When most people think of diversity in a city they tend to picture high populated major cities such as Toronto, Vancouver or Calgary. But you should actually be picturing the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray.

Fort McMurray is one of the most diverse cities in the country. There are more than 80 languages spoken in the region, and according to statistics Canada 21 per cent of residents are immigrants and 26 per cent are visible minorities. These numbers are probably much larger as the ‘short-term commuter workforce’ is not counted.

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This is something that is celebrated by local residents and Alberta, but there is a disturbing trend in Fort McMurray that is reflecting a wider problem across Canada.

A recent study by statistics Canada has found that the income gap between visible minorities, Indigenous or recent immigrants and the rest of Canada remains large, with the gap only narrowing by 2 per cent for Indigenous and recent immigrants and widening by 1 per cent for visible minorities between 2006 to 2016.

In Fort McMurray, visible minorities had a median income of $50,735, while non-visible minorities had a median income of $106,696. First Nations individuals had a median income of $46,925.

Experts pointed out that labour reform, including more access to unionization, is key. In Alberta alone, immigrants earned $3.49/hour more with a union, and Aboriginal workers earned $8.47/hour more.

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Not only are you going to get a fair wage with a union, you also know you have someone to stand up to discrimination in the workplace.

Making sure that this gap is made smaller is not just important to visible minorities and Indigenous workers, but also to all Canadians.

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