Immigrants starting out in Niagara: Immigrants who enter Canada at the Fort Erie Peace Bridge point of entry, are there to reunite with families and/or to seek new opportunities. Many immigrants come toCanada with prior education, credentials and experience as teachers, doctors, engineers, journalists, nurses or business people. They face barriers related to non-recognition of their prior education and credentials, language barriers and challenges to finding appropriate and meaningful employment. Approximately 37% of Canada’s immigrants have a university degree and individuals in this population often pursue further education in Canada. Approximately 18-20% ofNiagara’s population are immigrants.
Refugees seek asylum from war, persecution of genocide or to flee famine and natural disasters According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Ontariowas home to nearly 60% of all refugee claimants as of December 1st, 2009. Of just over 61,000 claimants, 927 have made Niagara Region their home. Refugees inNiagara have remained relatively consistent at 1.2%, or 1212 people. The numbers peaked in 2005/06 when the Peace Bridge Newcomer Center reported that 1,829 refugees made a claim for asylum at that point of entry in 2006. Of those, 383 remained inNiagara. Numbers of refugees seeking asylum have dropped, mostly due to immigration and refugee policy changes. Compared to other areas of Ontario, Niagara has a higher rate of refugee claimants than Kitchener and Oshawa, but much lower than Ottawa, Hamilton and London.
Immigrants: Fort Erie processed higher numbers of refugees up until 2005 when policy changes affected claims coming from the USA. However, Fort Erie still remains high in numbers being processed in Canada. The following figure indicates the numbers with 4,568 being processed in Niagara in 2008 and 3,012 in 2009. The largest numbers arrive as families, although an increase in unaccompanied minors occurred in 2008 and 2009. Source: Peace Bridge Newcomer Centre 2011; Canada Border Services