Douglas Todd: How the election is playing out in local Chinese-language media

More in-depth look at Chinese-language media election and related coverage:

The conflict between Hong Kong and China. The pros and cons of immigration and refugees. Beliefs on abortion and same-sex issues. The tension between paying taxes and benefiting from social services.

Specialists who monitor Canada’s roughly 290 Chinese-language newspapers, websites, radio stations and TV channels say the political coverage not only echoes the mainstream media, it also reveals the distinct concerns of people with origins in East Asia.

Immigration and refugee issues garner more attention in the Chinese-language media than they do among the general Canadian public, say professional observers.

And even though Chinese-Canadians with roots in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China show a complex range of political opinions, Andrew Griffith, a former senior director in Ottawa’s immigration department, has concluded: “There is more of a conservative trend among Chinese-Canadians than, for example, South Asians.”

Like other Canadians, the 1.3 million people of Chinese origin switch party allegiances according to broader political patterns, said Griffith, who works with Diversityvotes.ca, a website highlighting political coverage in the country’s ethnic media. But their votes could make a crucial difference in dozens of urban swing ridings with large immigrant and visible-minority populations.

Roughly three out of four Chinese-Canadians live in either Greater Toronto, where they make up 11 per cent of voters, or Metro Vancouver, where they account for 20 per cent of voters. In the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, which has two federal ridings, 54 per cent of the population is ethnic Chinese.

Andres Malchaski, president of MIREMS International, which monitors the ethnic-language media and helped create Diversityvotes.ca, says that, while a large portion of Canadians tell pollsters the environment is their top election issue, that issue is far outweighed in the Chinese-language media by debates over immigration and refugees.

Chinese-Canadian media outlets, including their discussion forums, contain frequent criticism of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau for bringing in more than 60,000 Syrian refugees since 2015, said Machalski, who has analyzed Canada’s ethnic media for three decades.

Media outlets that target Canadians from China are often wary of refugees from Muslim countries, Machalski said, an attitude that reflects the way China’s authoritarian leaders have restricted the religious freedom of millions of Uighur Muslims.

“The feelings expressed by some of the calls and comments on phone-in shows and in newspaper columns (in Canada) certainly support the idea there will be segments of Chinese voters that might even go so far as to support the People’s Party of Canada,” which is calling for reducing immigration and refugee levels, Machalski said.

Still, Machalski emphasized that the views expressed in the Chinese-language outlets in Canada offer a “kaleidoscope” of perspectives, which often reflect whether their respective audiences are connected to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Hanoi or Beijing.

That is especially so in regards to the recent anti-Beijing protests in the financial centre of Hong Kong.

More than 300,000 people living in Hong Kong hold Canadian passports — and Oct. 21 marks the first Canadian election in which they can cast a ballot, says a Diversityvotes.ca article by Blythe Irwin.

The Chinese media is picking up on everything Canadian politicians are saying about the special administrative region of China. Ethnic-Chinese media commentators, she says, are both approving and sceptical of the way Trudeau says he is “extremely concerned” about Hong Kong, while Conservative leader Andrew Scheer went further by declaring in a tweet: “We are all Hong Kongers.”

Fenella Sung, a former Chinese-language radio show host, said that Chinese-media perspectives about the conflict largely reflect whether the Canadian-based outlets are aimed at audiences rooted in Hong Kong or China.

It’s not surprising that readers of media directed at the large mainland-Chinese population in Canada “would think the Hong Kong issue is China’s internal affair and that it would not be appropriate for Canadian politicians to comment,” said Sung, who is a member of Canadian Friends of Hong Kong.

Long-time immigrants from Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of East Asia, Sung said, tend to have political concerns that are in line with Canadians at large, such as jobs, housing and protecting the environment.

“But newer and younger immigrants, mostly from mainland China, are very consistent and focussed on economic growth, expansion of trade, less government bureaucracy, and lower taxation. They don’t like social spending.”

Prior to the B.C. election in 2016, some opinion polls suggested that, even while the province’s more than 500,000 ethnic Chinese voters held diverse views, they generally leaned to the centre-right B.C. Liberals, and had almost no interest in the Greens.

In an article on politics and Canada’s ethnic media published Wednesday in Policy Options magazine, Griffith said Liberal and Conservative party approaches to same-sex marriage and abortion have been widely commented upon, suggesting so-called “family values” are important to many recent immigrants and people of colour.

“While the Liberals and Conservatives get widespread coverage of their electoral promises and commitments, the NDP and Green Party are under-covered,” Griffith added, after reviewing 1,200 recent articles in the ethnic media.

“In contrast, the People’s Party of Canada, given its focus on restricting immigration and its initial exclusion from the leaders’ debate, received more than twice as much substantive coverage as the NDP and Greens combined.”

Chinese-language and other ethnic media outlets in Canada don’t necessarily reinforce cultural silos, Griffith says. But it’s clear they also offer a special window into political discussions of particular concern to certain ethnic groups.

