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B.C. unprepared to house immigrants Canada is welcoming, experts say

February 11, 2023

Simran Sahani took a leap of faith in October, 2022 and moved from Mumbai, India to Victoria with her husband and six-year-old daughter. The couple left their long-standing jobs, family and home behind in the hopes of forging a brighter future for their daughter. While they knew it wouldn’t be easy, Sahani says it’s been harder than anticipated to find housing and jobs that match the education and experience she and her husband have.

“I’ve been feeling really bad because over the years I built up my capabilities — I was a manager … I had 60 to 70 people working under me,” Sahani says. “Now I’ve fallen down and am starting from scratch. We’re just trying to survive because housing and food is super expensive here.”

Sahani’s story isn’t uncommon. Recent Census data show nearly a quarter of immigrants spent at least 30 per cent of their income on shelter costs in 2021 — more than what the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation deems affordable. This is compared to 13 per cent that non-immigrants spend on housing.

As for jobs, a Statistics Canada report from November says “over one-quarter of all immigrants with foreign degrees were working in jobs that require, at most, a high school diploma,” leading to an underutilization of immigrant skill sets.

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