December 17, 2008
For the first time, the Philippines has become Canada's largest source country for immigrants and temporary workers combined, signalling an important shift in immigration patterns.
China has been the No. 1 source country for several years; but as its economy soared, it was surpassed by the Philippines, which sent 19,064 immigrants and 15,254 temporary workers to Canada in 2007.
Permanent residents from China, while still the most numerous, decreased by one-third between 2005 and 2007, while immigrants from India, the second-largest group, dropped by 20 per cent in this period. Permanent residents from the Philippines are the third-largest group, and their numbers have more than doubled in the past decade. In 2007, more Filipinos arrived in Canada as temporary workers than any other nationality, except for Americans.
Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies, attributes the increase to Canada's new focus on temporary workers, and the influx of Filipinos who have filled caregiving and service-sector jobs in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.
"Fewer Chinese workers are coming in because of the economic boom there, and we are filling service-sector jobs with Filipinos," said Mr. Jedwab, who analyzed the data, released earlier this month by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Altogether, Canada admitted 236,758 permanent residents last year and 115,470 temporary workers. The latter category has steadily increased in recent years, nearly doubling since 1998. The number of immigrants fluctuates between about 200,000 and 250,000 a year.
Despite their numeric significance, Filipinos have a low profile in Canada. They are primarily focused on sending their salaries to their families back home, said Flordeliz Dandal, executive director of the Kababayan Community Centre in Toronto, a newcomer-settlement group.
"Most Filipinos who come to Canada are really motivated to work and then send their salaries back home," she said. "They don't care about politics, and they don't yet have time to engage in Canadian political life unless they have been here a long time."
The Filipino community is still in transition, Mr. Jedwab agreed, and is focused more on family reunification and economic survival than on building a profile in its adopted homeland.
Most temporary workers from the Philippines are teachers, nurses and caregivers, and two-thirds are women. Last month in the Philippines, 89,000 people took the professional board exam for nursing, many with an eye to obtaining employment overseas, Ms. Dandal said.
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