Cosh: The Incredibly Exploding Canada

More on the wake-up cry on immigration related to housing availability and affordability.

But why Cosh or his editors have to include a juvenile aside on the Globe “inferior national newspaper,” in general and at a time of Postmedia cuts, is beyond me:

It seems like only a few weeks since us newspaper halfwits were trying to absorb the astonishing news that the population of Canada had grown almost one per cent in three months. (“A few” turns out to mean “eight.”) In the meantime, nobody in Canada’s press has said very much about a Jan. 25 economics memorandum from the CIBC’s Benjamin Tal, which carries a somewhat disturbing message: we ain’t seen nothing yet

Tal’s concern is how we analyze the immediate future of housing markets in Canada. Newspapermen focus, perhaps naturally, on the headline details of federal-government targets for new permanent residents. These are already being increased at full throttle, with universal approval from the general public: new permanent resident (NPR) approvals are expected to hit 465,000 in 2023. Does this mean we need to somehow create housing (to say nothing of other infrastructure and social resources) for 465,000 new people and then more each year going forward? 

Well, the good news is that the answer to that question is “no.” Many new permanent residents are people who were already living in the country as students or temporary workers. While international travel was choked off during the pandemic, most new permanent residents were people already here, and so immigration figures didn’t represent new demand for housing and other socioeconomic supports. 

But this changed in 2022, which accounts for the remarkable spike in the observed population. Most new permanent residents last year came from outside the country, and this was coupled with a surge in arrivals of non-permanent residents, including about 140,000 Ukrainians who took immediate advantage of the humanitarian Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program. CUAET includes a three-year, more-or-less-unconditional work visa. 

The Ukrainians are merely a small part of this story, but they provide a hint as to why NPR numbers are more volatile and harder to forecast than the permanent-resident approvals, which are relatively easy for the federal government to enumerate and limit. Even as Ottawa crowbars the permanent resident-based immigration mainstream ever wider, industry is demanding more permits for temporary workers (don’t you know there’s a labour shortage?) and universities are frantically trying to rebuild their international student numbers. Actual NPR arrivals to Canada jumped from 258,000 in 2021 to at least 700,000 in 2022, Tal thinks. 

I hardly need to add that, this being Canada, reaching this estimate required digging into customized data from the immigration department. “Official published sources” don’t break down new permanent residents into “already here” and “newly arriving,” and Statistics Canada’s population projections have a habit of underestimating future NPR flows. 

“Together,” Tal concludes, net “permanent residents and NPR arrivals from outside Canada in 2022 amounted to an estimated 955,000, representing an unprecedented swing in housing demand in a single year that is currently not fully reflected in official figures.” He goes on to remind the reader that 340,000 Ukrainian holders of approved CUAET visas have not yet come to Canada, and there is a backlog of another 300,000 applications that haven’t been looked at. (The war in Ukraine, one should add, shows no sign of immediately ending; and who knows what unforeseen conflicts might inspire the creation of a second or third or nth emergency visa program?) 

Meanwhile, if you believe the inferior national newspaper, the feds are considering dealing with their notorious and awful immigration backlog by slashing the Gordian knot of visitor visas, waiving the eligibility rules for those and rubber-stamping 500,000 applications all in one wad. This would help Canadian tourism and conference organizing a great deal — but it would also be likely to send that unpredictable “net arrivals” figure through the roof. The discussion memorandum obtained by the Globe, let us note, explicitly considered the possibility that this might be best done in secret without an official announcement.

Source: Cosh: The Incredibly Exploding Canada

Rents Are Soaring in Canada as Surge of People Goes Undercounted

Good article and analysis.

Emblemic of the “undercounting” is that the Immigration Levels Plan does not include temporary residents (workers and students), an oversight that many are noticing given the rapid rise in their number over the past 20 years.

