During Summer 2010, the KIP conducted a short online and paper-based survey of newcomers in Kingston, focusing on satisfaction with different aspects of immigrating to the city. The survey was promoted through ISKA, LINC classes at Kingston Literacy and KEYS Community Employment Centre, and by word-of-mouth.
30 newcomers completed the survey. 73% of the respondents were female, and half of the participants were under the age of 35. 3 participants chose to fill out the French version of the survey.
On average, the survey respondents have lived in Canada for 2 years and in Kingston for 18 months. Approximately half immigrated to Kingston directly, while the other half lived elsewhere in Canada first: the majority of those newcomers last lived in the Greater Toronto Area or Montreal. Looking at country of origin, more than 50% of participants were born in Asia (including the Middle East), while the remainder was divided between Europe, Africa, North America, and Central and South America.
Arrival and Leaving
Before arrival and during their first few months in Kingston, most participants found information through friends and family members, from ISKA, and through websites such as the City of Kingston’s Newcomers Web Portal.
When asked why they chose to settle in Kingston, family reasons were commonly cited, both moving with family coming to Kingston for other reasons (40% of respondents had a family member studying at a local post-secondary institute) or moving to join a family member or close friend already living here. The quality of life in Kingston was also cited as an attracting feature.
40% of participants indicated that it was “Very Likely” or “Somewhat Likely” that they would move away from Kingston in the next five years, most likely to another city in Ontario. The main anticipated reasons for moving were related to employment, including lack of job opportunities for the participant or a family member, or following a family member moving for work reasons.
Satisfaction with Life in Kingston
In the main part of the survey, newcomers were asked to rate their satisfaction with different aspects of life in Kingston using a 7-point scale, where “1” equaled “Very Unsatisfied” and 7 “Very Satisfied”. Overall, participants were moderately satisfied, with an average of “4” across all questions.
Looking at the different types of questions, newcomers were most satisfied with schools (primary and secondary) and community living. In particular, participants with school-age children were very satisfied with the quality of education, overall school quality, and their relationship with teachers. Participants also indicated satisfaction with Kingston’s parks, green spaces, and entertainment options.
In terms of health, participants were satisfied with some aspects of the health care system and dissatisfied with others. Respondents indicated that health care providers were generally friendly, and also reported relatively short wait-times for finding a family physician (averaging under six months). However, participants were not satisfied with wait times for medical care, or the cost of medicine or dental care. Although over 80% of the respondents had a family doctor, just over a third had a family dentist.
Transportation was also noted as an area for improvement, particularly around cost, frequency, and coverage. In the comment section, one participant noted the lack of facilities in the city for cyclists.
Just under a third of participants were employed at the time of the survey, taking 6 months on average to find work. Of that group, most reported moderate levels of satisfaction with their employment experiences, including pay, benefits, and relationships with co-workers. Two-thirds of those employed were working at pay and responsibility levels they expected to find in Canada.
Over half of the participants reported feeling uncomfortable at times in Kingston due to personal characteristics such as differences in language, ethnicity, or religion. No participant reported being a frequent target of racism or discrimination; however, 40% of the survey respondents said that they sometimes faced these issues.