Last Updated: June 9, 2017

Syrian refugee employment pool in the GTA


Timing of entry into the Canadian labour pool

Almost from the time they arrive, Syrian adults likely begin worrying about finding work.


The pressure to begin working may be greatest for Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs), as they do not usually benefit from the level of in-kind gifts (such as clothing and furniture) and emotional support, as is normally provided by Privately-Sponsored Refugees (PSRs). However, as a group, GARs also have the lowest levels of English proficiency and education and do not have the benefit of sponsor networks to help them find jobs.


In the case of PSRs, many private sponsors strongly encourage newly-arrived refugees to study English for many months, before seeking employment. In any event, as of the beginning of “Month 13”, private sponsor financial commitments end. While some government financial assistance then becomes available, it will likely be less than the newcomer families had previously been receiving from their sponsors in terms of both cash and in-kind support.


Not all adult refugees will actively seek work. Reasons for not seeking work include:


Size of GTA Syrian refugee labour pool as of start of 2017

We estimate that, as of January 2, 2017, the labour pool of Syrian refugees in the GTA, including 16 and 17 year olds starting to look for part-time and full-time work, was approximately 3,156 in number, with perhaps 45% being female. (See Calculation of Syrian refugee employment pool in the GTA.) Of these, we are guessing that 1,250 already had jobs, leaving a balance of 1,906 looking, or soon ready to start looking, for work. (Of course, just because someone has a job, does not mean that it is satisfactory for any number of reasons, and therefore some of the estimated 1,250 with work by January 2, 2017 were almost certainly looking or wishing for new jobs. We are also not counting those working “under the table”, as having satisfactory full-time or part-time employment.)


We have no estimate of how many of the Syrians refugees in the GTA labour pool were youth, between the ages of 18 and 29.


Size of GTA Syrian refugee labour pool as of December, 2017

Based upon our estimate of an additional 2,388 to 3,208 Syrian refugees arriving in the GTA during 2017, we expect the corresponding labour pool to increase by 1,000 to 1,300 by December 31, 2017, bringing the total labour pool of those having arrived since November, 2015 to between 4,156 and 4,356 (out of a general Syrian refugee population of 9,659 to 10,479.)