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Improving labour market information to help Canadians make better-informed decisions

Newcomers to Canada of every immigrant category – including skilled workers, business class, families, and refugees – start and grow businesses in this country. This report brings together existing data, scholarly research, and programs and practices on immigrant self-employment and entrepreneurship with the objective of (1) identifying characteristics of self-employment and entrepreneurship among immigrants, (2) describing the challenges faced by immigrants in starting new businesses, and (3) documenting and describing existing services, programs, and policies available in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) for immigrants who are self-employed and entrepreneurs. The report also describes reasons why immigrants start their own businesses, identifies some lessons learned from other jurisdictions in terms of supporting immigrant entrepreneurs, and provides preliminary observations about the efficacy of existing supports for self-employed immigrants, including perceived gaps in services. The George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation and Maytree commissioned this study to explore whether self-employment and entrepreneurship is a viable option for lifting new Canadians out of poverty in the Greater Toronto Area, and what role, if any, the foundations may have in supporting this transition. Our interest is new Canadians because they make up a significant proportion of the region’s poor and may need unique supports to transition into self-employment or to start a business. Self-employment refers to a specific employment status whereas entrepreneurship encompasses self-employment but also carries with it implications of creating something new and the desire to grow the business beyond a sole proprietorship. This report does not distinguish between these two overlapping categories.