Douglas Todd: Slow vaccine rollout threatens Trudeau’s lofty immigration target

Of note:

Canada’s vaccine rollout, which is slower than 41 other countries, threatens Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chances of reaching his record target for immigration this year. But that could benefit young Canadians and recent migrants struggling to find work during the pandemic.

University of B.C. geographer Daniel Hiebert has found COVID-19 has elevated the number of “underutilized” workers in Canada to almost four million — many of whom will compete with the 401,000 immigrants Ottawa is welcoming in 2021, in addition to temporary workers.

Saying Canada is only about “halfway” through resolving the pandemic through vaccinations, Hiebert told the influential Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of B.C. (AMSSA) it will be a “really significant challenge” to “economically integrate 400,000 newcomers into a labour market with nearly four million looking for work — or more work. It’s completely unprecedented.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Slow vaccine rollout threatens Trudeau’s lofty immigration target

Canada kept doors open to temporary foreign workers during 2020’s pandemic lockdown, new numbers reveal

The project that Dan Hiebert, Howard Ramos and I have been working on:

Despite its pandemic lockdown, Canada managed to keep its doors open to temporary foreign workers last year, new numbers reveal.

Amid travel restrictions and vastly reduced immigration, 322,815 people were issued a work permit under various temporary foreign worker programs, according to a joint project that tracks the pandemic’s impacts on Canadian immigration

Although that represents a drop of 10 per cent from the year before, temporary foreign workers appear to have been substantially less interrupted by COVID-19 than those in other streams of immigration to this country.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • The number of permanent residents admitted to Canada last year nosedived by 45.7 per cent, to just 185,130, from 2019;
  • The number of study permit holders also dropped by 33 per cent to 277,720, with the enrolment in primary and secondary schools down 32.3 per cent and in post-secondary education down almost 32 per cent. Those in language programs fell by 54 per cent; and
  • A total of 23,845 people sought asylum in Canada, compared to 64,045 in 2019. Claims made at airports and land borders dropped by 77 per cent and 72 per cent, respectively, due primarily to border closures. 

“Canada has been pretty dedicated to bringing in the people that it needs on a temporary work side,” said University of British Columbia professor Daniel Hiebert, a co-founder of the COVID research project. “There’s a Canadian interest story to be told.”

According to the immigration data, 215,080 work permit holders were admitted under “Canadian interests,” which include athletes, scholars, those in culture and entertainment, youth in international exchange programs and international students who graduated from a designated Canadian college or university. The group fell by just eight per cent from 233,430.

Migrant farm workers made up the second largest group, accounting for 54,145 of the work permit holders, representing a 6.1 per cent decline from 2019.

Those temporary foreign workers who required a labour market assessment to prove they’re not taking a job from a Canadian dropped by almost 13 per cent to 30,890 from 35,365 in 2019.

The biggest losers were foreign caregivers and foreign workers under trades agreements such as intra-company transferees, down by 49 per cent and 31 per cent respectively.

Andrew Griffith, another co-founder of the COVID and Immigration research project, said it makes sense for Ottawa to prioritize processing temporary residents such as migrant workers and international students, who are of Canada’s short-term economic interest and a crucial group in the country’s permanent resident pipeline.

Just in February, with the border still closed to prospective immigrants overseas, Ottawa invited a record 27,332 people to apply for permanent residence, and 90 per cent of the invitees are already living in Canada, with at least one year of Canadian work experience. 

With the immigration shortfall in 2020, Ottawa plans to welcome more than 1.2 million permanent residents over the next three years.

“I’m worried about the impact of COVID on those already in Canada,” said Griffith, a former director general at the immigration department. “Is it fair and ethical to encourage a large number of immigrants at a time when their economic prospects are not that great?” 

The immigration data also showed the number of permanent resident applications plummeted in 2020 by a whopping 54.6 per cent to 186,000 from 409,500 in 2019.

Applications from the Americas fell by 64 per cent, followed by those from Europe (57 per cent), Asia (56 per cent), Africa and Oceania (both at 46 per cent).

“Everywhere around the world people are hunkering down a little bit more, just thinking, ‘Why do I want to move thousands of kilometres away during a crisis?’ What’s on people’s minds is, ‘Who’s going to let me in as an immigrant now anyway?’” said Hiebert.

