As Nicholas Keung writes in the Toronto Star, signs of prosperity in the area can be deceiving to those who have just arrived.
A snapshot of the recent immigrants arriving in the region, released yesterday, paints a gloomy picture of the municipality's 118,220 new arrivals between 2001 and 2006 – a demographic that represented 70 per cent of Peel's net population growth. It followed an earlier report in York Region which found similar, worrisome trends.
According to the Peel Newcomer Strategy Group – a consortium of government officials, and representatives from the business, non-profit and education sectors aiming to help immigrants integrate – 33 per cent of the region's recent arrivals lived in poverty. This is almost 2.5 times higher than that of the general population.
On the positive side, 39 per cent of new immigrants between 24 and 65 have a post-secondary education, compared to 23 per cent of Canadian-born Peel residents, yet they still face a 10 per cent unemployment rate, much higher than the total population. Newcomers' median income is $15,000, compared to $28,000 for the total population.
"I've been in settlement services in Peel for 22 years. Things are getting worse," said Effat Ghassemi, settlement program director of Peel Adult Learning Centre. "These numbers are good information to have, but we ... need everyone to work together to address them."
The report rated each neighbourhood with a social risk index, identifying six out of 26 Peel wards as high-need areas. Mississauga's Ward 7, which covers the Hurontario and Dundas St. corridors, topped the list by having the highest number of total recent immigrants (11,535) and a newcomer poverty rate of 23 per cent.