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Colour code keeps workers out of good jobs: study

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

(March 21, 2011) – Despite an increasingly diverse population, a new report on Canada’s racialized income gap shows a colour code is still at work in Canada’s labour market.

Canada’s Colour Coded Labour Market, co-produced by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and the Wellesley Institute, draws on 2006 Census data to compare work and income trends among racialized and non-racialized Canadians. It’s among the more comprehensive post-Census studies on this issue to date.

“We found that during the heyday of Canada’s pre-recession economic boom, racialized Canadians were more willing to work, but experienced higher levels of unemployment and earned less income than non-racialized Canadians,” says co-author Grace-Edward Galabuzi, CCPA board member and Ryerson University professor. “The distribution of work tells a disturbing story: Equal access to opportunity eludes many racialized Canadians.”

Co-author Sheila Block, Director of Economic Analysis at the Wellesley Institute, says racialized Canadian workers earned only 81.4 cents for every dollar paid to non-racialized Canadian workers – reflecting barriers in Canada’s workplaces.

“The work racialized Canadians are able to attain is more likely to be insecure, temporary and low paying,” Block says. “Despite an increasingly diverse population, a colour code is firmly in place.”

Among the study’s findings:

  • – In 2006, during the boom years, racialized Canadians had an unemployment rate of 8.6 per cent, as compared to 6.2 per cent for non-racialized Canadians.
  • – On average, non-racialized Canadian earnings grew marginally (2.7%) between 2000-2005 – tepid income gains considering the economy grew by 13.1%. But the average income of racialized Canadians declined by 0.2%.
  • – Racialized workers are over-represented in industries with precarious low-paid jobs; they are under-represented in public administration, and more likely to work in the hard-hit light manufacturing sector.
  • – The colour code contributes to much higher poverty levels: In 2005, 19.8% of racialized families lived in poverty, compared to 6.4% of non-racialized families.

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  • AlanFSmith

    I do not see discrimination against Muslims but so may stick to the old ways and there is a problem with their approach to women and Jews in the workplace. Many companies have dress code and it is just not worth getting into an argument or tangling with some Human Rights group when a women arrives dressed in religious garb so it is better to avoid Muslims until they can move into the 21 century. The job situation in Calgary is depressing and I wonder how the federal government expected people with poor language skills and no trade skills or university education to find work. They will be a millstone around our necks for life. This is a disgusting situation when thee million Canadian families are homeless.