“There’s a sense that this isn’t the right time to try to get into another country. People are just being realistic.”

While it’s hard to predict how global migration will transform as the world digs itself out of the pandemic, Western University professor Howard Ramos said the notion of emigration out of the traditional source countries such as China, India and the Philippines in 2021 and going forward is different than before COVID-19.

“In any of those countries, they are now wrestling for the first time an aging population and potentially shrinking populations as a result of lower child births. The level of development is higher and people are more urban and have more education and affluence at home. The appeal to going abroad is not as it once was,” said Ramos, who works with Hiebert and Griffith on the COVID immigration tracking project.

“North America and Europe look very different than what they once did before the pandemic, as you see some of the chaos experienced with the rollout of the vaccines or when you look at public attitudes. We’ve seen an ugly turn in Canada with anti-Asian hate crime that certainly gives a different lens of Canada as a welcoming country.”

Permanent residents eager to become Canadian citizens were another group that suffered during the pandemic. Only 108,159 immigrants were granted citizenship in 2020, down by 56.8 per cent from 250,083 the year before as officials struggled to transition to offer virtual citizenship tests and oath-taking ceremonies.

While the research project has so far been operating more in a record-keeping mode, Griffith said the data will provide a better sense of the Canadian government’s immigration policy responses to the pandemic and their impact down the road.

“In the end, the interesting question is not just what happened, but why it happened. Did the policy responses have an impact? Was it good impact, bad impact? Was there something that needs to be done differently with hindsight?” Griffith asked.

“Those are the deeper questions, but it’s too early to answer them. This has been the year that the world has gone to hell. Hopefully, starting sometime in late summer we’re getting out of that hole.”

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/03/03/canada-kept-doors-open-to-temporary-foreign-workers-during-2020s-pandemic-lockdown-new-numbers-reveal.html

New tool could point immigrants to spot in Canada where they’re most likely to succeed

A neat example of algorithms to assist immigrants assess their prospects although human factors such as presence of family members and community-specific food shopping and the like may be more determinate. But good that IRCC is exploring this approach. More sophisticated that the work I was involved in to develop the Canadian Index for Measuring Integration. Some good comments by Harald Bauder and Dan Hiebert:

Where should a newcomer with a background in banking settle in Canada?

What about an immigrant who’s an oil-production engineer?

Or a filmmaker?

Most newcomers flock to major Canadian cities. In doing so, some could be missing out better opportunities elsewhere.

A two-year-old research project between the federal government and Stanford University’s Immigration Policy Lab is offering hope for a tool that might someday point skilled immigrants toward the community in which they’d most likely flourish and enjoy the greatest economic success.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is eyeing a pilot program to test a matching algorithm that would make recommendations as to where a new immigrant might settle, department spokesperson Remi Lariviere told the Star.

“This type of pilot would allow researchers to see if use of these tools results in real-world benefits for economic immigrants. Testing these expected gains would also allow us to better understand the factors that help immigrants succeed,” he said in an email.

“This research furthers our commitment to evidence-based decision making and enhanced client service — an opportunity to leverage technology and data to benefit newcomers, communities and the country as a whole.”

Dubbed the GeoMatch project, researchers used Canada’s comprehensive historical datasets on immigrants’ background characteristics, economic outcomes and geographic locations to project where an individual skilled immigrant might start a new life.

Machine learning methods were employed to figure out how immigrants’ backgrounds, qualifications and skillsets were related to taxable earnings in different cities, while accounting for local trends, such as population and unemployment over time.

The models were then used to predict how newcomers with similar profiles would fare across possible destinations and what their expected earnings would be. The locations would be ranked based on the person’s unique profile.

“An immigrant’s initial arrival location plays a key role in shaping their economic success. Yet immigrants currently lack access to personalized information that would help them identify optimal destinations,” says a report about the pilot that was recently obtained by the Star.

“Instead, they often rely on availability heuristics, which can lead to the selection of suboptimal landing locations, lower earnings, elevated out-migration rates and concentration in the most well-known locations,” added the study completed last summer after two years of number crunching and sophisticated modelling.

About a quarter of economic immigrants settle in one of Canada’s four largest cities, with 31 per cent of all newcomers alone destined for Toronto.

