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Racialized Canadians seeing higher unemployment amid pandemic shutdowns

Last Updated Aug 13, 2020 at 8:07 am MDT

CALGARY (CityNews) – Analysts believe jobless rates are stressed by pandemic shutdowns, but there has always been inequity in the workforce for racialized people.

For the first time, Statistics Canada includes conditions for visible minorities in its jobs report. July’s Labour Market Survey said unemployment was higher for South Asian, Arab and Black Canadians.

Racialized Canadians saw a jobless rate of about 16 per cent compared to about nine per cent for white Canadians.

“It’s the uncomfortable truth that we are often not willing to discuss I guess publicly, but this is what’s happening. Whether it’s COVID or not, it was there,” SAID Anupam Das, Economist, Mount Royal University.

Noshy Karbani was laid off March 17. She was an executive assistant at YMCA Calgary but said the non-profit is struggling with revenue for facilities and can’t hire everyone back yet.

“At the beginning, everyone was like the break is great, but the break is only good for so long especially when there’s very limited income. It’s been five months.”

Stats Canada notes higher unemployment rates among racialized Canadians but also suggests employment may be linked to the number of workers in certain industries – pointing to the number of Filipinos and Black Canadians remaining in healthcare and social services.

Analysts like Das said the pandemic is not to blame.

“It’s not like there’s suspicion about systemic racism or gender wage gap. It exists. We really need to emphasize the fact that system discrimination is in the job market, and I’m specifically talking about the economics of that.”

For Karbani, she’s not sure how long she can wait.

“For my position, it’s kinda unknown and they’re sort of saying it might not be until pre-COVID normal. You know, God only knows what that means.”