Housing availability and affordability is the most obvious Achilles Heel of the government’s approach but there healthcare and infrastructure are also significant:

Canada’s explosive population growth from immigration is causing rents to surge in its biggest cities. And there’s another problem: The country isn’t even properly counting the number of people who need homes.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government plans to welcome 465,000 new permanent residents this year, and increase the annual target to half a million by 2025. But those often-cited numbers understate the pressure on the country’s limited supply of housing —because they don’t include a wave of foreign students, temporary workers and others with non-permanent visas.

The country actually had close to 1 million international arrivals last year, according to an analysis by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce that’s based on other data, including visas. It will probably accept a similar number this year, said Benjamin Tal, the bank’s deputy chief economist.

Apartment Rents Are Soaring in Canada’s Cities

Rent increases for two-bedroom apartments, year-over-year

As a result, Canada is experiencing its fastest population growth since the 1970s, and apartments have become extremely hard to find. The vacancy rate on rental buildings is below 2%, the lowest since 2001. In Vancouver, it’s less than 1%. The situation is made worse by rising interest rates that have made buying a home unaffordable for many people, pushing them into the market for rental properties.

Source: Rents Are Soaring in Canada as Surge of People Goes Undercounted

40% decline in permanent residents becoming Canadian citizens since 2001, data shows

Of concern, accelerating trend that I started identifying a number of years ago:

StatCan numbers reveal the percentage of permanent residents who become Canadians has plummeted over the past 20 years.

The Institute for Canadian Citizenship says Statistics Canada data points to a 40 per cent decline in citizenship uptake since 2001.

The group’s CEO, Daniel Bernhard, calls the drop alarming and says it should serve as a “wake up call” to improving the experience newcomers have in Canada.

In 2021, nearly 45.7 per cent of permanent residents who’d been in Canada for less than 10 years became citizens.

That’s down from 60 per cent in 2016, and 75.1 per cent in 2001.

The StatCan data did not identify reasons for the drop, but Bernhard suggests Canada’s cost of living and job prospects are likely factors.

He says the institute is investigating root causes.

“There are a myriad of issues,” said Bernhard.

“But ultimately, what’s changing is that people have decided that they’re less interested in being `Team Canada.”’

Bernhard said the decline affects Canada’s long-term economic and social outlook.

“This is a problem for all of us who care about Canada’s future prosperity and dynamism,” he said. “We need to solve this for the future of our country.”

The federal government has said it wants to boost immigration by adding 1.45 million permanent residents over the next three years, starting with 465,000 in 2023 and increasing to 500,000 in 2025.

Source: 40% decline in permanent residents becoming Canadian citizens since 2001, data shows

The National Post take:

As Canada ratchets up immigration to the highest levels in its history, surprising new figures from Statistics Canada are showing that nearly half of all recent immigrants are no longer bothering to seek Canadian citizenship.

The numbers were publicized this week by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. And according to the group’s CEO Daniel Bernhard, they may be a sign that the Canadian dream is no longer working out for newcomers.

“What’s changing is that people have decided that they’re less interested in being ‘Team Canada,’” Bernhard said in a statement, adding that the figures are a “wake up” call to the Canadian immigrant experience is treating new arrivals.

In 2021, of the permanent residents who had come to Canada within the last 10 years, just 45.7 per cent had become citizens. In 2001, that figure was 75.1 per cent.

It’s not the first time that evidence has emerged to show that new immigrants are not as enthralled with Canada as in prior decades.

A March Leger survey — also commissioned by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship — found that more than one fifth of recent immigrants were already making plans to leave. Among under-34 immigrants, in particular, 30 per cent said they were “likely” to leave Canada within the next two years.

As to why, newcomers are citing the same concerns with the country as native-born Canadians: Skyrocketing housing costs and diminishing access to government services such as health care.

In the Leger poll, even among immigrants who wanted to stay, their number one reservation was “high cost of living.”