“If initial settlement patterns concentrate immigrants in a few prominent landing regions, many areas of the country may not experience the economic growth associated with immigration,” the report pointed out. “Undue concentration may impose costs in the form of congestion in local services, housing, and labour markets.”

Researchers sifted through Canada’s longitudinal immigration database and income tax records to identify 203,290 principal applicants who arrived in the country between 2012 and 2017 under the federal skilled worker program, federal skilled trades program and the Canadian Experience Class.

They tracked the individuals’ annual incomes at the end of their first full year in Canada and predicated the modelling of their economic outcomes at a particular location on a long list of predictors: age at arrival, continent of birth, education, family status, gender, intended occupation, skill level, language ability, having studied or worked in Canada, arrival year and immigration category.

Researchers found that many economic immigrants were in what might be considered the wrong place.

For instance, the report says, among economic immigrants who chose to settle in Toronto, the city only ranked around 20th on average out of the 52 selected regions across Canada in terms of maximizing expected income in the year after arrival.

“In other words, the data suggest that for the average economic immigrant who settled in Toronto, there were 19 other (places) where that immigrant had a higher expected income than in Toronto,” it explains, adding that the same trend appeared from coast to coast.

Assuming only 10 per cent of immigrants would follow a recommendation, the models suggested an average gain of $1,100 in expected annual employment income for the 2015 and 2016 skilled immigrant cohort just by settling in a better suited place. That amounted to a gain of $55 million in total income, the report says.

However, researchers also warned against the “compositional effects” such as the concentration of immigrants with a similar profile in one location, which could lower the expected incomes due to saturation. Other issues, such as an individual’s personal abilities or motivation, were also not taken into account.

The use of artificial intelligence to assist immigrant settlement is an interesting idea as it puts expected income and geography as key considerations for settlement, said Ryerson University professor Harald Bauder

“It’s not revolutionizing the immigration system. It’s another tool in our tool box to better match local market conditions with what immigrants can bring to Canada,” says Bauder, director of Ryerson’s graduate program in immigration and settlement studies.

“This mechanism is probably too complex for immigrants themselves to see how a particular location is identified. It just spits out the ranking of locations, then the person wonders how I got this ranking. Is it because of my particular education? My particular country of origin? The information doesn’t seem to be clear or accessible to the end-users.”

New immigrants often gravitate toward a destination where they have family or friends or based on the perceived availability of jobs and personal preferences regarding climate, city size and cultural diversity.

“This tool will help those who are sufficiently detached, do not have family here and are willing to go anywhere,” says Daniel Hiebert, a University of British Columbia professor who specializes in immigration policy.

“People who exercise that kind of rational detachment will simply take that advice and lead to beneficial outcomes.”

But Hiebert has reservations as to how well the modelling can predict the future success of new immigrants when they are basing the advice and recommendations on the data of the past.

“This kind of future thinking is really difficult for these models to predict. There’s too much unknown to have a good sense about the future,” he says. “These models can predict yesterday and maybe sort of today, but they cannot predict tomorrow.”

Source: New tool could point immigrants to spot in Canada where they’re most likely to succeed

Douglas Todd: Canada’s foreign-student policy needs public review, say experts

Noteworthy from who the call is coming from, the generally pro-immigration experts. Royal commissions appear to have fallen out of  favour given the time involved but nevertheless Canada benefits from those more in-depth reviews:

The public is in the dark about how Canadian immigration policy has been changed to give preference to international students, say experts.

Ottawa should set up a royal commission to look into issues such as whether Canadians agree that foreign students, who tend to come from the “cream of the crop” in their homelands, should go to the front of the line for permanent residence status, says Chris Friesen, who chairs the umbrella body overseeing settlement services in Canada.

Most Canadians have no idea that roughly one in three people approved each year as immigrants — especially during COVID-19-battered 2020 — were already living in the country as either foreign students or temporary workers, says Friesen, who also directs the Immigrant Services Society of B.C., which has provided support to tens of thousands of newcomers.

Source: Douglas Todd: Canada’s foreign-student policy needs public review, say experts

COVID-19 Immigration Effects: Some early data

I have been working with Dan Hiebert of UBC and Howard Ramos of UWO on a project to understand the short and medium term effects of COVID-19 on immigration (permanent and temporary residents), settlement services and citizenship.

