I often hear positive references to the “good old days” as individuals reflect on how much better things were in the past, and yet, as a visible minority female immigrant, I cannot help but consider how much worse my experience would have been in the “good old days” given the strides that have been made with anti-oppressive practice approaches.
The following report from Statistics Canada was the most recent available online:
According to this:
- As of 2006, the vast majority (91%) of visible minority women reported that they could speak at least one of Canada’s official languages, while 26% of visible minority women aged 15 and over reported having a university degree, and 35% among visible minority women aged 25-54, while 23% of non-visible minority women of core working age held a university degree; despite this, the 68.6% employment rate for visible minority women of core working age (25-54) was almost 10% lower than for their non-visible minority counterparts (78.0%), and the employment gap between visible minority women (68.6%) and men (83.0%) of core working age was 14.4%; when immigrant status was taken into account, Canadian-born visible minority women were more likely to be employed than their immigrant counterparts as they had an employment rate of 79.7%, which was 11.8% higher than that for immigrant visible minority women of the core working age (67.9%)
- As of 2006, 8.4% of the visible minority women aged 25-54 were in the labour force but unemployed compared with 5.0% of non-visible minority women, while the unemployment rate of visible minority women (8.4%) was higher than that of visible minority men (6.2%), and there was a bigger gender gap in unemployment between visible minority women and men(2.2%) than between non-visible minority women and men (0.1%); visible minority women of core working age reported median employment income in 2005 of $23,300, compared to $28,900 for non-visible minority women, while visible minority women of core working age who worked full-time, full-year in 2005 earned about $34,000, roughly $4,000 less than non-visible minority women; median full-time, full-year employment income of visible minority women aged 25-54 was close to $7,000 less than that of visible minority men, whose median earnings were $40,800, i.e . about 83% of male earnings
- According to the 2009 General Social Survey (GSS), visible minorities reported experiencing more discrimination than non-visible minorities, as 25% of visible minorities in Canada reported unfair treatment during the 5 years prior while 13% of non-visible minority people reported this; the most common reasons given were ethnicity or culture, race or colour, and language
These statistics reflect the uneven playing field that visible minority immigrant women like myself faced in Canada as of a few years ago, so I can only imagine how much worse the experience would have been in the “good old days”. As an individual whose gender, race, and ethnicity represent factors that are likely to multiply against me to negatively affect my opportunities and outcomes, I choose to look away from the good, old days of someone else’s past and instead forward to the future with hope, as anti-oppressive practice approaches shed light on how the social work profession can endeavour to address these societal imbalances.
Written by Krystal Jagoo, MSW, RSW