In a bid to boost GDP, the Trudeau government has already raised Canada’s immigration intake to the highest levels in Canadian history, and is on track to bring in 500,000 newcomers annually by 2025. Absent any dramatic policy changes, this influx will likely worsen many of the issues that are already beginning to scare away new Canadians.

On Tuesday, CIBC CEO Victor Dodig warned that if Canada continued packing in immigrants without a viable plan to absorb them, it could spur an unprecedented “social crisis.”

“New Canadians want to establish a life here, they need a roof over their heads. We need to get that policy right and not wave the flag saying isn’t it great that everyone wants to come to Canada,” Dodig said at an event hosted by Canadian Club Toronto.

One other factor potentially driving down rates of immigrants seeking citizenship is that Canada’s immigrant stream is increasingly coming from countries that do not tolerate dual citizenship, thus prompting many newcomers to remain permanent residents in perpetuity.

The chief examples are India and China. Indian nationals are required to surrender their Indian passport the moment they become Canadian citizens. Chinese prohibitions on dual citizenship were illustrated most glaringly in 2021, when the Beijing government tightened its control on Hong Kong by forcing 300,000 residents with joint Canadian citizenship to either leave or tear up their Canadian passport.

Both countries now represent a significant share of Canada’s current immigrant influx. As per 2021 figures, 18.6 per cent of recent Canadian immigrants reported India as their birthplace, while 8.9 per cent reported being born in China.

For context, just three per cent of recent immigrants were born in the United States.

In 2022, Canada officially welcomed 431,645 immigrants. Notably, the last time in Canadian history that immigration levels were this high — during the settling of the prairies in the years preceding the First World War – it was also paired with surging levels of outmigration as many newcomers swiftly abandoned their new Canadian homesteads.

“A lot of people left; outmigration was as high as in-migration for a very, very long time,” Adele Perry, a researcher of Western Canadian history, told the National Post in 2012.

Source: Canada is scaring away its new immigrants

Canadian Real Estate Fuelled or Cooled by Immigration Policy? 

From the recent report by Re/Max Canada, the Conference Board and CIBC, largely cheerleading the government’s increased immigration levels but emphasizing the need for more trades in the mix of immigrants to help address labour shortages in construction:

SCENARIO: Canada fulfils its commitment to welcome more than 400,000 immigrants per year to the country with a continued emphasis on integrating Economic Immigrants who generally have higher education, English and French skills, and prior Canadian work or study experience.

“Immigration produces significant benefits for the Canadian economy as a whole and helps meet the labour market needs of particular communities and sectors. Canada’s system excels at selecting immigrants who have a high likelihood of long-term economic success. However, the system could improve by selecting more immigrants to fit specific, chronic labour market needs. In particular, a focus on immigrants with skills in the trades and construction could help address severe labour shortages that limit housing supply,” says Iain Reeve, Associate Director, Immigration Research, Conference Board of Canada.

Canadian real estate and immigration_Immigrants welcomed to CanadaResearch by the Conference Board of Canada has shown that higher immigration levels can benefit the Canadian economy with greater GDP and public revenues [Note: Overall GDP not per capita GDP]. CIBC Capital Markets and The Conference Board of Canada agree that the Canadian economy needs a minimum of 400,000-plus new immigrants annually to sustain our economic vibrancy.

In fact, despite the pandemic, Canada accepted approximately 405,000 new Canadians in 2021. According to Benjamin Tal, Deputy Chief Economist at CIBC Capital Markets, what is not often reported is that 70 per cent of the 2021 cohort were already established in Canada and approximately 50 per cent of the 2022 immigrants will be in-country. The key insight here is that we are not looking at 400,000-plus net new individuals settling anew in Canada with housing needs, but approximately half that number. They have been students and non-permanent residents with employment, promising prospects for employment and all with housing. 

