Ottawa’s new immigration targets: Good for special interests: Collacott

Martin Collacott outlines the case against increased immigration. While I disagree with a number of the arguments he used, I do agree with his conclusion that Canada needs “a comprehensive, balanced and informed discussion on what kind of immigration policy can best serve the interests of Canadians overall:”

The government’s rationale for increasing immigration levels is based on a number of other false premises.

One is the claim that Canada needs to bring in large numbers of workers from outside the country when in fact we aren’t facing major labour shortages that only immigration or temporary foreign workers can mitigate. Although gaps in the availability of labour will almost certainly occur from time to time and in various parts of the country, most of these can be dealt with domestically by allowing wages to increase. Research indicates that we should only have to resort to bringing in workers from abroad (either permanent or temporary) on relatively rare occasions since Canada already has the human, as well as educational and training, resources required to meet most of its labour needs.

Related to this is the myth propagated by the government that immigration is necessary to provide workers needed to pay the taxes required to fund services for the growing percentage of older Canadians. While there is no question that Canada is facing a number of problems related to having a larger proportion of seniors, it has been demonstrated definitively that immigration doesn’t provide any sort of practical solution to these problems since immigrants grow old like everyone else and have a negligible impact on the average age of Canadians. We would have to bring in hundreds of millions of immigrants for this to change.

Yet another area of concern should be the environmental impact of a large population increase both within Canada and globally when one considers the much larger ecological footprint newcomers will have here than in the countries most come from.

The Liberal government nevertheless plans to increase immigration levels substantially in the next three years. Some provincial governments welcome this as a way to counter population stagnation and decline. The fact is, however, that in regions where this is a problem it’s happening largely because of a lack of economic opportunities that results in workers moving to other parts of Canada. While more than a few newcomers avail themselves of the chance to get into Canada through welcoming provincial immigration programs, many waste no time in moving on to already overcrowded cities such as Toronto and Vancouver in their quest for employment.

Most residents of these cities, moreover, aren’t enthusiastic about the large-scale influx. While those who have owned real estate for some time obviously benefit from an increase in property values, most younger buyers in these cities are priced-out of a market driven by a rapidly growing population and money flowing in from abroad. Expensive housing brought about to a large extent by high levels of immigration could well be a factor in the decision of many couples to have fewer children.

Clearly the government’s new plan will not work in the interests of most Canadians and particularly those who live in big cities that attract large numbers of immigrants. The immigration targets serve in particular the interests of the Liberal Party of Canada, which hopes that most newcomers will vote for it. Related to this is the recent legislation that has lowered and cheapened citizenship requirements. The NDP isn’t far behind in advocating policies designed to attract immigrant support rather than benefit Canadians in general, while the Conservatives for their part have had relatively little to say about major problems associated with the plan.

The main beneficiaries apart from the Liberals will be those who profit economically such as the real estate industry, employers seeking a larger supply of cheap labour and immigrant communities looking to enlarge their size and influence as well as receive increased funding for settlement programs. The principal losers will be Canadian taxpayers and workers in general.

While Canada has benefited at times in the past from large-scale immigration, the present isn’t one of them. What the country needs today is a comprehensive, balanced and informed discussion on what kind of immigration policy can best serve the interests of Canadians overall. It isn’t likely to get this from the current government.

via Ottawa’s new immigration targets: Good for special interests | Vancouver Sun

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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