Pending the specialized operational data sets from IRCC, we have been looking at the publicly available numbers on open data.

This deck highlights the dramatic impact as noted by others but with more detail.

https://www.linkedin.com/posts/andrewlgriffith_covid-19-immigration-effects-key-slides-activity-6682724191990530049-ms5k

We plan to update and refine this each month, with greater analysis and depth once we have the specialized datasets.

Douglas Todd: How Chinese, Filipino and other immigrants differ

I am a great fan of Dan Hiebert’s work and Todd’s article only whets my appetite to check out the interactive website:

Chinese and Filipino immigrants come to Canada with equally solid levels of education — but beyond that they’re remarkably different.

A revealing new “super-diversity” website created by a University of B.C. geographer, Daniel Hiebert, shows nine of 10 recent Chinese immigrants arrive in Metro Vancouver with enough money to immediately buy homes. But only half hold down jobs during their first five years in Canada, while four of 10 report they’re surviving on low incomes.

In sharp contrast, as Hiebert points out while showing his data-rich charts and maps on his interactive website, nine of 10 Filipino immigrants have jobs within five years of arriving in Metro Vancouver. Less than 10 per cent of Filipinos say they are on low incomes, and just four in 10 own their homes.

This is just a sample of the almost endless array of demographic insights about Canadian immigration, refugees, ethnicity, economic class and religion that can be readily discovered on the website, www.superdiv.mmg.mpg.de.

With a team of international scholars, Hiebert has been designing the site to help Canadian policy-makers, academics, journalists and the public “get a factual sense of how the world is changing. So that they can make their own interpretations.”

The website’s graphics quickly reveal nuggets about “super-diversity” in Canada, including that Metro Vancouver Muslims come from an astonishing 117 different ethnic backgrounds, and that initially disadvantaged refugees eventually do well in terms of education, income and housing after about two decades in Canada.

The super-diversity website democratizes immense pools of data from 1980 on, which have long been difficult or impossible for most Canadians to tap. The site provides the basis for an informed Canadian debate on immigration, which has so far been held back by exaggerated claims by both skeptics and advocates.

The website, created in collaboration with German and other scholars (thus the country code “.de” in the domain name), includes interactive maps that break Metro Vancouver down into 3,400 small chunks. Viewers can analyze each for such things as ethnicity, income, mobility, language and education levels.

This snapshot of a chart created by Prof. Daniel Hiebert shows the economic and housing outcomes of recent adult immigrants, those who arrived in Metro Vancouver between 2011 and 2016. It shows an amazing 90 per cent of new ethnic Chinese immigrants bring enough wealth to quickly buy a home in Metro Vancouver, in contrast to patterns in Sydney and Auckland. (Source: http://www.superdiv.mmg.mpg.de)

Since Hiebert’s Canadian research for the first time correlates 2016 census information with “landing data” provided by the federal immigration department, he was able to discover that immigrants in general, but ethnic Chinese in particular, move unusually quickly into Metro Vancouver’s housing market.

“The Chinese story is one of a great transfer of wealth” into Canada from offshore, he said. “Home ownership rates reflect that wealth transfer.”

The interactive online charts show the overall rate of home ownership by ethnicity — with nine in 10 ethnic Chinese owning their homes in Metro Vancouver, compared to eight in 10 South Asians, seven in 10 Caucasians and Koreans, six in 10 Filipinos and just four in 10 blacks, Arabs and Latin Americans.

The maps and charts created by Hiebert, Steven Vertovec, Alan Gamlen and Paul Spoonley also show the most “mobile” regions of Metro,the neighbourhoods in which people are more likely to move frequently. They tend to be in the north end of the City of Vancouver (from Kitsilano to Strathcona), New Westminster, parts of North Vancouver and around the City of Langley.

Hiebert’s maps also reveal which neighbourhoods come with the widest range of incomes, which he considers healthy. “You get more vibrancy in neighbourhoods in which you get to know people from other income levels. Gated communities are the worst. Nobody understands each other’s lives.”

