Immigrant Women and Economic Security

New Canadians, both immigrant and refugee, often have trouble when it comes to economic security. This problem is worse with regard to new Canadian women.

We know that roughly 23% of all foreign-born women live in a low-income situation. That’s compared to 16% of Canadian-born women. All research points to the fact that women who are categorized as immigrants tend to be marginalized when it comes to job opportunities and financial opportunities.

It was due to facts like these that WEC determined to prepare its report Moving Forward: Advancing the Economic Security of Immigrant Women In Canada, a report you can read in its entirety here.


The goals of this report were twofold: to determine the nature of the barriers to new Canadian economic security and to advise on how best to overcome them.

This necessitated research. We gathered focus groups made up of leaders from organizations that deal directly with new Canadians and allowed their knowledge to guide our observations. As well, we leveraged the best available research on the subject.


Our research showed that immigrant and refugee women are affected far more strongly by economic barriers than are Canadian-born women. These barriers are multiple, and include:

  1. Precarious employment and/or low incomes
  2. Lack of affordable and accessible childcare
  3. Lack of affordable and adequate housing
  4. Difficulty with language barriers
  5. Lack of credential recognition
  6. Lack of community supports

Overall, we noted that this is exacerbated by the discrimination faced by new Canadian women, as well as the failure of governments to cope with the challenge of credential recognition and the difficulty of the immigrant process itself.


Because the barriers were multiple, our solutions were many. We view the problem holistically, and know that there are many things that need to be done to combat the issue. In some ways, this may make it look insurmountable, but the reality is quite different.

We’ve taken strides in this report towards addressing these problems in meaningful ways. We’ve laid a road map that we ourselves will follow over the coming years. And the report itself has given us a useful tool. We are able to show politicians what effect their policies have on this population, and encourage them to do what needs to be done to make lasting improvements.