New immigrants are not the only factor to consider in determining housing demand. The formula is complicated and often does not look at things such as immigrants already living in Canada and Canadian students in temporary housing. To get an accurate measure of housing demand, further refinement is needed to housing data collection methods, according to both CIBC Capital Markets and The Conference Board of Canada.  

As Tal explains, the profile of new Canadians is quite distinct from historical immigrant cohorts. Many have higher educational credentials and Canadian work experience. For example, just 10,000 new immigrants in 2015 held a post-graduate work permit, versus more than 88,000 in 2021, according to data compiled by the Conference Board.

Canadian real estate and immigration_Immigrants who are homeownersIt takes 10 years for immigrants to have earnings that are commensurate with their skills, education, and experience when compared to similar Canadian-born workers. According to Tal, that time has decreased by approximately half. In part, this is a result of Ottawa’s emphasis on economic immigrants and better immigrant support systems. This means that new immigrants can land on their feet faster and participate in the Canadian economy in various ways, such as entering into Canadian real estate ownership. In 2021, 38 per cent of homeowners in Canada were immigrants.

However, as both CIBC Capital Markets and The Conference Board of Canada state, Canada’s immigration levels alone are not an issue. There is a missed opportunity by not selecting more immigrants who are trained in the trades, where all regions across Canada are experiencing a deep labour shortage. 

In reference to the construction sector alone, BuildForce Canada reported that 90,000 workers will be leaving the workforce in the next five to 10 years due to retirement. Yet, Canada has not accepted enough skilled trade immigrants in 2021 to fill these labour market gaps, according to the Conference Board of Canada. This will impact Canada’s ability to fulfill the new housing and affordable housing starts as predicted by the federal government.

“Currently, Canada’s federal immigration policy does not link with the country’s labour market needs and that will be a mounting problem in our capacity to build enough homes to meet the high demand over the next five years,” says Tal. “It’s all fine to table policy to improve our national housing affordability crisis by promising to build more homes and affordable housing — it’s critical — but it’s superfluous when you don’t have the skilled workers
to build it.”

“For several years now, RE/MAX Canada has been advocating for a coherent and achievable national housing strategy to calm red-hot price increases and more importantly, to improve affordability for a greater diversity of buyers and renters,” says Elton Ash, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX Canada. “Yet, as the experts at CIBC and The Conference Board show, our current immigration policy is lacking sufficient linkages with labour demands and as such is not set-up as successfully as it could be. Immigration policy should help support our labour demands.” 

Source: Canadian Real Estate Fuelled or Cooled by Immigration Policy?

Woman outraged CIBC job application suggests traditional regalia for video cover letter

Interesting case. CIBC engaged an Indigenous consultant, who in turn consulted other Indigenous community leaders and experts, in order to encourage Indigenous recruitment and recognize Indigenous identities.

So clear intent to be inclusive but can understand why the “regalia” reference in particular provoked Paquette’s response.

Would have been interesting, of course, to know the reactions of other applicants:

Christine Paquette was scrolling through an online job site when she came across a posting looking to recruit Indigenous people for customer service jobs at CIBC.

The 21-year-old Ojibway and Métis woman works as a part-time receptionist at an esthetics salon and was hoping to find a second job, one that could lead to a possible career.

“It seemed kind of like a good way to get my foot in the door,” Paquette said in an interview with Go Public from her home in Winnipeg.

Her fluent French and work experience made Paquette think that a banking job could be a good fit for her — until she started going through the questions in the online application.

“It said along the lines, ‘Please explain, like, your favourite tradition or your favourite story,'” Paquette said. “I was like, ‘Huh, that’s a little odd thing to be asking.’ … How is a traditional story going to help me excel in, like, the role of a bank teller?”

Paquette continued with the application, even though that question didn’t sit well with her. But she didn’t get very far after that.

“That was, like, the appetizer,” she explained.

The questions continued: “How would you describe your communication skills? TIP: Why don’t you show us instead?” the application read.

