In our city’s history, immigrants have always played an important role. They build our economic prosperity, diversify our culture, contribute to our social vitality.

Jim Watson
Mayor of Ottawa
OLIP helps to unite and share scarce resources for greater impact by working together in the field of student education.

Walter Piovesan
Associate Director of Education, Ottawa Carleton District School Board
The OLIP Council is committed to leadership.  In only a few years, we have a common vision and priorities, and are up to the task of implementing the Ottawa Immigration Strategy.

Salimatou Diallo
OLIP Council Vice Chair, Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario
All the WOW events that I went to were great – WOW does give a sense of a community trying to improve its attraction and retention!

Caroline Andrew
Professor, University of Ottawa
Canada has been shaped by people who came from all over the world to build this country. WOW offers a platform for us to celebrate this history and the future it will help…

Alex Munter, Chair of the OLIP Council and President and CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre
The work and expertise that OLIP brings to our community is so important as it helps us to build bridges and break down silos.  I look forward to our continued work together. 

Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa
We are very pleased to have done the “Opportunity Cost of Not Investing in Interpretation” report – it is so important to have clarity on these challenges and…

Hindia Mohamoud, Director, OLIP
The WOW seminar on immigrant women’s nutrition and health was a step in the right direction towards closing the gap between academic researchers and service providers.

Josephine Etowa
Associate Professor, School of Nursing, University of Ottawa
The City of Ottawa will continue to play a lead role in the implementation of the Ottawa Immigration Strategy, just as we did in the founding of OLIP.

Steve Desroches
City Councillor and Deputy Mayor of Ottawa
I was happy to see integration to Algonquin territory and indigenous culture related programming in 2014 WOW. Please continue to involve local Aboriginal organisations and…

Linda Manning
WOW 2014 participant, Senior Fellow, University of Ottawa

The Face of Inequity in Employment and Entrepreneurship

March 25, 2021

By Andrea Pierce

COVID 19 has severely impacted the lives of immigrants and racialized Canadians not just in health but in employment and entrepreneurship pushing more people in poverty. COVID-19 job losses were greatest in areas where women were the majority of the work force and the virus significantly increased the burden of unpaid care on women. This has an even greater impact on racialized and immigrant women, as they are more likely to be physical and emotional caretakers, and frontline workers overseeing the well-being of their families and communities. Almost one-third of employed Black Women (31.7%) worked in health care and social assistance in January 2021, and over four-fifths (81.2%) of these were immigrant women as compared to one-fifth (22.9%) of non-visible minority women worked in this industry, according to Statistics Canada. Many of whom are single parents falling below the poverty line. These intersecting identities intensify the disadvantages.

This is not a new problem; it was spotlighted and exacerbated by the pandemic. In 2017, immigrant employment rate was 78.9%, largely attributed to immigrants in the country for more than 10 years versus 84% for Canadian-born. When examined with an intersectional lens by race, African-born immigrants had the lowest employment rate of all immigrant groups, and rates’ differentials were much higher for the African-born in Canada for 5 years or less. The challenge continues even when employed. One in five Canadians indicates racism is an issue at work. The incidence is higher among Black Canadians where the majority (62%) ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that racial discrimination is a problem in their own workforce, as reported in a 2019 Morneau Shepell study.

In a society where more than one-third of the population will come from immigration by 2031, investments must be holistic in addressing the effects of multiple interactive factors to appropriately address the employment challenges faced by immigrants and racialized residents particularly women.

Andrea Pierce, Lead for Equity Ottawa Initiative.

Immigrant and racialized people who often run small businesses also face challenges in accessing finance and access to business networks despite the fact that they have a similar business profile as the typical small businesses in Canada. Without financing, cash flow usually becomes a problem for small businesses, and prevents them from growing. This is troubling considering that immigrant and visible-minority owners are more likely to start firms than non-immigrant and non-visible-minority owners, according to a 2018 Innovation Science and Economic Development report. To grow Canada’s economy especially during these times, we must leverage and support this innate entrepreneurship asset and provide support to grow its impact.

It is also worth mentioning that small businesses represent over 50% of Canada’s GDP and are the lifeblood of the Canadian economy. Of the total 1.23 businesses in Canada, 1.2 million are small businesses,  representing  97.9% of Canada’s businesses, with 8.4 million employees.

We cannot just “build back better”, we must change the systemic barriers that led to disproportionate impact of the pandemic on immigrant and racialized people. One critical change is for all levels of governments and corporations to properly implement supplier diversity and social procurement to be inclusive of immigrant and racialized people. Leveraging social procurements is an economic multi-play, increasing immigrant and racialized business’ economic participation, employment and community wealth building while addressing equity. This is particularly important for Black immigrant women who have experienced the worst effects of the pandemic.

Andrea Pierce is the Lead for Equity Ottawa Initiative at OLIP.