Source: Douglas Todd: How the election is playing out in local Chinese-language media

Douglas Todd: Drawing Canada’s party lines on immigration in this election

Likely better to await the formal party platforms for the specifics (or absence of …):

The United Nations reported last year that Canada is the fourth most accepting country in the world for immigrants.

Working with pollsters from Gallup, the UN tallied each country’s quotient for tolerance by asking residents of each nation whether it was a “good thing” or “bad thing” that immigrants were living in their country, were becoming their neighbours and marrying into their families.

While Canada came out close behind No. 1 Iceland and ahead of the Netherlands, Australia and the United States (ninth), some of the least-accepting countries for migrants turned out to be Pakistan, Greece, Poland and Egypt. The polling showed residents of populous India and China were not as hostile to newcomers as those in South Korea, Israel and Russia, but were still highly wary.

Canadians’ relatively welcoming approach to migrants is the backdrop to this federal election campaign, in which each party’s different approaches to immigration policy are quietly but increasingly bubbling to the surface, as a modern-day record proportion of Canadians — roughly half — now tell pollsters that Ottawa is allowing in too many immigrants.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is nevertheless standing on his record of welcoming asylum seekers, hiking immigration levels by one-third and increasing international students and guest workers by half. The Conservatives’ Andrew Scheer, meanwhile, stresses that immigration is a positive for the country and that “sadly, under Justin Trudeau, a record-high number of Canadians believe that immigration should be reduced.”

The NDP’s Jagmeet Singh has made it a priority to allow in more parents and grandparents of Canadians and further increase Ottawa’s immigrant-settlement funding for Quebec. The leader of Canada’s fourth most popular party, the Greens’ Elizabeth May, has promised to erase the temporary foreign workers program.

Most Canadians don’t want the kind of overheated immigration conflicts that have occurred in some countries. But specialists such as Simon Fraser University political scientist Sanjay Jeram say it’s healthy for Canadians to not avoid the issue, since it affects housing, employment, urban congestion, the welfare state and training programs. And UBC political scientist Antje Ellermann has said our immigration policy history is potentially vulnerable to public pushback.

“Populism is a consequence, not the cause of political dissatisfaction,” Ellermann said. “Canadian immigration policy has traditionally been dominated by the government and civil servants, and rarely engaged the public in meaningful ways. (That makes it) vulnerable to popular challenge.”

Canadians certainly have diverse opinions on migration. For instance, the Angus Reid Institute found 32 per cent want to keep the current refugee levels, of about 50,000 per year, while 18 per cent say they should increase and 40 per cent say they should be lower.

Canadians show similar variations on the federal “family reunification” program, which typically brings in older immigrants sponsored by relatives. Angus Reid analysts say Canadians are expressing “pushback” on this program out of concern such newcomers are “more taxing on the nation’s social services.”

Here’s more on how the four main political parties are handling migration issues:

Liberals

In a close race with the Conservatives, Trudeau is not talking a great deal about specific immigration policies, says Ipsos pollster Darrell Bricker, who notes the prime minister has mostly been questioning other candidates on whether they are tolerant.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has been more assertive. Highlighting how the Liberals have brought in a record number of international students, he recently confused education experts by boasting there were 721,000 such students in Canada in 2018. His officials later clarified the actual figure for Dec. 31, 2018, was 573,000. Hussen has also this year accused some of his political critics of being un-Canadian.

One of Trudeau’s rare forays into migration-related policy during the campaign occurred in Metro Vancouver, where there is a housing crisis. Trudeau pledged to follow the B.C. NDP and institute both a Canada-wide foreign buyers tax on housing as well as a speculation tax aimed at “satellite” homeowners, who earn most of their wealth outside the country, where it’s not subject to Canadian income tax.

Conservatives

After releasing his party’s immigration policy in May, Scheer has been low key on the potentially hot topic. Yet the Conservatives are airing ads that feature Scheer with the tagline “I’m voting for a fair immigration system.”

This month an Ipsos poll found 42 per cent of Canadians believe the Conservatives are best suited to handle immigration policy. That compares to the Liberals at 16 per cent, NDP at nine per cent, Greens at two per cent and the People’s Party of Canada, which wants to reduce immigration levels to 150,000 a year from the current 320,000, at 11 per cent.

The Conservatives have vowed to “set immigration levels consistent with what is in Canada’s best interests.” The party claims it would be more bold than the Liberals in clamping down on the thousands who have made irregular border crossings into Quebec. And this week Scheer promised to launch a national inquiry into “corrupt” money-laundering, both domestic and foreign, in the real-estate industry, which he said is inflating housing prices.

NDP

Singh is putting a strong emphasis on family-reunification programs, with the NDP saying it “will end the unfair cap on applications to sponsor parents and grandparents.” The party would also “take on unscrupulous immigration consultants.”

Even while Quebec Premier Francois Legault has cut immigration levels by 20 per cent, Singh has promised to have Ottawa respond to a lack of workers by giving the province $73 million more each year to settle newcomers. Critics, however, point out the federal government already sends Quebec four times as many taxpayer dollars to settle each immigrant than it sends to B.C. and Ontario.

