Private Sponsorship for Refugees Pays Off in Canada's Job Market

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New refugees to Canada are more successful breaking into the job market when sponsored by private community groups rather than by the government, a finding that takes on added importance as the nation welcomes tens of thousands of Syrian migrants.

Refugees sponsored for a year by a community organization like a church or a group of private individuals earned C$18,300 (U.S. $13,939) in the 2014 tax year compared with C$13,300 for those who had government support, based on the median estimate of arrivals over the prior five years, according to Statistics Canada data. People who fled to Canada without sponsorship earned C$22,000. The agency doesn't normally provide an analysis of the data it releases.

The review of tax filings by the federal statistics agency published Monday from Ottawa showed the highest earners of all immigrants were those who came to Canada for work and were later given permanent resident status. The median earnings in that category were C$50,000.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party won power about a year ago in part on a pledge to boost immigration from Syria. Since then he has rejected a recommendation by a council of economic advisers to boost annual immigration levels (from all origins) to 450,000, saying the policy has to be ambitious but also "responsible."

Almost 36,400 Syrian refugees have come to Canada since November 2015, with the majority being the 19,300 sponsored by the government, according to a government tally through Dec. 4.

Canada's government assists some refugees referred by the United Nations. Groups of five adults and other community organizations are also allowed to seek permission to bring people to Canada.

The U.S. has considered adopting Canada's private sponsorship model, while currently supporting refugees through federally contracted resettlement agencies that help the newly arrived integrate in the local economy with an early financial boost and other assistance. The U.S. admitted 85,000 refugees in fiscal 2016, including about 12,600 from Syria. Nations such as Germany and Turkey have called on others to take in more people displaced by Syria's five-year civil war.

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