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Almost half of recent immigrants find it hard to make ends meet financially and are unsatisfied with the amount of free time they have since coming to Canada.

A new survey from Statistics Canada found that 43% of “recent immigrants,” which the agency defined as someone who emigrated in 2005 or after, are dissatisfied with their quality of life. 

The survey, called Social Cohesion and Experiences with Discrimination conducted in April found that more established immigrants and non-immigrants were less likely to be struggling financially, both coming in at 29%, respectively.

Reports of financial difficulty within the last 12 months were lowest among those who came from the United States (24%) and Europe (34%). Immigrants from Europe and the United States tended to fare better financially overall, compared to those who came from Asia.

Asian immigrants reported having the highest level of financial difficulty at 46%. 

Statistics Canada noted that it did not factor immigrants’ category of admission into the survey while collecting data. 

Canada’s struggling economy has also contributed to many immigrants having a poor work-life balance.

“In April 2024, more recent immigrants to Canada reported having lower satisfaction with their amount of free time than immigrants who had arrived earlier and non-immigrants,” reads the survey, which found that newcomers from Asia reported the highest financial difficulty and lowest satisfaction with free time. 

“In contrast, despite being the least likely to report experiencing financial difficulty, recent immigrants from Europe were among the least likely to report having a high level of satisfaction with their free time, at 20%.”

The survey also found that 32% of recent immigrants from the U.S. were as likely to report having high satisfaction with their amount of free time as non-immigrants.

However, the differences in responses to satisfaction regarding their free time may be the result of  other cultural factors, like “family structure, supports, and personal outlook,” acknowledged StatsCan.

These figures may help explain why onward migration is on the rise in Canada. 

A study from the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and the Conference Board of Canada last fall found that immigrants to Canada were increasingly choosing to emigrate elsewhere, in search of better opportunities. 

The trend of ‘onward migration,’ where immigrants arrive in Canada and then subsequently leave, has been steadily climbing since the 1980s. 

The number of permanent residents who pursued citizenship within 10 years of their arrival dropped by 40% between 2001 and 2021.

Immigrant retention has worsened in recent years and more and more newcomers “may not be seeing the benefits to Canada,” said the institute. 

Even among those born in Canada, more than ever, are leaving the country in search of better opportunities and countries that offer a more manageable cost of living. 

A separate study from Statistics Canada estimated that roughly 4 million Canadian citizens were living abroad in 2016, which would amount to around 11% of the population or one Canadian citizen out of nine.  

The study found that the average age of Canadians living abroad is 46.2, which is a little higher than the national average. The largest cohort of those living abroad are between 45 and 54 years old. The number of Canadians leaving to go live in foreign countries rose by 3% in the last quarter of 2023. In the last 73 years of data collection, only three other years have seen larger quarterly emigration numbers – 2016, 1967 and 1965.