Greens

The most surprising thing in the Greens’ policy is a commitment to end the temporary foreign worker program, which brings in about 100,000 people a year, while allowing more of them to become permanent residents. The Greens also say they want to define the term “environmental refugee,” turning it into a new category within Canada’s immigration system.

Even though the UN has verified that Canadians are among the world’s most welcoming people, it’s clear the complexities of immigration policy are still an issue, with politicians trying different ways to appeal to the public’s diverse opinions.

Source: Douglas Todd: Drawing Canada’s party lines on immigration in this election

Douglas Todd: Idea of federal apology splits Italian Canadians

For some context. One of the files I worked on under the Conservative government was the historical recognition program which provided funding to communities who had been affected by wartime internment or immigration restrictions (Chinese, Ukrainian, Italian, Indian and Jewish Canadians).

Italian Canadian stakeholders were difficult and in the end, then Minister Kenney, engaged Conservative Senator Di Nino to help steer the discussions regarding projects to be funded. (For more details, see Multiculturalism: The Case of Historical Recognition in my book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias:Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism):

Since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already offered his apologies to many different Canadian minority groups, some Italian Canadian media outlets have been aroused to express anger that their ethnic group has not yet received one from him.

The Italian-language media, which has 25 different outlets in Canada, has been simmering this summer about Trudeau, who has made it clear he will formally apologize only after the Oct. 21 election for the internment of a relatively small portion of Italian-Canadians during the Second World War.

“Almost 80 bitter years later, the federal government appears ready to apologize to Italian Canadians for the humiliation, suffering, arrest and internments of hundreds in 1940. … While some say better late than never, others wonder why he did not do it right after he came to power,” said Lo Specchio newspaper.

“The fact Justin Trudeau has ‘promised’ just before the fall election to apologize in Parliament for the internment of Italian Canadians … raises questions about the prime minister’s sincerity,” said Corriere Canadese newspaper.

“Anti-Italian prejudice must end,” declared one writer in Il Cittadino Canadese.

Trudeau’s promised apology has become a key political issue in ridings with large Italian and other ethnic groups.

And it’s sparked debate among Italian Canadians and others over whether such an apology is warranted, since the detention of 586 suspected Fascist Italian Canadians was different in many ways from the mass internment of 22,000 Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.

Andres Malchaski, co-founder of an organization that monitors electoral issues among Canada’s ethnic communities, said many Italian-language newspapers are pushing for Trudeau to say he’s sorry because, like other ethnic groups, they’re “using apology and redress issues to establish their political and cultural identity in Canada.”

Italian Canadians are “particularly aggressive … because they have a history of political participation and leadership and a need to defend that space against other ethnic lobbies,” said Malchaski, whose website, diversityvotes.ca, monitors hundreds of ethnic-language media outlets in Canada.

About 1.6 million Canadians are of Italian ethnicity, including almost 100,000 in Metro Vancouver, 280,000 in Greater Montreal and 490,000 in the Toronto region. Malchaski says many are involved in nomination competitions in ridings which have a changing mix of ethnic voters.

In his four years in office Trudeau became the focus of academic studies for his frequent “apologism,” for the way he regularly, often tearfully, expresses regret for historical wrongs to certain groups, including Sikhs, Indigenous people in B.C., Jews, Inuit and LGBTQ people.

As a result many Italian Canadian media outlets are suspicious about why he’s holding off until after the election to apologize for what occurred in Canada during the Second World War, when Canadian soldiers joined the Allies battling against Nazi Germany, imperial Japan and Fascist Italy.

Part of the reason for Trudeau’s delay could have to do with the uncertainty and controversy that continues to burn among Italians and the wider public over whether to apologize to offspring of the those Italian Canadians detained as suspected collaborators with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s Fascists.

Canada was “not wrong or malicious” to try to protect the country by detaining certain Italians in the country at a time of war, says Patrick Luciana, an Italian Canadian who is a senior fellow at the University of Toronto’s Global Cities Institute.

“To have done otherwise would have shown an extraordinary dereliction of duty to Canada and its people …. What government wouldn’t take precautions against potential enemy subversives?” Luciana recently wrote, noting such precautions were the norm among Allied countries.

“How can we as Italian Canadians ask for an apology when 5,000 Canadian men and boys are buried in cemeteries throughout Italy, who died to rid ‘our’ ancestral home of fascism and naziism?,” Luciana said.

“If we want anything, it’s to avoid having this episode in our history forgotten. But that’s in our hands, not the government’s.”

Another prominent Canadian historian, Jack Granatstein, told Postmedia he thoroughly endorsed the views of Luciana, who argued it’s insulting to ask for an apology today from the descendants of Canada’s leaders in the 1940s, who were predominantly Anglo-Saxon.

Historians often make many distinctions between the targeted Italian Canadian arrests in Eastern Canada and the way that, after the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong and Pearl Harbour, most Japanese Canadians were removed from the West Coast, had their property confiscated and were interned.

