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Immigrants Deprofessionalized in Canada

Updated on August 21, 2013

High Education - Low Paying jobs.

Filipino Immigrants Deprofessionalized in Canada.

By Edwin C. Mercurio

(, Canada – Despite having a high level of education, majority of Filipino immigrants end up in lower-paying jobs compared to other immigrants. This was a conclusion of the research study on Filipinos in Canada featured at a workshop on Filipino migration and settlement during the 10th International Metropolis Conference held at the Metro Toronto Convention Center.

The study titled, "The Deprofessionalized Filipino: Explaining Subordinate Labour Market Roles in Toronto", was based on the Community Alliance for Social Justice (CASJ) community survey and research. CASJ is a community-based organization.

It revealed that many Filipino immigrants in Canada experience deprofessionalization, de-skilling and occupational segmentation resulting in high education-low income disparity.

The Canada's 2001 statistics showed that 57 percent of Filipino immigrants had some university-level education compared to 35 percent for all Canadians.

On the average, Filipinos in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and suburbs earn less than other visible minority immigrants as a whole. The CASJ study explored the causes of such deprofessionalization in the Filipino community using survey and focus group methods.

"The main cause identified in the survey and focus groups was the systemic non-recognition of Philippine earned education and experience. As a consequence of this systemic barrier, Filipinos are forced to take on survival jobs to support themselves and their families and to meet financial obligations such as debts incurred due to high cost of immigration."

The survey also disclosed that 53 percent of the more than 420 respondents cited non-recognition of Philippine credentials and professional licenses as a factor preventing them from practicing their profession.

Canadian regulatory bodies that make accreditation and licensing decisions were roundly criticized by focus group participants "for their ignorance of Filipino institutions and qualifications, arbitrariness in application of standards, high cost of enrolment in upgrading courses and the failure to recognize even third country experience, including those gained in the U.S."

As a consequence of this, "many Filipino professionals thus end up in jobs far below their educational qualifications and skills, training and experience."

At least half of the survey respondents wrote that they were "overqualified" in their current jobs.

However, the popularly bandied myth that only newcomers in Canada find difficulty practicing their trades and professions has been shattered as survey respondents revealed that the systemic barriers apply to both old and newcomers alike.

Focus groups were held with engineers, accountants, and nurses and with groups of mixed professionals, both regulated and unregulated. Among those who said they were "over-qualified" in their present jobs, 53 percent arrived in Canada after 1990 while 41 percent arrived prior to 1990.

Another cause of the deprofessionalization of Filipinos revealed in the CASJ study was subtle racial discrimination. "The main basis for work-related discrimination or unfair treatment was race/color (63%). Other leading factors cited were accent, culture, ethnicity, gender and religion."

The article noted that in focus groups, "an outstanding criticism was directed against Canada's immigration policy and the practice of bringing in the best and the brightest immigrants from the Philippines and other countries through their strict point system. Majority of these immigrants, however, are not absorbed in jobs commensurate to their education and training resulting in immigrants ending up as a source of high quality cheap labor."


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  • profile image

    francis5k 5 years ago

    I'm glad to read you're article! goodjob!

  • MercuryNewsOnline profile image

    MercuryNewsOnline 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    If you have already brought your complaints in writing to the management and no action has been taken you have made the right decision to bring these complaints to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The OHRC already advised you to file your complaints to the tribunal which means that they understood you have a claim.

    You asked for help in this matter and I would advise you to go and avail of the free legal consultation at the Law Help Ontario which is located at the main floor of 393 University Ave., Toronto. You may also find support from various Filipino organizations once I get the relevant facts and data. I would like to meet your group personally to document your concerns and get a total view of the whole matter.

    You can send me your contact info by email: Once I get this information I will contact you diectly.

    Thanks for sharing, Norman

  • profile image

    norman 7 years ago

    Thank you for your response, we right now is seeking about filipino organization that will assist us or helping us regarding our complain because the management is tolerating discrimination and no action about the supervisor who discriminates us. We or most of us are filipino and we want to restore our image and dignity as Filipino and we are not lazy people. The Human Rights of Ontario advise us to file a case in the Tribunal so that action will be taken. Can you help us about this matter or refer us to any filipino community> thanks

  • MercuryNewsOnline profile image

    MercuryNewsOnline 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    I commend you for your observation, Norman. It is true that many immigrants facing systemic barriers and discrimination accept any kind of job that comes along the way. When I was new in Canada I tried to test the waters and applied for a "Help Wanted Dishwasher" job in downtown Toronto. To my absolute surprise the owner asked me if I have "Canadian Experience". Of course being a newcomer I did not expect I need "Canadian Experience" to wash dishes here in Canada. I am glad I was not accepted for the job. If I did, you could still see me washing the dishes in downtown Toronto.

  • profile image

    Norman 7 years ago

    You are right in your article but most filipinos are accepting or goes to any kinds of jobs to survive and when they get upgraded in their educations, its the time they goes to the job they wanted to....Just like us we, most of us are filipino working in the restaurant and we experience too a discrimination after our hardwork for all the days that saying, " Filipino are lazy".

  • MercuryNewsOnline profile image

    MercuryNewsOnline 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Thanks Lynda. I have heard similar complaints from immigrants coming from various countries. I sincerely hope many immigrants will continue to voice out their concerns to the proper institutions and various levels of the Canadian Government. Hopefully, one day we may find some solutions thru our collective voices and actions.

  • lmmartin profile image

    lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

    We hear the same complaints from immigrants from Eastern Europe and South America -- not just those from the Philippines. Interesting language -- deprofessionalized and deskilled. Amazing what we've done to our language, isn't it? Interesting article, Mercury and food for thought. Lynda