|Editor's Note: The Centre for Social Justice recently released the report "Canada's Creeping Economic Apartheid" by Grace-Edward Galabuzi. This is a ground-breaking study, with new, never before published data, on the growing
economic racial divide in today's Canada. Here is a summary of the report. The full report of 130 pages is available in PDF format.|
"Canada's Creeping Economic Apartheid" is the first comprehensive study in
Canada documenting how racism shapes the way our non-white population lives
and works in Canada. While previous studies have addressed specific trends
involved, or examined particular impacts in individual communities, this
report pulls together data from a wide range of sources, delivering an
all-inclusive and disturbing picture of how racism is establishing a
stranglehold on Canada's economy and culture.
In presenting his findings the report's author, Grace-Edward Galabuzi, a
Political Science doctoral student at York University, rejects the term
"visible minorities" used by the federal government to define "persons, other
than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in
colour". The old term categorizes people as a minority when in some urban
areas such as the City of Toronto the people in this category outnumber
whites. Nor does it convey the fact that racism acts as the dominant force
setting people apart. Galabuzi has therefore chosen the term "racialised
groups" which more emphatically conveys this crucial point.
In commissioning this study, the CSJ Foundation for Education and Research
was concerned that little academic or more popular journalistic work has been
conducted on the issue in Canada. Unlike the United States, where numerous
academic and civil society organizations are mandated to study the issue,
Canada has few similar bodies - even though Canada's racialised groups are
set to become one fifth of our population in the new century.
"Canada's Creeping Economic Apartheid" releases a variety of data, in
particular a new specially designed run of Statistics Canada's Survey of
Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) for 1996, 1997 and 1998. It also analyzes
previously unpublished data from the 1996 Census, Human Resources and
Development Canada statistics as well as 1999 Employment Equity data. The
fact that so much of this material has been left unexamined by the federal
government is serious cause for concern.
The facts and figures that have now come to light expose the United Nations
designation of Canada as "the best country to live in" as extremely
misleading. While Canada may indeed be the best country to live in for its
white population, the same cannot be said for its racialised groups. Average
indicators that wrap up everyone in the same statistical box obscure this
story. When the data is separated, a very different - and troubled - story is
told when indicators for Canada's white population are compared with those of
In studying overall economic performance, the report found there is a
persistent double-digit gap between the economic performance of racialized
group members and other Canadians over the period 1996 to 1998.
- In 1998, racialised Canadians made $14,507 compared to $20,517 for
non-racialised Canadians (based on individual pre-tax median earnings).
- This gap translates into 28 per cent less in median income before tax and
25 per cent less after taxes.
TAX AND GOVERNMENT TRANSFERS DID LITTLE TO CLOSE THE GAP.
- Examining post-tax and post-transfers income, racialised groups earned 20
per cent less in 1996 and 26 per cent less in 1997. The gap narrowed only
slightly to 25 per cent in 1998.
WHITE IMMIGRANTS DO BETTER THAN RACIALISED IMMIGRANTS.
- During the post-1986 period when racialised group immigration has been most
intense, immigrants from racialized communities earned 28-31.5 per cent less
than white immigrants.
INCOME DISPARITY APPLIES TO RACIALISED COMMUNITY MEMBERS BORN IN CANADA
- According to 1995 Statistics Canada data, just over 253,000 earners in the
racialised group population were born in Canada and their average employment
income, $18,565, was almost 30 per cent below the level reported by all other
Canadian who were Canadian born.
HIGH NUMBERS OF RACIALISED COMMUNITY MEMBERS ARE LIVING IN POVERTY
- Individuals from racialised groups have poverty rates of 35.6 per cent. The
general population has a poverty rate of 17.6 per cent - that's over 100%
- Family poverty rates are similar - the rate for racialised groups is 19%
and 10.4% for white families.
- In 1995, the rate for children under six living in low income families is
an astounding 45 per cent - almost twice the overall figure of 26 per cent
for all children living in Canada.
- In Canada's urban centers, while racialised groups' members account for
21.6 per cent of the population, they account for 33 per cent of the urban
- A recent statistical profile conducted by the Canadian Council on Social
Development found that in some cities like Vancouver, Markham, Richmond Hill,
Toronto and Mississauga, more than half of those living poverty are
racialised group members.
UNEMPLOYMENT IS A KEY PROBLEM.
RACIALISED GROUPS ARE UNDER-REPRESENTED IN HIGHLY-PAID JOBS
- An analysis of recently-published HRDC Employment Equity Data showed
under-representation in more lucrative industries: motor vehicle industry
(7.0 per cent), primary steel (4.2 per cent) and the federal government (5.6
- While some 11 per cent of the population are racialised group members, only
15 of 1975 fire chiefs are from racialised groups, a percentage of less that
0.8 per cent. For police chiefs, the figure stands at 3 per cent.
- While figures show a higher than average level of contact with the criminal
justice system, only 90 judges out of some 2,455 across Canada are from
racialised groups - less than 4 per cent.
INCOME ONLY IMPROVES WHEN RACIALISED GROUPS ARE UNION MEMBERS
- The income difference between racialised and non-racialised employees drops
to a single digit (8 per cent) in the unionized full-time full year work
sector (using 1999-2000 data)
- However, racialised group members are underrepresented in unionized work.
Of the 2,905,100 unionized workers in Canada, only 203,100 are racialised
group members, or 7 per cent of the population.
EDUCATION IS NOT THE PROBLEM
- Of the skilled workers in racialised groups selected for immigration in
1998 72 per cent of them held university degrees, a rate four times greater
than the percentage in the Canadian-born population.
- The income disparity between and non-racialised groups for both lowly and
highly educated members is similar, approximately 23 per cent.
- 22% of racialised men and 16.9% of racialised women had university degrees
in 1996 compared to 13.4% of other men and 11.7% of other women.
With Canada's racialised population expected to rise to 25 per cent by 2015
Canada's economic apartheid will become even more pronounced. Urban areas
will be particularly affected. By 2001, the City of Toronto's racialised
population is expected to stand at over 50 per cent. The 1996 census put
Vancouver's racialised population at 31 per cent, Calgary, 16 per cent,
Edmonton 13 per cent and Montreal 12 per cent.
- Because economic apartheid is most acute in urban areas, the federal
government must develop a National Urban Strategy, as an urgent priority.
This strategy must target urban poverty with racialised community issues as a
- The federal government must also move swiftly to strengthen enforcement
mechanisms in the Federal Employment Equity Act. At the provincial level,
mandatory employment equity programs should be introduced to deal with the
marketplace's failure to equitably allocate employment opportunities and
- Racialised groups must have better access to regulated professions and
trades with federal and provincial initiatives designed to break down
- National programs to create affordable housing, childcare programs,
anti-racism education, and community economic development must also be
introduced to ensure racialised communities are properly supported.