Former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, Justin’s father, opposed collective apologies in general. And at least two other Italian Canadian scholars – Franca Iocovetta and Roberto Perin, who edited the 2000 book, Enemies Within – have also expressed skepticism about the Italian redress campaign, according to Christopher Moore, a contributing editor to Canada’s History magazine.

“In the 1930s, there were pro-Fascist organizations in most Italian-Canadian communities, often sponsored by Italian consulates loyal to Mussolini’s Fascist regime. The roughly 600 Italian Canadians interned, out of some 112,000 Italians Canadians, were mostly associated with these pro-Fascist organizations,” Moore said.

On the eve of the Second World War, the Italian Canadian population was split by duelling pro- and anti-Fascist organizations, noted Moore, a prolific writer and former Vancouver resident whose father wrote a biography of Angelo Branca, a leading B.C. lawyer, judge and Italian community leader.

Moore says Branca’s standing among Italian Canadians was “eventually enhanced by his determined resistance in the 1930s to the encroachment of the pro-Fascist movements.”

Regardless of whether Canadians support or oppose an apology, Machaski, whose website translates the Italian-language media into English, said the fight of some Italian Canadians “for an apology is more of a fight for political space for the community than a campaign for redress that might kindle old animosities.”

In advance of this fall’s election, Malchaski is on to something when he maintains the campaign to make sure Trudeau says he’s sorry is mostly about trying to conserve a sense of Italian identity among younger generations and to hold onto some political influence.

Source: Douglas Todd: Idea of federal apology splits Italian Canadians

Douglas Todd: Dramatic jump in guest workers hurts Canadians on low wages

Not sure where Todd is getting the numbers to state his case. The largest part of the increase actually happened under the Conservatives, 2007-15: from 92,000 to 234,000 (IMP), with only Temporary Foreign Workers showing a decline following the reversal of their facilitating their entry in response to business pressures (from 78,000 in 2007, rising to a peak of 104,000 in 2013 before declining to 60,000 in 2015).

The bulk of the Temporary Foreign Workers increase under the Liberal government has been with respect to agriculture workers (a doubling to 52,000, 2016-18), not fast food workers.

And while there are linkages with international students, better to focus on IMP and Temporary Foreign Workers in this kind of analysis:

A big jump in the number of guest workers is hurting low-wage employees and others across Canada, according to economists.

The number of non-permanent foreign workers arriving in Canada each year has doubled in the past decade, escalating particularly after the federal Liberal government was elected in 2015.

Partly as a result of the increasing flow of guest workers, UBC economist David Green and Carleton University’s Christopher Worswick say in a paper that new immigrants are doing “worse and worse” in regards to earned incomes. And it’s Canada’s low-wage workers who are suffering the most.

Even though businesses frequently lobby politicians to allow more guest employees, Green says the latest hikes are putting downward pressure on wages and threatening respect for workers. They’re exacerbating the kind of scenario, he said, that lead to the rise of Donald Trump and Britain’s Brexit movement.

Saying it’s “truly dumb” for the federal government to continue boosting low-skilled guest workers in the country, Green emphasized the vast majority of Canadians don’t appear to be aware of the labour-market shift. “It’s totally under the radar.”

While temporary workers were initially billed as a way to rescue businesses that needed to make up short-term skill shortages in certain sectors, low-skill guest workers from overseas are now increasingly being brought in to staff fast-food restaurants, fill shelves at supermarkets and perform basic kitchen duties.

In the face of a 2013 backlash against the increased volume of foreign workers in Canada, former Conservative immigration minister Jason Kenney drastically cut their numbers. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has jacked up the totals much higher.

The new river of guest workers in Canada “releases the pressure on firms to provide better jobs, jobs where you have control over your time, where the pay is decent. It lets the steam off. And that pushes us toward a society that doesn’t respect workers so much,” said Green, a professor in the Vancouver school of economics and a fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London.

It’s difficult for the public to recognize that guest worker numbers have grown at a much faster pace than more-often discussed immigration levels, which have expanded by 30 per cent since 2015, with about 320,000 now being approved annually.

The official temporary foreign worker program, which attracted such controversy in the Conservatives’ era, has not greatly expanded. But other guest-worker efforts have.

One jump has come through the doubling of international students. In 2015 about 200,000 foreign students were arriving each year. By last year the number arriving annually on study visas had ballooned to more than 400,000. Most foreign students are allowed to work 20 hours a week, plus full-time during their summer or other breaks.

The least-known migration policy change, however, has arguably been the biggest one for the labour market. That is the fourfold expansion of the so-called “international mobility” program, about which few Canadians have heard.

In 2005 about 70,000 guest workers arrived under the “international mobility” category. But by 2018 Canada was accepting more than 250,000 in this category, which is typically made up of people on two-year visas, many of whom find jobs in the service sector.

Informally known as travellers on “holiday worker” visas, such employees are often associated with young Australians working at ski resorts like Whistler, or with British globe trotters serving beer in pubs in Vancouver or Toronto.