While the west side of Vancouver tends to have a high ethnic mix, it has low diversity of incomes. In contrast, residents of the east side of Vancouver and south Burnaby have a range of incomes. “There’s a kind of upstairs-downstairs phenomenon” in the latter neighbourhoods, Hiebert said, with reasonably well-off homeowners serving as landlords to renters in basement suites.

Even though the amount of data on display in the “super-diversity” website is immense, Hiebert’s task in the next couple of months is to add more user-friendly statistics — this time on the often-ignored number of temporary residents and international students in Canada.

Their numbers have doubled in a decade to almost one million, with almost 200,000 in B.C., mostly Metro Vancouver. Hiebert, who is often asked to advise politicians and civil servants, acknowledged policy-makers rarely take into account this significant cohort of newcomers, who some say add to the intense pressure on the city’s rental market and transit system.

One of the aims of the super-diversity website is to compare migration issues in Canada with those in Australia and New Zealand. They are three of the five English-language countries (the others are Britain and the U.S.), that Hiebert says are magnets for “millions of millions of people around the world who want to learn English.”

Asked to compare migration to Sydney and Auckland with that to Metro Vancouver, Hiebert said each has large populations of Chinese immigrants.  But Metro Vancouver receives the most educated ethnic Chinese, he said, and far more who are ready to buy homes.

While the rate of home ownership among recent Chinese immigrants to Metro Vancouver is about 90 per cent, the rate is only about 50 per cent in Sydney and just 20 per cent in Auckland.

Source: Douglas Todd: How Chinese, Filipino and other immigrants differ

Metropolis 2017: Workshops of Interest – Notes

These rough notes capture the sessions that I either organized or attended to give others a sense of the topics and perspectives covered.

Integration – The Search for a New Metaphor: This session, prompted by the Canadian Index for Measuring Integration (CIMI) discussions on the meaning and definition of integration (and my Integration and multiculturalism: Finding a new metaphor – Policy Options) drew a good crowd(60-70 persons).

I opened with my critique of the “two-way street” metaphor by emphasizing that it did not capture the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of immigration, the Hegelian dialectic between thesis (host society) and anti-thesis (newcomers), resulting in a synthesis, and presented my preferred metaphor, harmony/jazz, where harmony represented the underlying framework of laws and institutions, and jazz the improvisation involved in resolving accommodation demands.

Mort Weinfeld of McGill drew from the personal experience of his parents and talking to cab drivers, noting that integration of the second generation was key. His preferred metaphor was the roundabout, with multiple points of entry and exit, with traffic moving smoothly.

Richard Bourhis of UQAM provided a Quebec perspective, looking at how Quebec language policies were characteristic of an assimilationist approach.

Elke Winter of UofOttawa drew from her analysis of European policies and practices and noted a third dimensions, that of outside actors and transnational forces (e.g., other countries, home communities of immigrants), and that integration was more a three-way than two-way process

The presentations prompted considerable discussion (although no one jumped to the defence of the ‘two-way street.’ The particular points I found most interesting were Richard’s noting the advantage of institutional diversity in terms of integration and others noting the need for metaphors and definitions to include indigenous peoples.

Thinking about next year, this is a topic that merits further exploration, perhaps involving some literary descriptions or metaphors (see the notes for Minority Voice, Identity and Inclusion – Media and Literary Expressions).

Citizenship – Factors Underlying a Declining Naturalization Rate: In the only session on citizenship, Elke WInter opened the workshop with an overview of how Canadian citizenship has evolved over the last 150 years, setting out four phases: colonized citizenship (pre-1947), nationalizing citizenship (1947-76), de-ethnicising citizenship (1977-2008) and re-nationalizing citizenship (2009-15) with a possible fifth phase emerging under the Liberal government. She presented some preliminary findings from an interview-based study.

I followed with my usual presentation of citizenship statistics, showing the impact of previous policy and administrative changes along with an assessment of the 2014 Conservative changes and Liberal partial repeal of these changes (currently in the Senate).

Jessica Merolli of Sheridan presented the key MIPEX naturalization indicators and data from the European Social Survey comparing immigrant/non-immigrant attitudes on issues such as self-sufficiency, interests in politics, LGBT acceptance and others and how over time in the country of immigration differences declined. The most striking exception was with respect to interest in politics, where immigrants, no matter how short or long the time, were more interested than non-immigrants.

