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Economic Life

From: The Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples/Malaysians-singaporeans/Judith Nagata

The overwhelming presence of ethnic Chinese among Canada’s Malaysians is largely a response to the limited professional and educational opportunities open to them in Malaysia. In fact, as many as 20 percent of these immigrants have already worked in another Western country or in Singapore before coming to Canada, and many are willing to move again if necessary. In view of their English-language proficiency and technical expertise, they encounter few problems in economic integration. The gender ratio is approximately equal, and most women, single and married, are employed full-time. Many of the women who arrived in the late 1960s and early 1970s were nurses, but today the occupational range covers the professions, business, technical services, and the civil service, as well as semi-skilled trades.

Many Malaysians and Singaporeans are employed by non-Chinese Canadian companies or in the public sector, including universities; they also figure prominently among medical doctors, accountants, engineers, and architects. Approximately one-third are self-employed and have entered Canada under that category or as entrepreneurs. Most of their businesses are urban-based and often have a highly technical focus, such as computers or chemical and engineering products. Indians from Malaysia and Singapore show similar occupational characteristics, but those in small business are more often involved in the retail trade or motels. Most Malays in Canada are students or in trade missions or the diplomatic service. The Malaysian-Singaporean community as a whole is situated firmly within the middle or upper middle class, city-based, and relatively prosperous.