A UBC-backed website called Superdiversity, which has created interactive graphics based on immigration department data, shows the largest group of the more than 250,000 “international mobility” workers who arrived in Canada last year were from India, followed by those from the U.S., China, France and South Korea. Toronto took in about 70,000 international mobility workers in 2018, while Vancouver absorbed 30,000.

In line with the research of American economist Giovanni Peri and the University of Ottawa’s Pierre Brochu, Green described how owners of a Tim Horton’s franchise, a café or a supermarket often try to justify bringing in more guest workers by saying they can’t find anyone to fill the low-skill slot.

“So they go to their local MP and say, ‘I’m in trouble here. I can’t get enough workers for my front counter.’ The real response to them should be, ‘Well, pay them more.’ But it’s not the answer they want to hear, because they want to make more profit,” Green said.

Economists don’t really think it’s a problem that a fast-food restaurant owner or other service sector employer can’t hire workers at low wages, said Green. “When something is scarce, the price for it goes up and people and companies adjust. That’s the whole wonder of the capitalist system.”

The low-wage problem is exacerbated in places like Metro Vancouver, where the cost of renting or owning homes is extreme. Instead of offering decent living wages to the people who live here, Green said many bosses are inclined to hire “people who live in housing with five other foreign workers.”

A second trouble with Canadian companies increasingly relying on low-wage guest workers, Green said, is it leads to a more fearful workforce, incapable of demanding adherence to local labour standards or of forming a union.

“Everyone knows these guest workers have no rights. If they lose their jobs they’re gone. They’re not about to complain. Canadian firms are now not only getting just lower-wage workers these days, they’re getting very compliant workers,” said Green.

Even though a lot of commentators write off the supporters of Trump and Brexit as just “stupid people,” Green said, many have been workers who have felt that the promise of globalization, the transnational movement of capital and labour, has not benefited them.

“These are people who feel there was a deal promised to them, where everyone would share in the benefits of deregulation and a more flexible labour market,” said Green.

“But then governments did things like bring in more temporary foreign workers and those people are feeling like, ‘What the hell just happened?’ If you want people to feel like they have a share, don’t bring in somebody to replace them every time their wages start looking like they’re going to go up.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Dramatic jump in guest workers hurts Canadians on low wages

Douglas Todd: What would happen to Canadian housing if immigration stopped?

Good range of perspectives covered in this thought experiment:

What would happen to Canada’s housing market if immigration to Canada was substantially reduced or even cut to zero? It’s a crucial question for the public, and for real-estate developers who start new construction projects on the basis of predictions of future sales.

Surprisingly, however, the answers are all over the map.

Some specialists suggest virtually nothing would happen to Canadian housing prices if immigration slowed or ended. Others say the impact would be lower prices and hard times for the powerful real-estate industry.

While there are no immediate signs immigration levels will be reduced — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has increased the immigration rate by more than 30 per cent, to almost 350,000 newcomers a year — the issue is central to the dreams and anxieties of Canadian residents who either own homes or want to imagine the possibility.

Two Ontario real-estate specialists recently wrote in the Financial Post that, based on studies, the “overall impact of immigration on housing markets is modest at best in most cases.”

The most startling research spotlighted by Murtaza Haider, of Ryerson University, and Stephen Moranis, a Toronto real-estate insider, maintained that immigration has virtually no impact on overall Canadian housing prices.

The authors of that contentious study, Ahter Akbari and Yigit Aydede of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, claimed immigration adds an insignificant $1 to every $1,000 people in Canada spend on housing.

Could that be true?

UBC geography professor emeritus David Ley, whose findings differ from the 2012 paper by the Saint Mary’s profs, said in an interview their study looks at the period from 1996 to 2006 and doesn’t focus on urban regions, which his analyses do. Ley has consistently found a close correlation between strong immigration and high housing prices in global cities.

In that way the Saint Mary’s paper sidesteps an increasingly plain-to-see phenomenon: Housing prices vary according to where immigrants choose to live. And for the most part they stream into major cities, especially sky-high Toronto and Vancouver.

Indeed, the authors of the Financial Post article that cites the Saint Mary’s study apparently contradict themselves at the end of their piece, after repeating the impact of immigration is “modest at best” on housing.

“The more important realization,” Haider and Moranis say in their last sentence, “is that an absence of immigration would result in a declining population and aging of the workforce, which could have a much larger negative impact on Canadian housing markets.”

So, which is it? Immigration has almost no influence on housing? Or the population growth it brings has a tremendous impact?

Simon Fraser University’s Josh Gordon, a specialist in public policy, says it’s crucial to follow through on the “counter-factual” question, to imagine a scenario not currently in the cards: What would happen to housing prices if immigration levels reduced to zero?

The real-estate industry, Gordon said, repeatedly says it must build more housing faster because the Canadian population is growing rapidly, predominantly because of immigration.

