Barriers to Integration

Social Exclusion Among Refugees in Canada

December 2019
Download the report (PDF)

Barriers to Integration explores the socio-economic challenges and barriers that refugees face in integrating into Canadian society.

In this report, Halima Abdille unpacks some of the forms of discrimination faced by refugees and immigrants, particularly when it comes to seeking employment. The report combines historical and quantitative research with a community-based study of the lived experiences of refugees.

Most often, Canadians regard themselves as caring and quite accepting towards “others,” of different races, religions and ethnicities. There is, however, another side of our society, one that is not as good as we would like to think of: an uncaring side of Canadians when it comes to refugees.

Many refugees find themselves in limbo after their arrival in Canada, facing both cultural and socio-economic barriers to fully integrate into the Canadian society.

This research paper investigates the socio-economic factors that hinder refugees from reaching their potential in this country and achieving their dreams: 

  1. Difficulty in attaining work permits
  2. Discrimination in the 900 series of Social Insurance Numbers
  3. Cuts to Legal Aid in Ontario
  4. A lack of education and foreign credential recognition
  5. Underemployment and skill matching
  6. A lack of social capital


  • Brad Wassink rejoined CPJ in 2013 as Communications Coordinator after serving a year as Public Justice Intern. He has experience as a policy researcher and community organizer for several non-profit organizations, working on environmental advocacy, supportive housing, and restorative justice for organizations such as ACORN, Prison Fellowship Ministries, and Clean Water Action. He grew up in the Christian Reformed community and has also attended Presbyterian and Anglican churches. These traditions have fostered his passion for social justice which, coupled with his interest in political science, has made the intersection of faith and political life especially intriguing to him. Brad has a B.A. in International Relations from Calvin College and he studied abroad in Jamaica and Ghana. For two years he and his wife, Erin, taught ESL in Seoul, South Korea. They now live in Ottawa where they attend St. Peter & St. Paul’s Anglican Church.

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