It went on to encourage Indigenous applicants to let their personality shine in a video cover letter and “to write a song, poem, dress in traditional regalia or bring in back-up dancers!” as part of the video submission.

“I was like, OK, that’s enough, that’s all I need to see,” Paquette said.

“I want you to prove to me how Indigenous you are,” she said. “That’s how I took it.”

Like many businesses across Canada, CIBC told Go Public that it is committed to taking steps to ensure its workforce reflects the communities where its employees live and work. But experts in the field of Indigenous recruitment strategy say the bank’s job application — and Christine’s experience — is a good opportunity for companies to learn better practices when pursuing diverse workplaces.

The sacredness of regalia

Paquette says that the question asking her to share her “favourite Indigenous tradition/story” brought up a wide range of emotions.

She says her grandmother went to a residential day school and was made to be ashamed of her heritage, so she didn’t pass down any traditions to her daughter, Christine’s mother — who in turn couldn’t teach Christine.

“How are you going to go on and ask me to share my favourite story or tradition when … settlers and, like, residential schools taught us that it’s not OK?” Paquette said. “To be asking Indigenous people to share their favourite story or their favourite part of their culture that they don’t even have access to anymore is really insensitive.”

Paquette also thought it wasn’t appropriate for CIBC to suggest that she dress in traditional clothing as part of the application.

Go Public showed the CIBC application to experts in Indigenous recruitment work.

Patricia Baxter is a member of Sheguiandah First Nation and a board member with Indigenous Works, a non-profit organization that promotes inclusion and engagement of Indigenous people in Canadian workplaces. The group consults with a wide variety of companies across the country, including McDonald’s, Bell Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Baxter says that for a professional position within a financial institution, she doesn’t see the purpose of the question.

“What many Canadians don’t realize is that regalia isn’t just traditional clothing,” she said. “It’s a right to wear that clothing, and it’s a responsibility on how you use that clothing…. It’s very sacred and it’s attached to ceremony. So it’s not something you just put on.”

CIBC consults Indigenous group

Paquette says she was so upset by the questions that she decided to post her concerns to CIBC on Twitter.

She says she was surprised by the response. The bank said it has been working with a not-for-profit Indigenous organization, Our Children’s Medicine (OCM), and that the questions that offended Paquette had actually been designed in consultation with Indigenous community leaders and elders.

“The purpose of these questions is to help remove barriers that may exist as part of a traditional job application process by showcasing transferrable skills and potential, while giving Indigenous candidates the opportunity to share stories that are important to them,” CIBC said in a Twitter response to Paquette.

“We encourage candidates to simply say ‘prefer not to answer’ if they … don’t feel comfortable with any specific questions.”

After Paquette shared her thoughts on social media, the regalia reference was removed from the CIBC application.

Go Public contacted the bank to ask more about the thought process behind the questions.

“At CIBC we are committed to taking steps to ensure our workforce reflects the communities where we live and work and to removing barriers that may exist through traditional job application processes,” Trish Tervit, CIBC’S director of public affairs, wrote in an emailed statement.

Tervit said CIBC’s relationship with OCM has been instrumental in creating relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit job-seekers and that the bank has hired more than 70 Indigenous people through its Indigenous recruitment program.

What CIBC didn’t say is that OCM wrote the questions on the application.

Go Public contacted OCM. In a statement, the organization confirmed that the questions were created “in consultation with Indigenous elders, knowledge keepers and other members of the community.”

The statement, sent to Go Public from one of the group’s managers, Kelly Hashemi, said that OCM’s application process “is crafted to allow hiring managers to identify lived, cultural and transferable skills which get lost during a traditional ‘corporate’ application and interview process.”

OCM said it’s a registered charity in Toronto that works with employers to “implement our hiring process at their companies and create action plans to learn from, engage with and attract talent from the Indigenous community.”

‘A learning experience’

An expert who spoke to Go Public says the situation is an opportunity for all businesses in Canada — not just non-Indigenous groups — to learn something and to recognize that any organization can make a mistake.

