General + Regulatory + Telecom + Media NewsJust one-third of immigrant journalists employed, finds NCM survey

Just one-third of immigrant journalists employed, finds NCM survey

Canada’s first-ever study of immigrant and refugee journalists reveals that less than one-third are employed in the Canadian media industry and of those, over half make less than $40,000 a year.

That finding comes from a new study released by New Canadian Media (NCM), a member-based, non-profit digital news organization founded to highlight the voices of immigrant diasporas. “Breaking into the Canadian media industry: economic and social barriers for first-generation immigrant and refugee journalists” finds that despite increasingly diverse demography in Canada, the media industry has not seen any real shift in increasing the number of working journalists from immigrant and ethno-cultural backgrounds.

The study, funded by the Department of Heritage’s Collective Initiatives Fund, received 101 written survey responses and additionally conducted 47 oral interviews. Respondents hailed from all over the world, including a significant number from IndiaFranceBangladesh and the Philippines. More than half were already Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

According to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Canada welcomed over 800 permanent residents as “journalists” between 2010 and 2020 through Express Entry and other visa programs, excluding asylum seekers or refugees.

While 78% of migrant and refugee respondents have worked in the media for over five years, and 93% would like to continue their career as journalists, only 29% of respondents were currently employed in the Canadian media industry. Two out of five work as freelancers in the media industry or other sectors in the “gig” economy with 59% earning less than $40,000 annually, significantly less than the country’s median total income and the average salary of journalists in Canada.

Among the barriers to employment in media, respondents cited socioeconomic limitations, sparse work opportunities, and language barriers. 49% had experienced emotional or psychological difficulties as a result of not being able to practice their profession.

“This first-of-its-kind study provides remarkable insight into the challenges many immigrants encounter when attempting to find work as journalists in Canada,” said Brent Jolly, President of the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ). “It paints a picture of the need for dynamic new approaches, programs, and opportunities to ensure that the rich lived experience of many journalists from around the world, who choose to come to live in Canada, are included in our ongoing national conversations.”

Among the report’s recommendations are opening up more permanent staffing positions for ethnic reporters, mentorship opportunities, as well as government investment in concrete financial and language support to facilitate entry into the media industry. There are also suggestions that the public broadcaster could devote more space to international coverage to leverage the knowledge and native language skills of refugee and immigrant journalists.

This past July, Canada unveiled a new refugee stream targeted at journalists and other human rights defenders that will be open to up to 250 people per year, including family members.

NCM will be holding a Virtual Colloquium on April 2 to share the results of the study and discuss the implications for the media industry. Register here.

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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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