Shadow Economies: Economic Survival Strategies Of Toronto Immigrant Communities documents the realities of many immigrants who are stymied at the edge of the economic mainstream. The research conducted by the Toronto East Local Immigration Partnership and funded by the Wellesley Institute shows that many newcomers survive by participating in parallel economic activities, often facing exploitation in substandard work conditions, even in established businesses.
Shadow Economies reports on surveys with over 450 immigrants in Toronto about their household economics. It found people working and living in the informal economy revealing a high number of newcomers working in poor, substandard jobs, where bullying and harassment are common and few employment standards are known or followed. Unregulated economic activities are widespread both in substandard employment and in undocumented, cash-centred shadow economies.
Among the report’s key findings:
- A shocking 3% of respondents formerly in professional occupations were still working in their field
- Only one-third of households reported being able to fully cover their household expenses on income earned through formal employment
- 42% of those engaged in informal economic activities earned less than $10,000 annually from them
- Of those who were working, only 34% agreed their current job offers good prospects for career advancement
- 38% had experienced bullying or harassment on the job within the previous six months; 4 out of 10 held jobs that do not meet provincial labour standards
- 83% of respondents identified a major course of stress in their life, of these, 41% cited their financial situation as the cause
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