Theses Doctoral

New Immigrants' Use of Four Social Service Agencies in a Canadian Metropolis

Nair, Murali Dharan

Relatively little is known about immigrants' use of social service agencies that are set up to help them. The purpose of this study is to examine the new immigrant's use of social service agencies in a metropolitan city in Canada.

Five hypotheses have been developed in relation to the two basic subsystems under study. The dependent variable is the new immigrant's use of social agencies; and the antecedent variables are derived from the characteristics of immigrants. The hypotheses, which this study tests, were derived from a review of the relevant literature in the field of immigration, the history of social services to new immigrants in Canada, and the present structure of social services to new immigrants to Canada, and are backed by the general characteristics of new immigrants.

The study population were immigrants who had come to Toronto less than two years before. Immigrants were divided into (1) those who sought assistance from social service agencies and (b) those who did not. A quota sampling method was used to select immigrants. Fifty immigrants were selected from each of two public social service agencies and fifty from each of two private agencies - agencies that had been set up primarily to provide services to new immigrants. To these 200 cases were added 75 immigrants who had never been to an agency for assistance; they were selected from the membership lists of ten immigrant associations. The author administered the open-ended questionnaire personally in all the 275 interviews with the immigrants. In cases where immigrants could not communicate in even a little English interpreters were used, except where the author himself spoke the immigrant's language. The first 200 immigrants were interviewed at the four different social service agencies; the 75 non-users of agencies were interviewed at their homes.

Tabulation of the data shows an equal number of immigrants in the sample who came from the developing countries (53%) and from the industrialized countries (47%). Half of the people in the sample had no relatives or friends in Toronto, while the other half had at least one close relative or friend who was in Toronto before the new immigrant's arrival. Fifty-six per cent had college-level education; the rest less. Sixty-three per cent of them were employed before they immigrated, while 37 per cent were not employed.

The following hypotheses were tested by this study:

(1) Immigrants who are aware of social agencies in their home countries tend to feel comfortable in using agencies in the new country also.

- Supported by the data.

(2) When new immigrants make use of the network of available social services, they will use those which are closest to their own cultural and language orientation.

- Supported by the data.

(3) The new immigrant who has a professional background and/or
English language skill uses social services more often than others.

- Supported by the data.

(4) Relative to immigrants from industrialized countries, immigrants from developing countries use social services less.

- Supported by the data.

(5) Dependent immigrants (who have relatives in the new country) make use of social service agencies more often than the independent immigrants (who have no relatives in the new country).

- The study found, on the contrary, that independent immigrants use social service agencies more than dependent immigrants do.

The study findings suggest the importance of finding a method by which the immigrant can be brought to the appropriate service by the shortest, most direct route without a frustrating waste of time, energy and skill. The study recommends setting up access services at neighborhood levels, in order to meet the changing needs of new immigrants in metropolitan Toronto.

Geographic Areas


More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Kahn, Alfred
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 26, 2015