It’s time to grow the country

February 4th, 2016

Next year Canada will celebrate its 150th birthday, and, as we enter what is hopefully a positive new era with a new federal government, we have the opportunity to grow the country.

Over recent years, Canada’s annual rate of immigration has been around 250,000 new permanent residents per year. This represents comfortably less than one percent of the total population year-on-year. In order to ensure that Canada can take its rightful place as a serious player on the global stage, it needs to grow its population in a managed, thought-out, and sustainable manner that benefits newcomers and Canadians alike.

Alas, a country where more than 70 percent of permanent newcomers settle in three cities — Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver — is a country that cannot truly grow or maximize its potential. Not only are we not quite getting enough people, but those that are coming continue to settle in our largest cities, to the detriment of smaller cities, towns, and communities across Canada.

This point was recently driven home by former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna, who last month wrote in the Globe and Mail that Ottawa should require a portion of new immigrants to live in Atlantic Canada, where the median age is now eight years older than in Alberta.  A country that has regions in which the median age is coming up on a decade more than that which exists in other regions is a country that has a severe imbalance.

So how can we optimize economic immigration so that Canada, the country, benefits, rather than solely its largest cities?

If we are to retain a points-based system — and I believe we should — we should be thinking not just about the immediate consequences of individuals and families settling in Canada, but also how they will fare over years and generations.

Families bringing dependent children should benefit. These children ultimately enter the Canadian work force at the beginning of their careers, providing much-needed labour and creativity, while also enlarging the tax base.

Further, applicants with family already in Canada as permanent residents or citizens should also benefit. There should not be any affidavits of support or other hoops to jump through. If you have an immediate family member residing permanently in Canada for at least a year, you get points. This currently happens for Federal Skilled Worker eligibility, but should also be the case within the Comprehensive Ranking System.

As for employment, it is of course preferable if newcomers have a job on arrival, but it should not be the be-all and end-all. Newcomers with highly defined skill sets may have a job on arrival, but the whim of the market may result in them being out of a job not long after. Should we really go all-in on one job offer over the potential of an applicant during the course of his or her career?

The existence of something akin to an area of training list, which already exists in the Quebec immigration system, would provide an indication to candidates as to which professionals Canada needs and who is most likely to immigrate successfully. In being able to create and change the list on an ongoing basis, the government of Canada would have an increased role in adjusting the number of immigrants received in different occupations.

The other problem with placing so much emphasis on one job offer is that Canada, a vast country, will always have certain regions that are, at a given moment, more economically robust than others. This creates a rush towards those regions, which only serves to exacerbate the demographic and economic disparity between regions that I have already outlined.

Canada has an incredible opportunity to replenish and enliven its struggling regions, and believe me, there are many of them. If we can do that while also providing an up-front, clear, and fair immigration system to candidates, while also incentivizing employers and provinces to engage more deeply and consistently at the federal level, there is no limit to what we may be able to achieve.

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9 Responses to “It’s time to grow the country”

  • On February 5th, 2016, Dinesh said ...

    Thanks for blogging. ..I’m a nuclear medicine physician working in India. ..I was curious about my chances. ..Regards

  • On February 5th, 2016, Shylon said ...

    Thanks, but I think point based system is not perfect, for example, a person willing to immigrate to Canada for a better life, he is a talented person and worked as a freelancer, never had Full-Time-paid job but always freelancer and had managed his or her life so far, but the immigration system of Canada do not accept freelancers who might have job offer from Canadian employer, because he or she doe not have Full Time Paid (or part time equivalent) work experience (seems at least 1 year), also some country have very lower wages compare to Canadian wages and taxes, in case of his or her bank account information should be presents to show that he or she can comes to Canada. This system should be revised,
    for someone like me, I really accpet/like to work in low population cities, but that system of immigration! i do not think possible.

  • On February 8th, 2016, Anonymous said ...

    I believe immigration system tem need some changes in a way people who already living here and have been working hard with clear record should be giving them chance to sponsor their relatives like sister, brother, niece or nephews like years back until 2002 that people could sponsor their relatives. But now only parents and grandparents or siblings under 18. Or you don’t have anyone here then you can sponsor one of your relatives. Thanks for understanding that how it has been hard for example for my only one child does not have any cusin around him or any other close relatives.

  • On February 17th, 2016, Anonymous said ...

    A fair system for one is an unfair system for the other.
    On one thing many people agree these days; This system is much much to complicated and outdated.
    For example:
    There are many rich people who want to retire in Canada, totaly self supporting, enjoying and respecting live, human and canadian nature. Impossible.
    These people bring money to the country. Spending much more than the average person into the (local) economy boosting the country.
    They do not need the Canadian haealthcare system, they are selfsuporting and paying it themselves.
    There should be a special kind of PR card for these category of people with the right to live in Canada but no right on the healthcare system etc.
    Difficult? No not at all, The Canadian goverment is only thinking from there own prospective, There are several country’s on this globe, like Switserland, were this is much more of this time.

  • On February 17th, 2016, Cooper said ...

    All the listed points about the mix of immigrants don’t mention the MULTICULTURALISM aspect of our country. Not only people gather in the cities, but some cultures not only don’t integrate but TAKE OVER A WHOLE TOWN, CITY, REGION. The example is RICHMOND, or RICHIN.
    As for the ability of OTHERS to be rich enough to AFFORD a home there, most will stay out of the picture.
    Language ability and the willingness to learn ours, although MANDATORY, has been waived with our previous ruler, on the ground that they are bringing wealth here. Well, major backfiring. Not only they don’t PAY ANY INCOM TAXES, but they make Canadians have to move due to unaffordable property taxes.
    As for bringing in kids, in order to be even here too, ONLY CULTURES WHO BREED SMARTLY should be considered, or the cultural imbalance will only be increasing. If Europeans limit their reproduction rate to 2 due to economics, still India, and China, out of its controlled pop rule, who makes it ONE A YEAR and not PER COUPLE.
    IT MAKES CANADIANS, including seniors, SUBSIDIZE the filthy rich newcomers’ kids by financing schools for them.
    Let’s hope all those FREE MONIES announced don’t include those foreigners, living in monster houses.

  • On February 18th, 2016, Rosie said ...

    I agree, a lot of Canadians complain that Canadians have be look after first, but they refuse to do any skill work because there is no advantage ment. That is why government should into making it easier once again to hire skill workers overseas. Canadians refuse it, and manufactures bond to leave because no workers, making all us lose jobs. Instead allow them to hire oversea once again, it create more jobs for Canadians. All benefit.

  • On February 18th, 2016, Marina said ...

    It is hard to understand how the government website which has caused my and who come to Canada when he was12 years and completed high school and then went on to become a redseal journeyman automotive techinen but was never told he could get a post graduate work permit and he had to leave canada with his wife who is from Sweden she was a lone cook and applied for her permanent residents but never got any correspondent from CIC as to her application so when there two Canadian born children got sick and needed to go to the hospital and a few weeks later got Alberta health care bills for thousands of as mum and dads status had run out and was waiting for an extension of stay they had no choice but to leave canada and now are finding it all most impossible to get back to Canada where the rest of the family is how is this even far

  • On February 20th, 2016, Manisha said ...

    Indeed, I also think that the comprehensive system should cater differently for families with dependent children.

  • On February 20th, 2016, Anonymous said ...

    This is a great article. How open are employers at contracting somebody with a PR, but yet to land?

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