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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Resiliency in housing and transportation choices : the experiences of Filipino immigrants in Toronto Thomas, Ren


This dissertation presents a mixed-methods case study of the housing and transportation choices of Filipino immigrants in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area. Through the examination of this distinctive case, the study illustrates how structural changes in housing policy, immigration policy, transportation infrastructure, and the labour market have impacted immigrants’ choices over time. Considering the impact of immigration on housing and transportation infrastructure in Canadian municipalities, this case could have impacts on growth management policies advocating the development of sustainable communities. Many Canadian cities integrate housing and transportation infrastructure in official plans and policies. Using Census data, a Principal Components Analysis, and interviews with Filipino immigrants who arrived from the 1960s to the 2000s, the research shows that major increases in immigration, changes in the structure of the labour market, and changes in housing policy resulting in less rental and affordable housing have impacted Filipino immigrants’ housing and transportation choices. Participants’ histories in the Philippines revealed a high level of renting and transit use, which influenced their choices in Canada. The role of social networks in providing initial housing, advice on neighbourhoods and housing types, and guidance on the public transit and vehicle licensing systems was also significant. Overall, Filipino immigrants displayed considerable practicality in choosing housing types and tenures that met their needs. They often chose housing that was close to public transit, their workplaces, children’s schools, churches, shops and services. Their ability to weigh alternatives and costs and choose the most appropriate option for their particular situation contributed to the resiliency of this group and resulted in some sustainable choices. All of these factors have contributed to much higher rental rates and transit ridership among Filipino immigrants than other immigrant groups or non-immigrants. The resiliency strategy used by Filipino immigrants serves as a reminder that the most practical choices are often the most sustainable. In the context of precarious labour markets, economic instability, and the uncertainty of policy initiatives supporting public transit and affordable housing in Canadian municipalities, resiliency in housing and transportation choices becomes important.

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