in [the 2021] tax year, the median entry wage of … 2020 newcomers was $37,700.”

This figure represents a 21.6% increase from the median entry wages of Canadian immigrants who arrived in 2019 ($31,000) and a 13.6% jump compared to the 2018 admission cohort ($33,200).

Further broken down by gender, StatsCan data found that, in 2021, the median entry wage of women newcomers “remained lower than that of their [male] counterparts by a large margin.” This is even though, compared to the 2019 admission cohort, “the median entry wage for women admitted in 2020 had a larger increase than” male newcomers to Canada from the same years.

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