Project Overview

The Career Pathways for Racialized Newcomer Women (CPRNW) Pilot Project is an exciting innovative three-year pilot project designed to better support newcomer women who identify as visible minorities in entering the Canadian labour market. This page describes the project origins, CPRNW models and core features, the rationale behind those features, network of partners, and how the pilot is being evaluated.


The Career Pathways for Racialized Newcomer Women (CPRNW) Pilot Project is a pan-Canadian research project comprised of eleven employment services interventions for newcomer women who identify as visible minority which are being implemented by eight service partners[1]. The goal of this research project is to test four models of employment services to learn what works to support newcomer women who identify as visible minority in finding good quality employment.

The Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC) has been commissioned by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to design and carry out the pilot as well as to conduct its evaluation. The evidence and valuable learning from the pilot project will help inform a wider implementation of approaches that are found to be efficient in supporting better employment outcomes for newcomer women who identify as visible minority. Moreover, it will support IRCC in building a culture of evidence-informed decision making that will strengthen settlement and integration services and improve outcomes for newcomer women and their families.

[1]The eight service partners are: ACCES Employment (GTA), Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (Halifax), MOSAIC (Vancouver), Opportunities for Employment (Winnipeg), la Société économique de l’Ontario (Sudbury, Toronto, Ottawa), Achēv (GTA), World Skills Employment Centre (Ottawa), and YWCA (Metro Vancouver).


The Government of Canada’s Budget 2018 stated that employment is key to the successful integration of newcomers to Canada by supporting their financial independence and allowing them to make social connections and build and retain job skills. The Government recognizes that newcomer women who identify as visible minority[2] face significant barriers to finding and keeping good jobs, including language challenges, lack of Canadian work experience, lack of professional and social networks, and gender- and race-based discrimination. Some women also deal with precarious or low-income employment, lack of accessible childcare, and limited or interrupted education in their home country. To help reduce these barriers to employment, in 2018-19 the Government announced a $31.9 million investment in support of a three-year pilot to provide enhanced programming to help newcomer women who identify as visible minority secure employment.

[2]The term “visible minority” is used in the Employment Equity Act. The aim of the Act is to achieve workplace equality and to correct employment disadvantages for four designated groups: Aboriginal peoples, Members of Visible Minorities, Peoples with Disabilities and Women. Visible minority persons are defined in the Employment Equity Act as being non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.

Who are newcomer women who identify as visible minority in Canada?

Newcomer women constitute a growing part of Canadian society. It is estimated that by 2031, 27.4% of the Canadian female population will be immigrants. Most newcomers identify as visible minorities — in 2016, 56% of all female immigrants and 85% of recent female immigrants identified as a visible minority (Statistics Canada, 2016).[3] The population of women immigrants who identify as visible minorities has been increasing. Indeed, the proportion of recent female immigrants belonging to a visible minority group was 55% in 1981, 71% in 1991 and 79% in 2011 (Hudon, 2016).

The majority of newcomer women who identify as visible minority live in large urban centres. However there are differences in the largest visible minority groups across census metropolitan areas and municipalities. Immigrant women tend to be highly educated (27.7% have a university degree or higher), and most are admitted under the economic class (54.1%) followed by the family class (34.3%).

Newcomers to Canada come from many countries. The visible minority population in Canada are mainly persons from the following groups: South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean and Japanese.

In addition to their ethnic background, newcomer women who identify as visible minority are quite diverse. Indeed, each woman plays a variety of roles in her life and identifies with multiple factors. Each of these factors — several are presented in Figure 1 — affects individual experiences. Each unique combination of characteristics influences the way a newcomer woman who identifies as a visible minority integrates into the labour market, determines the barriers she may face and the way she experiences them.

Recent immigrants (also known as newcomers or recent arrivals) are landed immigrants who came to Canada up to five years prior to a given survey year or census year.


figure-1 image


Figure 1. Intersectionality of factors affecting a newcomer woman’s experiences.

[3]Recent immigrants (also known as newcomers or recent arrivals) are landed immigrants who came to Canada up to five years prior to a given survey year or census year.

What is the problem being addressed?

Canada has one of the highest inflows of newcomers per capita, and projections show that immigration will continue to be a major contributor to future demographic and labour force growth. Indeed, in the next decade, newcomers will account for the entire net increase in the labour force. However, immigrants, and particularly women who identify as visible minority, are struggling to gain entry into the labour market.
In fact, newcomer women who identify as visible minority have lower labour force participation rates than non-visible minority Canadian-born women: 77.2% (non-visible minority Canadian-born women) vs. 65% (visible minority recent immigrant women) for the core group of 25–64 years old. They also have a lower employment rate than Canadian-born women (73.2% vs. 55.9%t for the core group of 25–64 years old) (Statistics Canada, 2016). Figure 2 illustrates these and other labour market statistics by the immigration status and visible minority status for women of the core group of 25–64 years old. It shows recent newcomer women who identify as a visible minority have the lowest labour market participation rate, lowest employment rate and highest unemployment rate among the four groups of women included in the chart.
figure-2 image

Figure 2. Labour market participation for women (25–64 years old) in Canada.