“Just because you’re an Indigenous person, Indigenous organization or Indigenous company doesn’t mean you’ve got some magical perspective on everything,” said Kelly Lendsay, who is Cree and Métis, and president and CEO of Indigenous Works, based in Saskatoon.

Lendsay says recruiters should ask open-ended questions, such as, “Tell me something you’re proud of,” and then leave it up to applicants to bring up stories about their culture or experience if they choose.

“Someone might say, you know, ‘I’m really proud of the fact that I chair the food bank,'” Lendsay said. “Another person says, ‘I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve reconnected with my culture to learn powwow dancing. I’m a fancy dancer.'”

While he commends the efforts of CIBC and OCM to help Indigenous people enter the banking sector, Lendsay says there’s room to grow.

“They’re obviously making good efforts here. But we have to listen to this, to Christine, and take that feedback and make the changes,” Lendsay said. “We don’t want employers to be turned off by … these stories. Let’s use it as a learning experience.”

Strategy in action

More than a decade ago, Calgary-based organization ECO Canada consulted with Indigenous Works — then called the Aboriginal Human Resource Council — to create a concrete strategy to break down barriers faced by Indigenous people looking to enter the workforce, particularly in the environmental sector.

The organization launched a weeks-long program called BEAHR, available to Indigenous community members looking to learn new skills in order to boost their chances of finding employment in that field. More than 4,000 participants from over 250 Indigenous communities across Canada have graduated from the program since its inception, and it’s caught the attention of employers across the country looking to develop their own recruitment policies.

“It’s a very complex issue, and it’s an issue where cultural sensitivity is very important,” said Yogendra Chaudhry, ECO Canada’s vice-president of professional services. When it comes to job applications, Chaudhry says, the process should have a consistent set of questions for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups.

“If you design two separate sets of questions … then you’re not looking at the inclusion part,” he said. “You’re still working with two separate systems and then trying to integrate the workers.”

Chaudhry says his organization is focused on creating meaningful and long-term employment, rather than looking at plans to create a diverse workplace as one-off opportunities or PR strategies.

As for Paquette, she says she supports the idea of companies, like CIBC, investing in diversifying their workforce. But she says the only questions related to an applicant’s Indigeneity should be whether the person identifies as First Nations, Métis or Inuit. The rest, she says, should be left out of the hiring equation.

“I think it’s great to encourage Indigenous people to show off their culture and be who they are,” Paquette said.  “But to … ask them to do it just for you to land an interview, I don’t think that was appropriate at all.”

Source: Woman outraged CIBC job application suggests traditional regalia for video cover letter

Non-permanent residents are force in Canadian economy

Interesting take from CIBC on the economic contribution of non-Permanent Residents:

The most powerful demographic and economic impact is not in the tight labour markets of Alberta and Saskatchewan, but in British Columbia and Ontario, Tal found.

The number of non-permanent residents tripled in Ontario between 2006 and 2013. If those people hadn’t arrived, the province would have lost 120,000 people in the important cohort that is forming households and powering economies.

In B.C., the number in the 25-44 age group would have been flat if the non-permanent residents total hadn’t doubled.

“It is not a coincidence that those two provinces are also the ones to experience long-lasting strong housing market activity,” Tal said in his analysis.

The implication is that any new federal policies to alter the status of TFWs should take into account their importance as spenders in the Canadian economy.

“The main issue is to take into account the economic impact of such large numbers. The number is big enough to change the trajectory,” Tal said.

He said the 2013 numbers, which he drew from Statistics Canada, may underestimate the number of non-permanent residents in Canada compared to more recent figures from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

He points to a 14 per cent growth in new permits for TFWs and nine per cent growth in extensions in 2014. There is very little evidence such workers are returning to their home countries, he said.

Non-permanent residents are force in Canadian economy: CIBC – Business – CBC News.