The development industry’s repeated warnings, Gordon said, that Metro Vancouver and Toronto property must be rezoned at higher density and that rents will continue to rise would be thrown into disarray with the ending of immigration.

“What’s revealing is that when certain members of the real-estate industry try to generate a fear-of-missing-out mentality (FOMO), as well as the expectation that prices will rise over time, their typical move is to emphasize how many people will be arriving on a yearly basis and how large the population will eventually be,” Gordon said.

“The actions of those organizations belie the idea that immigration is not likely to have much impact on prices.”

There is evidence housing prices would dramatically adjust if immigration stopped.

After all, the populations of Metro Vancouver and Toronto experience net growth of about one per cent a year, almost entirely from foreign-born newcomers, who need places to live. That does not include the  high portion the two cities take in of the roughly one million international students and temporary visa workers who are now in Canada at any one time.

And a recent study by Statistics Canada researchers found the detached houses bought by recent immigrants to Metro Vancouver are, on average, valued $824,000 higher than such homes owned by people born in Canada. In Toronto the cost of recent immigrants’ homes was about $50,000 higher than that of the domestic born.

UBC geographer Daniel Hiebert, in addition, showed in a peer-reviewed study that recent immigrants, especially those from China, show statistically greater determination than Canadian-born citizens to buy housing in Canada’s three major cities. “First and foremost,” Hiebert says, “immigration policy is, essentially, also a form of housing policy.”

The Urban Development Institute, which represents property developers, makes no bones about how housing supply must be expanded to support immigration.

“Over the next 25 years, our province is expected to grow by more than 1.4 million people, partly as a result of the federal government’s plan to raise immigration 13 per cent by 2020,” UDI president Anne McMullin recently wrote. “That means we must work together to create new homes if we want our children and grandchildren to have a future in B.C.”

A related June study by Gordon found a near-perfect correlation between housing unaffordability and foreign ownership in certain Metro Vancouver municipalities. Gordon discovered, for instance, that Vancouver, Richmond and West Vancouver are not only the most unaffordable municipalities, they are the one most attracting millionaire migrants and their wealth.

There is a complicating factor, however, as there often is when trying to understand the mass global movement of people and money.

Gordon emphasizes that immigration levels and foreign ownership, which he defines as “housing owned primarily on the basis of foreign income or wealth,” are related. But they’re different, too.

“There is some overlap to the extent that immigration, as it happens in Canada, involves many people arriving with significant amounts of wealth,” Gordon said. “But debates about immigration are largely distinct, though not entirely, from debates around foreign ownership, even while certain people have tried to conflate the two.“

How do the foreign-buyers taxes in B.C. and Ontario, as well as B.C.’s speculation tax, fit into the discussion of housing prices? Those measures are focused on foreign ownership, not immigration levels, Gordon said.

“The point of the measures in relationship to foreign ownership is to discourage the de-coupling of the housing market from the labour market, to discourage the use of large amounts of foreign capital to purchase property in Canada,” said Gordon.

“Measures around foreign ownership are about levelling the playing field for local working people. Measures around immigration are different. The irony is that measures to limit or curtail foreign ownership may in fact be beneficial for many new immigrants, because new immigrants who do not arrive with vast amounts of wealth are doubly disadvantaged in the housing market.”

It can take a while to get one’s head around the global forces running through Canadian housing.

But no matter which way you look at the impact of large-scale immigration, and foreign capital, on key sectors of Canada’s vigorous housing market, it’s undeniable they’re profoundly connected — and that decisions made about immigration will indeed always be a form of housing policy.

Source: Douglas Todd: What would happen to Canadian housing if immigration stopped?

Immigration’s impact on Canadian economy cuts many ways for economists

Good summary of what the data shows, largely based on UBC economist David Green:

Are immigrants good for the Canadian economy?

Forty-five per cent of Canadians answer “yes” to this broad question, while 22 per cent say “no” and 33 per cent are not sure. There’s an argument to be made those who told Ipsos pollsters they don’t know are the most honest — and also the most realistic.

Most Canadians don’t follow the economists who track how immigration and temporary workers have an impact on Canada. If they did, they’d soon realize economists’ findings often conflict with the views championed by corporate executives and politicians.

Canada’s traditionally high immigration rates actually cut many unpredictable ways. The more than 300,000 immigrants and 700,000 temporary migrants recently arriving in the country help expand the overall economic pie. But to most economists that doesn’t mean much.

Economists, instead, mine data to discover whether average wages rise or fall because of migration, which types of migrants do best, whether a foreign education or offshore work translates to Canadian success and how much it matters to be proficient in English or French.

UBC economist David Green says it can be misleading to emphasize the gross domestic product. Yet I’d suggest it’s what almost half of Canadians are probably thinking about when they tell pollsters immigration is good for the economy.

“The size of the whole economy is not really what we care about. What we really care about is per capita income. We care about how much each one of us gets in income,” Green said in an interview.

“Think about whether you’d rather be living in India or living here, just in terms of your material wealth. India, in terms of GDP, is bigger than us. But in terms of GDP per capita we’re way ahead of them. So you’d rather be in a rich society than a big society.”

