Canada: Many Israelis live below poverty line
Some 13,000 Israelis emigrated to Canada in 2000, making it the highest destination for those leaving the country, but their situation is far from good: 14.5 percent live below the poverty line, and 60 percent earn less than the average wage; hundreds returning to Israel every year
Since 2000, around 13,000 Israelis emigrated to Canada, according to a document by the Israeli Home organization in Toronto, run by David Gidron.
In the last three years, around 7,800 Israelis emigrated to Canada, an all-time record. The Absorption Ministry says that Canada has turned into the most preferred destination by Israelis due to its easy immigration rules, compared to the severe procedures for immigration to the United States.
According to Gidron, since 1948, 65,000 Israelis emigrated to Canada.
Most Israelis who arrived in Canada, some 50,000, relocated to Toronto, and now form a quarter of the city's 200,000-strong Jewish population.
It is believed that around 15 – 20,000 of the Israeli immigrants to Canada came from the Soviet Union, from which they emigrated to Israel, before arriving in Canada.
Figures from Israeli Home show that 14.5 percent of the immigrants live beneath the poverty line, and 60 percent earn less than the average salary: 40,000 Canadian dollars a year.
'I am very sorry for Israelis who chose to leave'
In addition, the Israeli emigrants feel distant from the Jewish community and have trouble merging into it.
According to Gidron, there is a large cultural gap between the two communities: The Israelis are not aware of their Jewish community and do not educate their children as Jews. Their children do not study at Jewish schools, which are thought of as relatively expensive (10,000 Canadian dollars a year), choosing instead to send their children to public schools.
The Absorption Ministry is encouraged by figures showing a return of Israelis who left for Canada. In the last three years, 600 – 700 Israelis have returned every year. The reason: Reports that the employment and security situation in Israel has improved.
Mirla Gal, Director General of the Absorption Ministry, said: "I am very sorry for the Israelis who chose to leave, but from these figures, it is clear that the neighbor's grass is not necessarily better. Here in Israel, we have home grass."
Article first published in Israel’s leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth