Older immigrant workers who have been laid off are falling through the cracks of Canada's employment system, with many of them ending up in temporary jobs with few benefits, finds a study released by Ryerson University's Centre for Labour Management Relations at Ted Rogers School of Management.
"We were interested in finding out how this group of workers has managed since the plant closure five years ago and whether they have found stable work again," says Winnie Ng, Unifor Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy and lead author of the study.
The study documented the experiences of 78 of the 2,400 older racialized workers who lost their jobs after Progressive Moulded Products (PMP), the largest auto-parts manufacturer in the Greater Toronto Area, filed for bankruptcy protection and closed their operations in June 2008. The co-authors of the report are Sedef Arat-Koc, Aparna Sundar, Grace-Edward Galabuzi and Sareh Serajelahi from Ryerson University, and Salmaan Khan of York University. The report’s collaborator is Unifor, previously known as Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW).
"Nearly half of the research participants are now working in temporary jobs with poverty wages and no benefits. Our findings show that they are worse off than when they first came to Canada," says Ng. "The economic crisis has ‘unsettled’ these long-term immigrant workers in a highly competitive and precarious labour market. The systemic barriers of race, gender and age further marginalize this group of workers."
Highlights of the report’s key findings include:
The study outlines 10 key recommendations to improve working and employment conditions for older immigrant workers who experience similar challenges and barriers to finding employment opportunities, including:
"This is an important study that goes beyond the national employment numbers and takes a hard look at the struggles workers face in today’s labour market," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "The PMP workers have showed tremendous courage and resiliency over these past years to retrain and get back on their feet – like so many other displaced, older manufacturing workers in Canada. They’re doing their part, but are still worse off. Government officials and policy-makers should pay close attention to the recommendations provided by these workers – those who are falling through our country’s employment gaps."
The study, An Immigrant All Over Again? Recession, Plant Closures and [Older] Racialized Immigrant Workers, was funded by Ted Rogers School of Management’s Centre for Labour Management Relations.
Winnie Ng, Unifor Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, led a study documenting experiences of some of the older racialized workers who lost their jobs after big auto-parts manufacturer closed down in 2008.