Canada’s Minister of Immigration, John McCallum, has said that the government of Canada hopes to bring even more newcomers to Canada, but as housing prices skyrocket in Vancouver and Toronto his government hopes to lure them to other locations. Minister McCallum also cited labour market shortages and aging populations as further reasons to populate certain regions.
“We would like to spread the immigrants across the country relatively evenly. The last thing we want is that every immigrant either goes to Toronto or Vancouver,” said McCallum this week at after a roundtable discussion with stakeholders in Vancouver, British Columbia.
"There's a significant feeling that Canada does need more immigrants, partly because we have an aging population, and so we need more young blood to keep our economies going."
However, he acknowledged there are limits to the government’s ability to disperse migrants, as once people become permanent residents they have a right to move wherever they want under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"That is against the Constitution of Canada. If they are permanent residents, we cannot require them to stay anywhere. They have the right to live anywhere in Canada they wish to live."
McCallum pointed out immigrants, workers and students from China as a particular case. The Minister has just returned from an official visit to China and Southeast Asia, during which he made public the government’s aim to increase the number of visa offices in China in an effort to open more doors for Chinese students, workers and tourists.
"It's the biggest market in the world and they [Chinese visitors] spend a lot of money," said McCallum.
The immigration minister’s trip to Beijing comes in advance of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to China for the G20 summit in September.
Mr. McCallum added that the government has not yet made a decision on how many immigrants it will propose for 2017, though he has made clear his desire to increase the overall number. The government is expected to announce an overall target number for 2017 this coming September, along with figures for 2018 and 2019.