2022 Annual Report on Immigration, 2023-25 Levels Plan: “The More the Merrier”

The annual report, looking back, and the levels plan, looking forward, are narrowly focused on immigration and largely silent on the impacts of increased immigration, beyond generalities on demographics and filling labour market needs. No real surprises as the government’s intentions had either been announced or signalled in advance for both permanent and temporary migration.

There is no discussion of the impacts on housing, healthcare, infrastructure, the environment among others.

Some of the more interesting articles on the report and plan are below.

There is no discussion of the impacts on housing, healthcare, infrastructure, the environment among others.

In general, the government gets a pass on these omissions from the opposition, provincial governments (save Quebec), the Century Initiative, business and other stakeholders, settlement organization and media coverage. The report and plan came out the same day as the latest Focus Canada survey, showing ongoing and increasing support for immigration.

Media commentaries that exemplify this include John Ibbitson: Immigrants are the great insulators against the worst economic and political threats we face and Andrew Phillips’ Record immigration is a yawn in Canada, and that’s a good thing.

An odd analysis argued that How Canada’s new immigration targets will help housing recover — and push prices higher long-term. Is the objective to help housing recover or to make housing more affordable? High immigration hampers affordability.

Others were positive but former Liberal Minister from the Chrétien years, Canada bucks global trend on increasing immigration targets,  flagged the government’s poor record in delivery with high backlogs.

The Globe did a good deep dive into temporary workers, How Canada became a hotbed for low-wage foreign labour, highlighted the misplaced changes that made it easier for businesses to hire low-wage labour, including by expanding the amount of time international students could work rather than study, a mockery of the education objectives.

More negative commentaries included Annan Khan’s Increasing our population intake will not address the cynicism guiding Canada’s immigration policy. True, but self-interested immigration policy that priorizes economic immigration has greater public support than more altruistic alternatives favouring refugees.alternative of rebalancing in favour of refugees.

Rupa Subramanya’s Come One, Come All cites a number of statistics that highlight relatively poor outcomes for recent immigrants and posits that high levels are at least in part driven by political motives given that Liberals have traditionally done well with immigrant origin voters. IMO, largely obsolete as the Conservatives under Harper did the hard work of engaging new Canadians, only to blow it with citizenship revocation and the “barbaric cultural practices” tip line.

Colby Cosh’s High on Immigration similarly picks up on Subramanya’s points on economic outcomes and argues that the net effect on housing prices employers who are over-represented by “old-stock” Canadians.

Andrew MacDougall’s focus on the politics, Liberals’ immigration policy could set a trap for Pierre Poilievre, highlights the risks that the Liberals are making immigration a wedge issue, a likely reason that successive Conservative immigration critics have focused their critiques on administrative issues (backlogs etc) and Roxham Road irregular arrivals.

My sense is that the Conservatives are well aware of the need to engage immigrant-origin and visible minority voters, given the large number of ridings with large numbers of these voters, plus his personal biography (e.g., marriage to a Venezuelan immigrant) mean that it will be hard to paint him as anti-immigration unless he or high profile candidates misstep.

Even the generally “Trudeau derangement syndrome” outlet “True” North’s reporting on the immigration levels plan has been neutral and factual. The Toronto Sun was favourable to the plan, EDITORIAL: Rolling out a careful welcome mat, but flagged infrastructure needs to ensure successful integration.

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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