Zimbabwean Canadians

Northwestern European Canadians West Asian Canadians Punjabi Canadians
Zimbabwean Canadians
Total population
by ancestry, 20116,425[1]
by birth, 20115,065
Regions with significant populations
Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, Edmonton, St. John’s, NL

Zimbabwean Canadians are Canadian citizens of Zimbabwean descent or a Zimbabwe-born person who resides in Canada. According to the Canada 2011 Census there were 6,425 Canadian citizens who claimed Zimbabwean ancestry and 5,065 Zimbabwean citizens residing in the country at the moment of the census.

In 2010, Southern African Migration Programme conducted a survey across Canada about Zimbabwean migration; this was the first major study of Zimbabwean Canadians. According to SAMP, the movement of Zimbabwean migrants into Canada started in 1980 after Zimbabwe gained independence, but a large influx of Zimbabweans started in the 2000s when inflation, poverty, and political oppression exponentially grew in Zimbabwe; the peak year was in 2004 when 1,456 Zimbabweans became permanent residents. In the 2006 Canadian Census, there were 8,040 Zimbabwe-born people in Canada, compromising 6,525 permanent residents and 1,515 students or temporary workers.[2]

Ontario is the most popular destination for Zimbabweans, where 60% of all immigrants settled first into this province. Other provinces include Alberta (13% total), British Columbia (12% total), and Quebec (10% total). Toronto is the most popular city destination for Zimbabweans.[2]

As for education, 30% of immigrants into Canada from Zimbabwe had a university degree, but 40% were asked to re-train in Canada in order to be qualified to work. The largest problem for Zimbabweans is that their credentials are less desirable in the job market and they are forced to settle for less-skilled occupations; 35% of Zimbabweans note that they are working in a job that does not make full use of their professional qualifications and experience.[2]

Many Zimbabweans acquire secure status in Canada that allows them to stay permanently; nearly 50% of Zimbabweans surveyed are Canadian citizens, while 33% are permanent residents. Additionally, Zimbabweans were asked to rate 15 quality-of-life indicators for Zimbabwe and Canada, and Canada was ranked better than Zimbabwe for almost all indicators; these included medical services, personal safety, future of children, prospects for professional advancement, availability of employment and job security, and level of income. The only indicator that Zimbabwe was ranked more highly for was quality of social life.[2]

Two-thirds of Zimbabwean Canadians send money to Zimbabwe, and the average annual amount sent is 2,703 (Canadian dollar). One-third of Zimbabweans send money once a month, and 28% of Zimbabwean Canadians send money a few times a year. Over 60% of those remitting money send to close family members, while 20% send to extended family. Most of the money sent to family members is used to buy food, while other significant uses are for paying medical expenses, school fees, and other day-to-day expenses. The money sent from diasporic Zimbabweans plays a significant role in supporting the lives of family members still in Zimbabwe, and contributing the GDP and sales in Zimbabwe.[2]

Many Zimbabwean Canadians believe that they play an important role in the development of Zimbabwe through financial support which could take a form of fundraising for projects in Zimbabwe, investment in business and infrastructure, developing new projects, and making charitable donations. There is potential for the diaspora engagement to address challenges that Zimbabwe faces during reconstruction, such as stagnant development.[2]

Between 1980 and 2009, 53.4 of all Zimbabwean migrants into Canada were refugees; 13% were skilled workers or professionals; 6% had family sponsorship; 4.8% were temporary workers.[2]

Of the Zimbabweans that responded to the survey, a majority of Zimbabweans wanted to come to Canada for their children’s future, for safety and security, and for education and economic reasons.[2]

In term of diaspora engagement, 20% of survey respondents belong to charitable organizations with links to Zimbabwe, 19% are a part of religious associations, and 11% are a part of an NGO.[2]

Zimbabwean Canadians indicated in a survey that only 8% thought it was very likely for them to return to Zimbabwe within two years; the likelihood rises to 20% within five years, and to 49% at some point in the future. This shows that about half of Zimbabwean Canadians expect the political and environmental climate in Zimbabwe to improve in the future, yet many are not ready to return to Zimbabwe.[2]