Questions of note included do we need a citizenship knowledge test given that it presents barriers for some groups, and the impact that the  physical presence requirement has on families when one parent has to work abroad given difficulties in obtaining well-paying work in Canada.

Other workshops that I found particularly of interest included:

Inclusion, engagement partagé, participation – comment en rendre compte: Elke Laur of Quebec’s Minister de l’Immigration, de Latin American Diversity et de l’Inclusion presented their integration strategy and related measurement approach. Quebec has invested considerable time and resources on both aspects.

Of note is their definition below, capturing the complexities and dynamism of integration:

“Une participation réussie résulte d’un partage d’engagement mutuel de la personne et de la société dans son ensemble. Ainsi, la participation des personnes de minorités ethnoculturelles est conceptualisée sous forme d’un espace participatif dans lequel ces deux modalités se croisent dans une matrice. Cette matrice rend compte de l’articulation de différents degrés (allant de faible à fort), d’engagements individuels et de dispositions sociétales.”

Those interested in indicators should check out their report 2016 Mesure de Latin American participation des Québécoises et Québécois des minorités ethnoculturelles, an impressive report.

Enhancing the Potential to Analyze Immigration – Adding the Admission Category to Census Data: Laetitia Martin of Statistics Canada presented the detailed methodology of linking post-1980 IRCC administration data on immigrant admission categories, complemented by Lorna Jantzen of IRCC outlying the potential and challenges. Dan Hiebert of UBC provided an example for refugees of how this linkage could be used to analyze the economic outcomes of refugees, showing that in the long-term, economic outcomes are comparable to the Canadian average.

Minority Voice, Identity and Inclusion – Media and Literary Expressions: A mix of a case study (Punjabi media by Syeda Bukhari where she noted the ethnic media was getting more sophisticated in comparing what politicians said to English and ethnic media and thus holding them to account) and the overall contribution ethnic media does and can make to integration (Madeline Ziniak, current chair of the Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA)).

Myer Siemiatycki of Ryerson gave a fascinating presentation regarding the person and poetry of Julian Tuwin, a Polish Jew (or Jewish Pole) whose loyalty and identity were attacked by both sides.

An example, Tuwin’s Poem, We, Polish Jews (1944)

I am a Pole because I want to be. It’s nobody’s business but my own. I do not divide Poles into pure-stock Poles and alien-stock Poles. I leave such classification to pure and alien-stock advocates of racialism, to domestic and foreign Nazis.

To be a Pole is neither an honor nor a glory nor a privilege. It is like breathing. I have not yet met a man who is proud of breathing.

A Pole – because I have been told so in Polish in my paternal home, because since infancy I have been nurtured in the Polish tongue; because my mother taught me Polish songs and Polish rhymes; because when poetry first seized me, it was in Polish words that it burst forth; because what in my life became paramount — poetical creation — would be unthinkable in any other tongue no matter how fluent I might become in it.”

A Pole – also because the birch and the willow are closer to my heart than palms and citrus trees, and Mickiewicz and Chopin dearer than Shakespeare and Beethoven.

A Pole – because I have taken over from the Poles quite a few of their national faults.

A Pole — because my hatred of Polish Fascists is greater than my hatred of Fascists of other nationalities. And I consider that particular point as a strong mark of my nationality.

He also presented Yolanda Cohen’s deck on the Sephardic press and diaspora identities.

Negotiating “fit” – Connections Between Employer Mindsets/Practices and Labour Market Success of Newcomers: Kelly Thomson of York provided an overview of the issue of “fit” and presented a case study of foreign-trained accountants. Aamna Ashraf of the Peel Newcomer Strategy Group (near Toronto) presented the results of a study on soft barriers, with focused and practical recommendations. Madeline Ng of Autodata and Nancy Moulday of TD Bank presented how their respective organizations encourage and facilitate diversity in their workforces. Unfortunately, Thomson took far to long for her presentation, reducing the time available for discussion with the practitioners.

Fitting In: Identity and belonging among second generation Canadians: Elizabeth Burgess-Pinto of MacEwan University organized  this roundtable discussion focussing on the second generation. A number of second generation (and generation 1.5) participants shared their experiences, challenges and identities.