Designing immigration policies mainly to boost the GDP “makes little sense,” Green says. That is, unless you’re a business owner who wants a bigger market for your product (such as real estate or automobiles) and more choice in who you can hire.

Here’s a second lesson from economists: When it comes to what really matters for most Canadians — per capita wages — Green explains the impact of immigration is over time “very close to zero.”

The extreme boosters or critics of immigration, as a result, may have to tone down their rhetoric in light of findings by Green and others that, overall, immigrants neither “steal jobs” nor “magically grow them either.”

Here are eight other discoveries economists have made about migration:

New immigrants aren’t doing as well in Canada as in the 1980s

Historical graphs show immigrants’ earnings, compared to that of the native-born in Canada, were strongest in the 1980s and declined precipitously until about 2003, when they slowly began improving.

There are two reasons for this decline in the 1990s, says Green. One is that all new entrants to Canada’s labour market, including domestic-born, struggled with lower wages during that period. The other is that fewer immigrants came from Europe.

Language matters, a lot

Economic studies have consistently shown the most successful immigrants to Canada are those who are adept at English or French. “There is a positive correlation between language skills and earnings,” says Green.

Source country also makes a difference

“People from source countries where English or French is not the main language, or with different educational institutions, do less well in the Canadian economy … compared to immigrants from Northern Europe or the U.S.,” says Green.

When Australia introduced stricter language testing of immigrants, economist Andrew Clarke and others found immigrants earned higher incomes. But that could be because the new language demands led to more people going to Australia from Europe.

Foreign degrees not quite as valuable as Canadian degrees

Immigrants with a foreign degrees don’t always gain greatly from it, unless they’re literate in French or English, according to economist Joseph Schaafsma.

“The implication is that, on average, immigrants have lower returns on education because their education skills are not as productive in the Canadian economy,” says Green, who nevertheless adds it’s still valuable to select educated immigrants.

It might help if Canadian officials improved efforts to recognize the credentials of people trained outside the country, Green says, “but it won’t be a panacea.”

Offshore work experience doesn’t pay off as expected

This is a harsh reality for many new immigrants.

“Foreign-acquired work experience obtains a zero return in Canada,” both Green and Carleton’s Christopher Worswick discovered. Work skills that immigrants develop in their home countries might not be as useful in the Canadian labour market as they would like.

While it’s hard to pin down exactly why immigrants do not benefit greatly from work experience in a foreign land, Green says it could partly be attributed to “discrimination.” But it’s also a result of old-country experience not easily transferring to a new land.

There are winners and losers in migration

Although the across-the-board impact of immigration on Canadian wages is flat, some low-wage workers can get hit.

American economist Giovanni Peri is among those who have found that relatively recent immigrants can be financially hurt when a new wave of immigrants arrives soon after them.

Although U.S. evidence doesn’t translate easily to Canada, it suggests immigration can have a negative impact on the wages of lower-skilled workers, including both immigrants and the native-born. Some domestic workers adjust by moving into jobs that require strong English-language skills.

There can also be negative impacts on the wages of those in the host society when temporary workers come to Canada, says the University of Ottawa’s Pierre Brochu. The number of temporary workers in Canada, including the low-skilled, has roughly doubled since the 2015 election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Immigrants tend to pay less in taxes

Since immigrants start in Canada with earnings that are below the national average before they gradually catch up, Green says it “implies they will tend, on average, to contribute less to the public purse.”

Immigrants lean to self-employment and small businesses

Even though commentators point to the way immigrants appear slightly more likely than the native-born to “create businesses,” the trend is a bit more complicated.

“We find that immigrants are more likely to open firms, but they are much more likely to be spells of self-employment, rather than incorporated firms that employ others,” says Green. “And even the incorporated firms tend to be small.”

• • •

Although the financial data is not all rosy for immigrants to Canada, it doesn’t mean most don’t benefit from leaving their homeland.

Most economists agree nearly all immigrants gain tremendously by moving to a high-wage country such as Canada from their own countries, which typically offer lower wages and are often dysfunctional.

What’s more, the United Nations’ Happiness Report, co-run by UBC economist David Helliwell, finds that immigrants who move from “unhappy” countries (where residents report low rates of life satisfaction) to happier ones such as Canada soon end up as happy as the host society.

In addition, many immigrants make their life-changing move to a new land as part of a long game for their families, so their children can get better educations and grow up in more stable societies and stronger economies.

Indeed, Statistics Canada studies reveal the offspring of immigrants do far better than the native-born in both obtaining university degrees and high-skilled jobs. Says Green: “There are potential gains to Canada as whole from the second generation.”

Many people make sweeping generalizations for and against immigration, but instead of going with bombast, economists show the truth is in the details.

Source: Immigration’s impact on Canadian economy cuts many ways for economists

Douglas Todd: Would-be immigrants to Canada being sold ‘false dreams’

Yet another story on immigration fraud with some examples of more reputable consultants:

The migration agents confronted Vancouver’s Laleh Sahba as she walked on the sidewalk last month near the Canadian embassy in Ankara, Turkey.

