John Ruffolo, CEO of OMERS Ventures

The Chief Executive Officer of one of Canada’s leading pension funds has recommended that Canada more than triples its existing levels of immigration over the coming years. John Ruffolo, CEO of OMERS Ventures, the venture arm of OMERS, one of Canada's leading pension funds, says that innovation and talent acquisition can solve Canada’s growth dilemma. Ruffolo also serves as vice-chair of the Council of Canadian Innovators.

“Canada needs a robust national access-to-talent strategy. We should increase immigration. By 2025, 30 per cent of our population will be 60 and older – to mitigate this imbalance, Canada would need to increase immigration for each of the next five years to one million people,” wrote Ruffolo in the Globe and Mail, Canada's most widely-read newspaper on weekdays and Saturdays. Ruffolo's article appeared in the newspaper's Business section on Thursday, August 18.

“If we focus this intake on skilled newcomers between the ages of 20 and 39, it would shift our overall proportion of that band from 25 per cent to 32 per cent of the population. Without such a strategy, Canada may face stark choices: tax increases, greater national debt or scaled-back social programs."

Ruffolo added that, “Some people might call this plan bold. But I hesitate to say that, because scaling up Canada’s economy through immigration is an old idea. From 1901 to 1911, our country’s population increased from 5.4 million to about 7.2 million, with immigration accounting for the entire net increase. That’s a 33-per-cent increase. By comparison, a goal of one million people for each of the next five years is comparatively modest – 41 million people represent a population increase of just 14 per cent.

“The initiative needs to be phased in carefully, utilizing our internationally recognized due diligence and screening processes to align with our labour needs. We must move from a passive intake system to one where we actively recruit more people who can succeed and help increase our capacity for innovation and productivity. This includes new science grads, skilled tradespeople and investors with capital.”

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, John McCallum, has gone on the record regarding his desire to increase the number of people immigrating to Canada. It is expected that the government of Canada will unveil a new immigration plan this September, in which more concrete proposals and objectives will be outlined.

To read the full Globe and Mail article, click here.

 

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