Sabrina Maddeaux: Liberals bring in influx of immigrants without a plan to support them

Yet another commentary questioning the impact of high immigration levels on housing, healthcare, infrastructure etc.

But Maddeaux is silent on the “complicity” of provincial governments who are responsible for addressing many of the externalities and costs, the business community in pushing for high levels of both permanent and temporary residents, and the various stakeholders supporting the increased and increasing levels:

The federal Liberals are well on their way to meeting at least one of their marquee goals: 500,000 new immigrants per year by 2025. The stats for 2022 just came in, and last year saw a record 431,645 new permanent residents.

That’s a 6.4 per cent increase over 2021 — and this year aims to admit 465,000 new residents, which will be another 7.7 per cent increase over 2022. These numbers don’t include temporary foreign workers or international students, which are also rising at record rates.

This sort of rapid swell isn’t just historic for Canada, it makes us the fastest-growing country in the G7. This would be great news, if not for the fact that we’re also among the least equipped to accept a mass influx of new people.

To put those earlier numbers in context, the population of Halifax is about 440,000. Quebec City’s is around 550,000. We are, or soon will be, adding the equivalent population of one of those cities each year.

Diversity is a pride point for many Canadians, and we’re undoubtedly a stronger and better country thanks to immigrants’ many contributions over the decades. However, this doesn’t mean we should blindly open the floodgates to hundreds of thousands more per year, when there’s scant evidence we can support them.

As much as we may want to welcome more immigrants into the fold, there needs to be a debate about whether now is the best time to boost targets. We may find that, until we get our house in order, the risks outweigh the potential rewards.

Immigration isn’t inherently good for a country, or even for immigrants, in and of itself. Positive outcomes for all parties require careful planning and a sense of realism. Unfortunately, it appears the Liberals have neither.

Our health-care system ranks poorly against peer countries and seems to be only getting worse. We can barely even care for sick children in our major urban centres, let alone rural areas. Family doctors are practically the new Polkaroo.

Our housing situation is dismal. We don’t have enough homes, and the ones we do have are exorbitantly expensive and out of reach for all but the very wealthiest young Canadians and newcomers.

It seems like we have shortages of every type of basic infrastructure and service, from transit to schools and childcare spots.

International students are frequenting food banks, living in crowded and often unsanitary rooming houses and even driving five hours –– each way –– to attend classes.

Many immigrants still can’t work in their trained fields because we haven’t taken the time to sort our credentialing systems. Despite just about everyone agreeing that foreign-trained doctors shouldn’t be driving taxi cabs, it always seems to be a problem for another day.

Meanwhile, Liberals argue that we need more newcomers to boost our economy and address labour shortages. Not only does this seem callous and exploitative in light of our inability to provide for needs like housing and health care, there’s little evidence our current immigration system can produce these desired outcomes.

At a certain point, we will get diminishing returns. While more immigrants mean more tax dollars, we don’t get to just take from them without giving anything back. They, too, require doctors, affordable homes, schools and passports in a timely manner. They use subways and parks and, eventually, long-term care homes.

By failing to invest heavily in infrastructure and government services, the Liberals are exacerbating resource scarcity and intensifying competition for fundamental goods and services.

Historically, this never ends well. Eventually, people look for someone to blame for their declining quality of life, and that group tends to be newcomers.

To be clear, such scarcity isn’t the fault of immigrants. It’s the fault of governments that either failed or didn’t bother to properly plan to support their targets. Yet that will be of little consolation if Canadians’ historically welcoming nature begins to take a turn.

Canada’s success with immigration is thanks to its record of sustainable growth. For the Liberals to throw that ethos out the window isn’t just irresponsible, it’s dangerous.

Source: Sabrina Maddeaux: Liberals bring in influx of immigrants without a plan to support them

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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