In addition to lower labour market participation for immigrant women, the gap in the employment incomes between immigrants and Canadians is well documented and increasing (Aydemir & Skuterud, 2004; Frenette & Morissette, 2005; Picot & Sweetman, 2005). Employed immigrant women earn less; they have a median income of $3,558 less a year than Canadian-born women. Moreover, it takes immigrant women longer to integrate into the labour force than immigrant men.

What barriers are newcomer women who identify as visible minority facing in integrating into the labour market?

There is general agreement in the literature on settlement that economic integration is a key step for newcomers trying to integrate socially and culturally and contribute to their communities. For many, the transition into their profession or employment is often the most difficult part of settlement.

The intersection of characteristics and other factors of newcomer women who identify as visible minority makes their integration into society and into the labour market particularly challenging:

  • Newcomer women who identify as visible minority face barriers that many newcomers encounter: poor pre-migration knowledge about the Canadian labour market, lack of recognition of foreign credentials, insufficient language proficiency, lack of Canadian work experience, need to understand Canadian culture and “Canadian way” of doing things, lack of social networks and employer reluctance to hire. These barriers are well documented in the literature.[4]
  • Newcomer women who identify as visible minority may experience discrimination due to their visible minority, gender and newcomer statuses.
  • Women are often the primary childcare providers, thus there are additional barriers such as unavailability of affordable daycare, lack of a support network and cultural gender norms[5] that make it difficult for newcomer women to enter the labour market.
  • Cultural intelligence[6] and psychological and social aspects[7] are barriers that are less discussed in the literature, but they also present considerable barriers for newcomer women entering into the labour force and maintaining employment.

[4]Nabavi, M., Rodier, J., and Legault, L. 2015. Alberta Delivery of Settlement and Integration Services: Final Report, SRDC.

[5]The cultural gender norms do not strongly persist through generations. Pessin and Arpino (2018) analyzed the attitudes towards women working among first- and second-generation immigrants from multiple origin countries living in different countries. They show that first generation immigrants hold views that are more aligned with the source country ideology, while second-generation immigrants have stronger positive association with the gender ideology in the destination country. While there may be some selection into coming to a country with more liberal gender norms, newcomers are still more likely to hold origin country beliefs and views about women working (Pessin & Arpino, 2018).

[6]The concept of cultural intelligence or the “CQ” construct was developed by Earley and Ang in 2003, and is defined as “a person’s capability to perform and manage effectively in an intercultural environment.” Cultural intelligence is crucial for the effective integration of recent immigrants into the host society and the workplace. Newcomers with higher CQ can adjust better and create better networks in organizations. Other employees in an organization should also be encouraged to be open-minded and accepting of various work styles and points of view (Malik et al., 2013).

[7]Examples include: Fortin (2005) found that women’s participation rates in the labour market may be hindered by an inner conflict, the so-called mother’s guilt, when family values clash with society’s egalitarian view some newcomers; some refugees may experience psychological and sometimes physical trauma of moving to another country.

What models are we testing as part of the CPRNW Pilot Project?

The CPRNW Pilot Project is testing four program models to better support newcomer women who identify as visible minority in entering the Canadian labour market. The interventions were developed after a thorough analysis and consideration of findings from a previous literature review, environmental scan, discussions with newcomer women who identify as visible minority and 11 consultations across Canada with immigrant serving organizations, women’s associations, employment service providers, employer councils and other key stakeholders. They aim to address one or more of the major barriers that newcomer women who identify as visible minority face in their search for employment, as well as job retention.
Collectively, the models address the continuum of distance that separates people from the labour market. Each model targets a specific population of newcomer women based on how distant they are from employment and is designed to address barriers to help these specific populations get closer and/or into the labour market.


SRDC designed a case study approach and a statistical analysis of intervention impacts to evaluate the CPRNW. A case study approach will be used to assess the design and implementation of the pilot projects by each service provider in terms of delivery, alignment with VMNW’s needs and other employment and integration programs, program scalability, and stakeholder outcomes. To assess the efficacy of an intervention (by a service provider or across different service providers of the same model), a statistical assessment of intervention impacts on stakeholder outcomes will be conducted, where possible. A cost-benefit analysis of the interventions is also planned. The evaluation will be guided by a Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) lens, which ensured diversity and inclusion are part of the evaluation process.

The implementation and evaluation of CPRNW is currently underway. An early implementation report is planned for early 2021. For additional information, contact Susanna Lui Gurr at sgurr@srdc.org.