The month of June has been designated as Senior’s Month in Canada, and to honour our older citizens two associates at York University are calling on policymakers to do more for one particular group of seniors – immigrants who arrive in the country after the age of 50.
In a recent article for the Globe and Mail, Ghazy Mujahid and Thomas Klassen argue that immigrant seniors are increasingly isolated due to their lack of language skills and employability. Mujahid is a former United Nations population policy adviser and is now an associate at York University’s Centre for Asian Research. Thomas Klassen is an associated professor at York University working in the Department of Political Science and the School of Public Policy and Administration.
The two note that nearly all of the seniors immigrating to Canada are relatives – either parents or grandparents – of skilled immigrants who were selected based on their education, experience and language skills.
Family class immigrants are not assessed in the same way and, consequently, nearly two-thirds of immigrants who are over the age of 50 when entering Canada speak neither English nor French. They are not only isolated from the majority of society, but often from their own grandchildren, who no longer speak the language of the previous generations.
Most of these immigrants are not able to obtain work in the country, and do not qualify for government assistance, so are forced to rely solely on family members to provide them with financial support. The problem is further acerbated when foreign experience and credentials are not recognized in Canada. A person over the age of 50 is likely little motivated to upgrade their training.
Mujahid and Klassen offer two main suggestions to policymakers to ease the isolation of senior immigrants and to help them integrate themselves better into Canadian society. Firstly, they propose the offering of more language courses, specifically geared to older arrivals. Secondly, they recommend easing the credential recognition process, and shortening upgrading programs so that a newcomer can expect to be working in their field within a few months, rather than a few years.
Source: Globe and Mail