Brain Drain

Brain Drain portrays a large diaspora of Zimbabweans into Canada, especially the high-skilled, educated, and professional Zimbabwean citizens migrating to Canada for better opportunities. According to Sinclair, this presents a problem because Zimbabwe has invested substantial amounts of scarce public funds in individuals’ education and training, but do not receive “return” on the investment since the individual does not work in the country. This hurts Zimbabwe’s economic development and can stunt their GDP. Therefore, Canada does not have to pay for any of the education costs for these educated immigrants and they benefit while Zimbabwe struggles.[3]

Some argue, such as Sinclair, that Canada should compensate Zimbabwe for the cost of education and training of the workers. Sinclair states that Canada encourages and facilitates immigration of skilled individuals into Canada, therefore some say Canada is partly to blame for the Brain Drain. This means that Zimbabwe is losing money and resources to train individuals that move to Canada. Calculating compensation is extremely difficult due to three obstacles: determining the level(s) of education incorporated in the cost, determining the amount of public funds spent on an individual’s education, and the measurement for valuing the societal “return” of the investment in education. It is difficult to measure how many years of education should be compensated for and there is the question of if the number should vary for different genders.[3]

Zimbabwean Policy Option

The Government of Zimbabwe is in the process of developing the National Diaspora Policy which “seeks to provide a comprehensive framework for harnessing the contribution of Zimbabwean diaspora as well as the protection of the Zimbabweans outside the country." The Ministry of Macro Economic Planning and the Investment Promotion is leading the development of the policy.[4]

The International Organization for Migration estimates that between 500,000 and 3 million Zimbabweans are residing outside the country, and in 2014 diaspora Zimbabweans sent remittances valuing over US$1.8 billion; these remittances account for 15% of Zimbabwe’s GDP. There is a growing recognition that “diaspora resources can be leveraged to facilitate increased trade, investment, technology, skills, and cultural linkage between different countries.” As well, policy can also help realize the potential of the diaspora by facilitating the transfer of diaspora resources and mobility, and enhance social inclusion and integration of communities to allow diaspora members reach their full potential.[4]

Canada's Immigration Policy

Canada determines whether to allow an immigrant to come into the country based on three main categories: economic, family reunification, and refugee status for a person. The economic category represents the largest portion of immigrants each year. Canada has point system to decide whether an immigrant is chosen to enter, and applicants are rewarded with points if they received higher education, job experience, and have a high skill level with languages. Economic development is important to a country, therefore Canada values skilled immigrants. Family reunification of immigrants including spouses, children, and extended family in Canada is also considered for an applicant’s entry; this is the second- largest group of immigrants admitted on a yearly basis. Thirdly, refugees admitted into Canada represent the smallest group of immigrants every year; this category includes humanitarian resettlement programs and claims for asylum protection. “Between 1990 and 2002, 49% of immigrants to Canada were from the economic class, 34% were from the family reunification category, and 13% were humanitarian cases.” Canada provides language training, as well as national health care and social welfare to immigrants, which helps them settle into the new country.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Statistics Canada. "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables". Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Crush, Jonathan, et al. “Heading North: The Zimbabwean Diaspora in Canada.” The Southern African Migration Programme, 2012, samponline.org/wpcontent/uploads/2016/10/Acrobat62.pdf.
  3. ^ a b Sinclair, M. (1979). The Brain Drain from Zimbabwe to Canada: The Issue of Compensation Payments. Issue: A Journal of Opinion, 9(4), 41-43. doi:10.2307/1166905.
  4. ^ a b IOM Zimbabwe 2015 Annual Report. International Organization for Migration, 2015, IOM Zimbabwe 2015 Annual Report.
  5. ^ Smick, Elisabeth. “Canada's Immigration Policy.” Canada's Immigration Policy, Council on Foreign Relations, July 2006, www.cfr.org/backgrounder/canadas-immigration-policy.