Immigrants help drive Metro Vancouver’s housing market: study

Dan Hiebert and David Ley continue their insightful work in assessing ethnic concentration and impacts on housing:

Immigrants have a major impact on fast-rising house prices in Metro Vancouver and Toronto, according to the author of a new study.

In a unique research project, UBC geographer Daniel Hiebert discovered that ethnic Chinese and South Asians become homeowners at a much higher rate than other immigrants and the general population.

“There is definitely an impact on the housing market,” said Hiebert, who believes a key factor behind the phenomenon is many new immigrants arrive in Canada’s major cities with a great deal of money.

The veteran researcher’s exclusive cross-tabulation of housing and immigration data, including between 2006 and 2011, found on average that 53 per cent of immigrants to Metro Vancouver during those five years became homeowners in that period.

They bought roughly 100,000 homes in Metro Vancouver during the five years, ranging from suburban condos to ritzy mansions.

“New Chinese immigrants were at the top of all this. Kind of incredibly, their rate of home ownership was 73 per cent,” said Hiebert.

Roughly 52 per cent of newly arrived South Asians, the second largest immigrant group in Metro Vancouver, bought homes in that same five-year period.

Rounding out the five largest recent newcomer groups during that period, the rate of home buying among South Koreans was 51 per cent and among white and Filipino immigrants it was each about 44 per cent.

Hiebert, who has published major studies on immigration, housing and ethnic enclaves, believes immigrants are seriously affecting housing affordability at both the high and low ends of the market.

Prices of Metro Vancouver’s expensive properties, those in the $4-million-plus range, are being dramatically affected by immigrants, Hiebert said. But, at the low end, so are costs for new Syrian refugee families, who need government subsidies to afford a basic place to live.

While some of the new immigrants who end up classified as homeowners might be among the relatively few who arrive on a family reunification program and join an existing household, Hiebert believes most would be buying homes by transferring large financial resources into Canada.

“I think it would be a pretty big stretch for someone to arrive tabula rasa (without a lot of money) in a housing market like Vancouver and within five years be able to purchase a home in this place. That would be really difficult to expect.”

Hiebert’s findings support the conclusions of UBC’s David Ley, holder of the Canada Research Chair in geography and author of Millionaire Migrants. The Oxford-educated professor has found an “unusually decisive” correlation between high immigration to Metro Vancouver and high home prices.

The overall rate of home ownership among all residents in Metro Vancouver is almost 70 per cent — out of a total 1.5 million households, according to Hiebert’s work.

Based solely on visible-minority status, and disregarding immigrant status, ethnic “Chinese have the highest ratio of home ownership, followed by South Asians,” Hiebert said.

“The percentage of home ownership among Chinese is 81 per cent,” accounting for 290,000 Metro households, Hiebert said. “And South Asians are second at 75 per cent,” or roughly 160,000 households.

“Between these two largest groups, you’ve got much of the immigrant picture, which is why the immigrant picture looks better than the other picture (for non-immigrants),” said Hiebert.

Among smaller ethnic groups in Metro Vancouver, 62 per cent of Filipinos own homes, as do 59 per cent of West Asians (mostly Iranians).

Hiebert, who frequently advises the federal government, said his research did not include studying the rate of home ownership among non-immigrants, long-standing residents of Canada, or whites.

Nor does it delve into the specific effects of foreign ownership on Metro Vancouver housing costs.

And even though Hiebert said the high rate of home ownership among immigrants has a “definite” impact on housing, he said more careful analysis of sales is needed to measure it precisely.

He speculated the roughly 100,000 homes bought quickly by immigrants who arrived in Metro Vancouver between 2006 and 2011 would represent a “reasonable fraction” of all houses sold in that period, adding that proportion could be calculated after learning how many homes sell each year in the region.

Craig Munn, spokesman for the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, said in an interview the average number of houses sold between 2006 and 2011 across the region of Metro Vancouver (which contains 21 municipalities from West Vancouver to Langley) was about 44,000 annually.

That adds up 220,000 home sales over that five-year period, which means the proportion bought by immigrants who arrived in that time alone would be about 45 per cent.

Hiebert, basing his work on novel cross-tabulations of the National Household Survey, found “stark differences” in new immigrants’ home ownership rates between Canada’s three largest cities.

