Feds should reboot cash-for-residence immigration program: Colin Singer

I am never sure whether to take these arguments – follow Austria, Malta and Cyprus models – seriously, or is it simply a way for immigration lawyers to expand their potential business? Singer made the same arguments at the Conference Board Immigration Summit this April.

CIC/IRCC’s study on the former business investor immigrant program was clear on the lack of benefits to Canada; there have been enough studies on the Quebec program showing that most leave Quebec for British Columbia (Study reveals awfulness of Canadian investor immigration; income tax averages C$1,400 per millionaire | South China Morning Post).

Factor in the debates over housing prices in Toronto and Vancouver, and the impact that overseas investors are having on the housing market, hard to see how expansion would benefit the broader Canadian economy or society:

The way out of this morass is clear. The Trudeau government should immediately get on with the task of redesigning the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program. It just needs to create the right policies and a restructured program that will succeed in attracting carefully chosen high-net-worth businesspeople who will bring billions of dollars to Canadian businesses and create new businesses that will in turn create more jobs.

The benefits of the Quebec immigrant investor program to that province are undeniable. From 2001 to 2016, it gave $714 million to 4,737 businesses in 17 territories in the province. As well, a compelling 2010 study conducted by three economists in Ontario and Quebec concluded that an average immigrant investor family directly injects more than $770,000 into the economy.

Additionally, a recent Statistics Canada report on immigration and business ownership in Canada, the first of its kind, confirms that immigrants are more likely than Canadians to establish businesses.

Ottawa should also consider establishing a citizenship-through-investment program for ultra-high-net-worth individuals and become a dominant top-tier country in the citizenship-through-investment arena.

Currently Austria, Malta, and Cyprus are the only top-tier countries offering a direct path to citizenship while Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia also offer such programs.

In pursuing this new policy initiative, Canada would be in a position to attract the world’s most successful ultra-high-net-worth businesspeople along with their families and, by extension, their business networks. This could prove highly lucrative and provide Canada with a large inflow of cash, which it badly needs.

If executed strategically, Canada would also realize significant gains to its human capital in the immediate term and, through the children of such businesspeople, in the long term. The human capital benefit that the children of successful businesspeople bring to Canada is immeasurable and invaluable.

How beneficial can a new federal residency and citizenship program be? This year, some 5,000 newcomers will be admitted under the Quebec program alone, which has been selecting its own business investor immigrants since 1986. Under a revised federal immigrant investors’ program, Ottawa would likely account for more than 70 per cent of the market, a position it held at the peak of its popularity in 2010. In doing so, British Columbia and Ontario would then benefit from their share of Ottawa’s transfer payments as the two provinces would become the default choice for the overwhelming majority of applicants applying under the Quebec program.

Together with Quebec, Canada could again become a dominant player in the international residency-through-investment industry and perhaps match or surpass the popularity of the EB-5 program in the United States, which admits 10,000 business immigrants annually.

If Canada is to return to the forefront of the business immigration field, it must replicate a modified format of the Quebec program and other successful international programs by installing a well-devised, targeted model that creates a capital fund for Canadian businesses and attracts the right calibre of applicants on the basis of clear policy objectives featuring program integrity, international competitiveness, processing cost efficiency, and fast processing.

The federal Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program is dead but the need for high-net-worth business immigrants to Canada is not. The substantial financial benefits to Canada, a welcome advantage in the face of our current economic difficulties, could well be surpassed by the undeniable human capital benefits it would receive from the world’s most innovative and wealthiest businesspeople and their families who would choose to live in Canada.

Additionally, Canada could take the lead on the global stage by creating an international charitable fund for refugees from a portion of the proceeds of investment inflow. In doing so, it would help ensure that the world’s wealthiest are directly assisting the world’s immigrant population who are most affected by international conflicts. This is one of the hallmarks of effective immigration policy.

Source: Feds should reboot cash-for-residence immigration program |

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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