What barriers do immigrants face when they come to Canada?

The story ‘Newcomer’ by Mehri Yalfani is an example of a language barrier, a common obstacle that immigrants face when deciding to live in Canada. She was silent because she could not speak English properly and knew she didn’t want to be embarrassed. They may have access to ESL support but it is frequently the case that lack of funds can lead to lower educational outcomes, lack of basic literacy skills, inability to gain knowledge and attend training programs to pursue further education. Language affects access to care for immigrant children. According to a recent graph of the percentage of the population that have problems communicating with doctors: 48% usually had interpreters during a health care visit, 70% only fully understood what the doctor was saying, and 16%  did not fully understand their doctor or ask any questions. [Source: http://www.mmc.edu/www.meharry.org/Fl/Access_to_Health_Care/Barriers_to_Care_for_Immigrants.html, Retrieved February 1, 2008] There still exists rampant racism and discrimination because of one person who has an accent or cannot speak English properly. There are many terrible sad stories I’ve heard and witnessed because of immigrants who have limited English-speaking skills end up feeling frustrated. Despite all this, I believe the system of bringing newcomers here to Canada is broken.

The barriers extend far beyond language. Canada is traditionally a service based country and professional opportunities are very small, so nepotism plays above all. If you don’t have any personal relationship, then all of your qualifications are worthless. Some obstacles I can think of that immigrants face are lack of professional networks with employers and social contacts, difficulty obtaining Canadian professional work experience, difficulty of unwelcoming workplaces, costs of training to each individual for their learning skills in order to progress, inadequacy of career counselling and information about how Canada’s economic factors work, insufficient knowledge of employment opportunities and requirements, and most importantly, lack of international education, training and previous work experience. Youth unemployment is significantly high than of the general population. They may face racial discrimination, language barriers, culture shocks and lack of Canadian experience that gets in the way of them entering the labour market smoothly. Also immigrants are sometimes prevented from working at a specific organization because they cannot produce the required documentation about their foreign educational credentials.

Himani Bannerji’s story ‘The Other Family’ is about seeing herself ‘different’ because, like her, I am becoming increasingly aware of my physical racial identity. The predominance of other ethnic groups can be difficult for other immigrants if they do not belong to the same ethnic group. For example, I am a Muslim and because of recent times and politics, it is now a targeted group. What’s ironic is that I have learned more about being a Muslim here, than back in Dubai. Here, they are more serious about the faith and religion we have in order to connect with other Muslims our age to see what living here is like. Yet most teaching of religion in high schools in Canada has mainly focused on Christianity. I think courses like ‘word religion’ should be expanded. We also have to deal with issues on sexuality, lifestyles and marriage within our own Muslim community as we have to take pride in preserving our religious identity from a western country. [Source: http://www.muslimcanadiancongress.org Retrieved February 1, 2008]

I think new immigrants feel the need to stick together because we are all going thru the same thing. In Canada, jobs may be plentiful but they are not the glamorous jobs. We might not find the same high paying job that we used to have back home or live in an equally fancy neighbourhood or have friends who we’ve known throughout our childhood, but we need to learn to adopt and look at things that matter like family, new friends, and succeeding in what we want to achieve during our stay in Canada. Isabel Vincent’s story ‘Finding a Nationality that fits’ is a story about how they are a Portuguese family who tried to ‘Canadianize’ themselves in order to be accepted in society. Women are often the target of discriminatory behaviour in various industry fields. We often are left on our own to find ourselves in Canada. After a period of time living in Canada, may lose his/her family traditions, beliefs and values and it changes a person. Now, I see more young teens that came here with such innocence being involved in things that they shouldn’t be, just because they want to take part in the ‘in-crowd.’

I believe that if we all help each other and socially integrate among other immigrants, we can find opportunities and learn how to establish ourselves here. Therefore we can make our networks and amalgamate in the society. I hope Canada becomes a country of hope, not of shattered dreams.


25 thoughts on “What barriers do immigrants face when they come to Canada?

  1. feelsgood11 says:

    Good thoughts about actual problems in Canada. I’ve read it with pleasure.

    But I don’t understand those immigrants who comes to Canada unaware about the barriers that exist in this country.

    As for me, I am reading a lot about Canada, listening to podcasts and working on myself to improve my English communication skills, getting more knowledge here that will be costly there when I come, making friends and so on.

    Moving to another country with a different culture is always a challenge. We should prepare ourselves before the last jump.

  2. lheylah says:

    I agree, I just didn’t realize how much I would be giving up just to live here. I mean I did live in Philippines and did my college credits there for 2 yrs but it wasn’t as difficult.

    I had to live around different people, some good, others bad and then learning how to cope on my own was not new to me but in a new country where it just had different sets of rules and laws.

    There are so many positive and negatives things I hear about living here and all I can say is that at the end, it comes down to each individual. How he/she takes it I guess.

    As for me, I’m going back to Dubai for sure after I get my passport.

    • Kiratapal says:

      my grand father used to work in dubai. he was one of the main men to work on the palm islands. i go there in the vacations and everything there fo me is free because i go with my granddad(he lives there, Millionaire).

  3. april delong says:

    When Irish immigrants came here where did they first stay?

  4. april delong says:

    What happened to many immigrants on there way over to canada, ?

  5. Good Blog, great posts and intuitive thoughts. Keep up. We need more awarenss and more education about what works and what works well.