While the home ownership rate in Metro Vancouver was 53 per cent and in Toronto 50 per cent among those who arrived between 2006 and 2011, it was just 23 per cent in Montreal.

“The much lower rate of home ownership in Montreal is ironic, because of course housing can be had for (roughly) 40 per cent of the price of Toronto or Vancouver,” he said.

“When housing prices escalate quickly, people feel they have to dive into home ownership. But there’s no sense of urgency in Montreal.”

Source: Immigrants help drive Metro Vancouver’s housing market: study

Canada’s ethnic enclaves more diverse than you think, study finds

Toronto Star coverage of the Dan Hiebert IRPP study:

The report by the Institute for Research on Public Policy found neighbourhoods with a dominant ethnic population are actually places of cultural diversity rather than cultural isolation. In fact, the average number of cultural backgrounds represented, even in enclaves, is close to 15, the study found.

And surprisingly, it also found that members of visible minorities who live in modern-day enclaves in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal are less likely to experience poverty than their counterparts who live outside them.

“The accelerated development of enclaves in Canadian metropolitan areas does not pose a threat but should instead be seen as an opportunity and a challenge,” said the study to be released by the Montreal-based think tank on Wednesday.

“Any assumption that enclaves are monocultural is decidedly incorrect. We see that in Montreal, enclaves are more diverse than other parts of the city, and in Toronto they are just as diverse as other parts of that city. Even in Vancouver, enclaves tend to be highly diverse social settings.”

Based on census data for 1996 to 2006 and the 2011 National Household Survey, University of British Columbia professor Daniel Hiebert examined whether enclaves are becoming more prominent in Canada’s urban landscape, the demographics of residents of these enclaves, and their relationship with poverty.

Greater Toronto’s social landscape changed rapidly between 1996 and 2006, when nearly two-thirds of the visible minority populations lived in areas where more than half of the population identified with a visible minority background.

In all, 3 million people in the GTA live in white-dominant areas, 1 million in mixed and visible-minority-dominant areas and 1.4 million in enclaves.

Canada’s ethnic enclaves more diverse than you think, study finds | Toronto Star.

Link to the study: Ethnocultural Minority Enclaves in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver

Don’t equate radical thoughts with actions, academics tell senator

Sigh ….

Conservative Senator Daniel Lang told a crowd of students at the University of Ottawa’s Public Policy Conference on Saturday that “we need to recognize that radicalized thoughts lead to radicalized actions.” But just last week Lorne Dawson, co-director of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society, told the committee that research on radicalization consistently demonstrates that very few individuals who hold radical ideas ever actually graduate to committing violence and that generalizations about radicalization don’t help the fight to counter extremism in Canada.

“Research literature is overwhelmingly clear there is a very poor correlation between espousing ideas and engaging in action,” Dawson told iPolitics on Monday. “Obviously some people on the committee heard what we were saying and some didn’t.”

Dawson’s co-director, Daniel Hiebert, also said he disagreed with Lang’s point and noted it’s important to keep in mind the distinction between having radical thoughts and acting on those thoughts.

“You can’t perform a radicalized action unless you had a radicalized idea so yes, there is a connection between those things but nowhere near everyone who has radical ideas will perform radicalized actions,” he said.  “The literature on these issues is very clear that it’s another conversion process. There’s one conversion process that happens between thinking mainstream ideas and having extremist ideas – that’s a pretty big kind of hurdle to jump over, it’s a pretty big conversion process that happens there. There’s yet another conversion process that happens between having extremist ideas and thinking that violence is an appropriate way to propagate those extremist ideas. So there’s no simple linkage between those two things. There’s sort of a necessary linkage — as I said, you can’t have B without A but A does not necessarily lead to B. “

Lang’s office sent an emailed statement in response for a request for clarification of his comments.

The statement reiterates the text of his speech at the conference.

“To be clear, I stated: We need to recognize that radical ideas lead to radical actions. It does not mean we should criminalize ideas, but we need to identify them; state that they have no place in Canadian society, even at university campuses – where sometimes the cloak of free speech is abused; and denounce those promoting them and facilitating such ideas – even if they are done in the name of religious ideology or doctrine,” the statement reads.

Don’t equate radical thoughts with actions, academics tell senator (iPolitics)