Small towns, rural communities slide towards decline as bigger, more
multicultural cities continue to attract and retain skilled immigrants
TORONTO, May 11 /CNW/ - Despite Ontario being the most popular
destination for newcomers to Canada, rural communities and small towns are
slowing "dying" as immigrants are choosing larger diverse cities to settle,
finds a report released today by Ryerson University immigration policy
This immigration trend poses serious challenges for smaller communities
in Ontario, according to Professor John Shields of Ryerson's Department of
Politics and Public Administration. He and co-author Magdy ElDakiky wrote the
report, Immigration and the Demographic Challenge: A Statistical Survey of the
Ontario Region, which was published in the current issue of Policy Matters, a
publication by the Ontario Metropolis Centre (CERIS).
"Smaller towns and cities, which already have an aging population, are on
the verge of decline. When you factor in young workers leaving home for better
job opportunities elsewhere, this creates enormous problems in spurring growth
in the local economy. Newcomers are also not attracted to these places because
they tend to reflect the Canada of the 1950s and not the new millennium."
Drawing on Census data from 1996 and 2006, Shields and ElDakiky, who just
finished his master's degree in public policy and administration at Ryerson
University, examined the settlement patterns of newcomers in Canada, with a
specific focus on Ontario.
Immigrants make up about two-thirds of Canada's population growth, with
over 80 per cent choosing to settle in large urban centres in Ontario, British
Columbia and Quebec. The researchers found that slightly over half of these
highly skilled newcomers are residing in Ontario, making the province the top
choice for immigrants coming to Canada. The majority is drawn to the Greater
Toronto Area to settle, largely because of the city's settlement services, job
opportunities and multicultural makeup of its residents. Cities such as
Ottawa, Hamilton, Kitchener, London and Windsor are also places favoured by
newcomers to live.
The researchers also discovered that an overwhelming majority of
immigrants called central Ontario home (831,975 people) compared to 4,850
newcomers settling in northern Ontario. Within central Ontario, nearly 55 per
cent of this immigrant population settled in the Greater Toronto Area. However
the city's outlying areas - Peel, York and Halton - saw a huge influx of
newcomers who were attracted to more affordable housing, making these locales
the fastest growing in the province.
"The steady stream of newcomers to large urban centres creates different
challenges for them," says Shields. "They are experiencing integration
problems and, even though there are many job opportunities, their skills are
not being recognized as broadly as they should be."
"Attracting newcomers is not as difficult as encouraging them to live in
smaller municipalities," says ElDakiky. He is currently working with local
members from rural communities to help attract and retain newcomers to their
"Attraction can be achieved by using effective marketing and advertising
campaigns. But retention and integrating newcomers into these local
communities requires more persistent efforts," says the Eyptian-born
researcher, who also chaired a graduate program in sustainable rural
development at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem before immigrating to Canada in
ElDakiky suggests that the solution to retention in smaller towns is
twofold: addressing diversity in schools, workplaces and churches to encourage
local citizens to learn more about the cultural backgrounds of their newest
members of the community; and mobilizing businesses, schools and social
organizations to work together to attract new Canadians and help them start a
new life in their adopted homeland.
CERIS is one of five Canadian research centres studying the effects of
immigration and settlement on cities, and is collaboration among Ryerson
University, York University and the University of Toronto as well as other
social agencies in Toronto.
Ryerson University is Canada's leader in innovative career-focused
education, offering close to 90 PhD, master's, and undergraduate programs in
the Faculty of Arts; the Faculty of Communication & Design; the Faculty of
Community Services; the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Science; and
the Ted Rogers School of Management. Ryerson University has graduate and
undergraduate enrolment of 26,500 students. With more than 64,000
registrations annually, The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is
Canada's leading provider of university-based adult education.
For further information:
For further information: Suelan Toye, Public Affairs, Ryerson
University, Office: (416) 979-5000 x 7161, firstname.lastname@example.org