    By the way, would appreciate your comment (as well as vote in the poll) at my newest blog deartotoronto.blogspot.com.
    Best wishes

  6. canadianwritter says:

    what are the problems that immigrants face when they come to Canada

  7. Ms. Silva says:


    I am a student teacher in a grade 8 class at Beverly Heights Middle School in Toronto, Ontario. For our migration unit, the students were asked to read excerpts of your blog post ” What barriers do immigrants face when they come to Canada?” and to formulate replies with their partners to be posted online. Some students added their own experiences and all replies came out of a discussion over specific excerpts. We look forward to receiving your feedback and hope to begin a dialogue regarding Canadian immigration barriers. Please feel free to email me with any questions or concerns.

    Ms. J. Silva
    Beverly Heights Middle School, Toronto, Ont.

    • lheylah says:

      I would surely love to read what your students had written!

      • KaDon says:

        We think that knowing someone with power can help you find a job or give or get a job. It makes makes things easier because its like a person opening a door for you.

        Also racisal discrimination is basically telling you to go back to your country and to not stay there. You’re basically only accepted if your born here in the country, not as an immigrant, so this is a barrier that shouldn’t be there.

  8. Micheal Fibs & Tizzy Mizzy says:

    Canada has tons of professional oppurtunities. Most of the time you need a relative who already lives in Canada to immigrate there. That’s when neopotism really goes into play, when it comes to job opportunities.

  9. Shirley, Sami, Janet says:

    What if someone didn’t speak the same language as you ? How would you communicate with them ? Maybe immigrants could find people that are from the same country or speak the same language as they can. Another way to get help is going to a program that helps new comers . Someone would most likely help you if they have been immigrants themselves and knew how you felt.

  10. akil dixon says:

    I think that immagrints deserve respect when they come to a country such as canada or the united states it shouldn’t matter where they migrate to.. treat them with respect so they feel at home. 🙂

  11. shirley says:

    Even though i have never been in this situation, but my dad has he came from viEtnam with his parents and brother and sisters. my dad’s life wasn’t so good in vietnam but it got worse when japan started war then he immigrated to china then to canada he was afriad because he didn’t understand english but only chinese ,
    my dad would always tell me how lucky i was and canada is a wonderfull country. xD

  12. Danvir,Cesar & Divya says:

    Our reason is you can get more opportunities and rights. We dont think you should move because you can finish your college credits and then go back to Dubai. You will have 2 more years in college. So you should stay in philippines and then move back to Dubai. Good luck with your decision. Sincerely,
    Cesar, Danvir & Divya

  13. Avrii & Jess says:

    Hi we’re from Beverley Heights MS and we think that you’re right because when you immigrate, you leave behind families, money, personal belongings, etc. So when you leave your stuff behing it makes things a bit harder, e.g, if you leave behind yor car,it makes it harder to get to your destination faster, especially in the winter when you have to wait longer for the bus or the subway to come. Another example is when you leave your families behind you basically have no one else to talk to because you don’t know anyone and if the people in the other country speaks another language, it’s harder for you to make friends. And if you have a low-paying job, it’s harder to afford to pay for your transportation.

  14. Yatzel & Long says:


    We are the students of Beverley Heights Middle School and we read your article and my friend here Yatzel was a newcomer in canada here too. She didn’t knew that much english but she has learned alot.As for me i was born in Canada and learned english really well and my other language.

  15. Dwayne Wade & Akil says:

    I think that f immigrants are coming to Canada they should be granted with respect and services because they are new here and they need all the help they can get. They should be given respect, because if other people want to migrate to another place and they would like to be treated with respect. It is important to be treated with respect because when you first immigrate to another place ypu have to find a house and try to find a job, also try to find some new friends to help you get a job and help you explor the place and show you arond

  16. Ingrid says:

    Dear Ms. Mehri Yalfani,

    I’m a student from Beverley Heights Middle school, and I wanted to know if it was hard for you to find a job & if you have a family to support you when you immigrated to Canada .

  17. Kiratapal says:

    i used to be an immigrant . i came to canada 7 years ago. i did have language problems for the first 2 weeks but then i picked up. grades 5-7 were horrible(suspensions, detensions, low marks kinds getting better, grade 8 kinda good) in grade 9 i was a preson like any other. i was surprised to get marks abot 85%. my english is in between exellent and good. (i haven’t finished my english course yet so i donno my mark. i thin it in the 70’s. i need a 85 or above and i can get that. french was always a problem but i was always surprised when i passed with a 60% sometimes 70% when i barely studied. ALL in all FTW!!!!!!!

  18. booooosh says:

    i think this is histarical..

  19. mira says:

    I agree that immigrants should be made aware of what they should expect prior to coming to Canada – ex. if you are a doctor in your own country, most likely additional education is required to be a doctor here. Canada is not here to be a welcoming committee and cater to everyone! Before you move, know what to expect.

  20. Vivian says:

    I moved to Canada two years ago, I’m a single mother, not body told me that being a single mother here is difficult, I can not have a full time job, since my son’s school is until 3:20 pm and after school programs are just a few, not to mention the English barrier, when I did my interview to immigrate, they told me my English was good enough to get a job in my field. Still study in order to find a Job in my profession, not to mention the low pay and high cost of living. I did research a lot before to move to here, and things looked easier than they are. I hope things turn positive, I think this country is great for kids.

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