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Degrees evade Filipino youth

Less likely to surpass their parents: study

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The children of Canadian immigrants generally do better than their parents -- unless they're Filipino males, a study released Wednesday shows.

The Institute for Research on Public Policy conducted what's been hailed as the first study to focus on Filipino youth in Canada. The study, Understanding Intergenerational Social Mobility: Filipino Youth in Canada, found Filipino youth, particularly males, are less likely to hold a university degree than their parents and their peers in other immigrant groups.

With the Philippines being one of Canada's leading source countries for new immigrants and the main source for Manitoba, the lack of upward mobility for Filipino youth is worth studying, said Prof. Philip Kelly, director of the York Centre for Asian Research in Toronto and author of the study.

It surveyed 650 Filipino youth across Canada, focusing on Winnipeg, Vancouver and Toronto and conducting 70 interviews.

Winnipeg -- where Filipino-Canadians have been elected to every level of government -- stood out, Kelly said.

"What we found in Winnipeg is the immigration history and geography of settlement is quite different."

In cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, the Live-In Caregiver Program has been the largest immigration program for Filipino arrivals. Parents often work long hours for low pay with little time for parental oversight and support for children and, in some cases, extended periods of family separation.

"Although the program helps fulfil the need for child care in Canada, it creates a rupture in the future-Canadian families of the caregivers themselves," Kelly said.

Winnipeg's large Filipino community has come primarily through the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Family Class and Provincial Nominee Program, the study found. Beginning with nurses and garment workers, members of extended family with roots in Winnipeg arrived and grew to form the city's largest cultural group. And they stuck close to each other.

"The other interesting thing about Winnipeg is its different geography of settlement," said Kelly. "We've done mapping exercises, and it's very concentrated in this North End neighbourhood. It's a much more coherent and cohesive community than Toronto and Vancouver," he said. "There, they're more dispersed across the region."

Being tight-knit has its benefits, said the geography professor.

"The fact the community is concentrated and cohesive led to more political success in terms of MLAs and councillors and more prominent Filipino-Canadians in civic life than any other city in Canada," said Kelly. "That is important for youth for role models and networks and various circuits of influence."

The study found 37 per cent of Filipinos between the ages of 55 and 64 who arrived in Canada in the 1990s had a bachelor's degree or higher education. In 2011, 26.9 per cent of Canadian-born Filipino males ages 25 to 29 had a bachelor's degree or higher. Forty-one per cent of females in that age group had a bachelor's degree.

Kelly's study involved interviews with Filipino youth groups, including Winnipeg's Aksyon Ng Ating Kabataan, and Filipino Youth in Action Inc.

"It's the first real study on Filipino Canadian youth," said Darlyne Bautista, co-founder of ANAK and a Winnipeg School Division trustee.

"It's not clear how well we assimilate or integrate," said the Canadian-born Filipina. "This is a step in the right direction. The Filipino community is lacking in academic literature," she said.

"I want our voice to be equal, given that our community is growing so quickly."

The study of next-generation Filipino youth has policy implications, said Kelly. "Immigration is not just about the settlement of the first few years; it's an intergenerational process. The outcomes for youth are part of a process shaped by extended family."

Slapping a tight cap on the number of parents and grandparents who can be sponsored to come to Canada is questionable policy, he said.

"Grandparents may not be participating in the labour market and may not appear very productive, but in terms of the role they play in the development of the next generation, they play a key role."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 20, 2014 A7

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