The street hawkers told her that, for $25,000 or more, they would get her to an immigration professional who would be sure to hand her a visitor or student visa so she could be well on her way to obtaining a Canada passport.

The sidewalk agents mistook Sahba for another near-desperate Middle Eastern person who would spend almost everything she had for the dream of becoming a permanent resident in Canada, land of promise.

But Sahba — an Iranian-Canadian and a regulated Canadian immigration consultant — says her encounter with Turkey’s street agents was just another reminder how easy it is for people abroad and in Canada to claim to be immigration experts to take vulnerable people for a nasty ride.

“They are selling wrong information. They are making up false dreams,” Sahba said at her downtown Vancouver office. “This is a huge business. And what disturbs me is that many are in it for the money in Canada. They’re playing with people’s lives.”

Sahba, who works with professional immigration partners in the Middle East, is among a small number of Canadian immigration consultants and lawyers who are coming forward to describe the wide range of misinformation, misdeeds and scams being foisted on would-be immigrants.

Some of those posing as immigration specialists are telling anxious people they will eventually get a Canadian passport if they pay large sums, in the tens of thousands of dollars, just to obtain a study or visitor’s visa, which have limited use. Some are also falsely telling clients they can finagle them status as a refugee.

The immigration fantasies of foreign nationals often end in tatters, says Sahba, 40, who came to Canada from Iran two decades ago and has been a consultant for 15 years. Many immigration specialists are making promises they can’t deliver on. By the time most would-be immigrants come to her to find a way out of their migration problems “they are absolutely screwed. We can’t help them.”

Much more must be done, Sahba says, to clean up the fast-growing immigration-advice industry, which in Canada includes 5,400 regulated immigration consultants and 1,000 immigration lawyers, but also an untold number of unlicensed agents.

Marina Sedai, a Surrey immigration lawyer, tends to agree. She told a Conference Board of Canada workshop in Vancouver last month that there is “rampant immigration fraud” being perpetrated by some consultants and agents.

Sedai said she is constantly hearing from troubled clients about how they’ve being misled or defrauded by self-professed experts who demand large fees to guide foreign nationals through Canada’s intricate immigration system.

As national chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s immigration section, Sedai highlighted how her organization has told federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen the system Ottawa has set up to regulate immigration consultants, who have less formal training than lawyers, is not working.  “There are good reasons,” the society said in 2017, “to limit the practice of immigration law to lawyers and Quebec notaries,” with immigration consultants working under the supervision of lawyers.

Many wives are being advised by immigration specialists to get a study visa so their husbands can come to Canada and work and their children can attend school, says Laleh Sahba. The trouble is many wives “don’t really want to study” and end up failing. It leads to big problems for the family.

Sahba, however, believes the majority of regulated immigration consultants do excellent work. Still, she hears at least five times a month from foreign nationals who have become embroiled in shady agreements that involve both Canadian immigration advisers and lawyers.

While Sahba generally supports Ottawa’s aim to make it simpler for some of the more than 500,000 foreign students in Canada to become permanent residents, for instance, she said some advisers are increasingly misrepresenting the study visa program as the backdoor immigration ticket for entire families.

Many wives in their 40s and 50s are being advised, she said, to apply for a study visa so that their husband can come to Canada on a spousal work visa and their children can attend schools in Toronto, Metro Vancouver and elsewhere.

The trouble, Sahba said, is many of the wives are unable to pass English-language exams and “don’t really want to study in the first place.” They begin failing courses and can’t get into postgraduate school, which means they and their husbands and children are expected to return home.

“It’s all over for them. They’ve wasted their time and huge amounts of money. And their kids have in the meantime become used to Canadian society. This is where my heart bleeds.”

In addition to describing scams in which so-called immigration specialists have charged clients many thousands of dollars just for a visitor’s visa, Sahba said other illicit schemes involve provincial immigrant entrepreneur programs, including those operated by Quebec, B.C. and Manitoba.

Since a large number of so-called immigration specialists also have real-estate licences, Sahba says, some become embroiled in housing deals with rich prospective newcomers.

Other advisers direct so-called entrepreneurs to make “passive investments” in Canadian properties or businesses, which often involve nothing more than appearing to transfer money between relatives’ bank accounts.

In one extreme case, Sahba worked with two sisters from Pakistan who transferred more than $170,000 to immigration agents in Canada who said they were arranging the purchases of a gift shop and pet store in Vancouver. The entire process, which involved transferring photos and signatures via Skype, was fake. The culprits couldn’t be tracked.

The Canadian Bar Association, in its attempts to target “incompetent and unscrupulous” immigration advisers, told Canada’s immigration minister in 2017 there had been an “astonishing” 1,470 complaints against the regulated members of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) since it began in 2011, plus 1,115 more against non-members.

That regulatory council posts some of the online allegations against its licensed Canadian immigration consultants, with one ICCRC page describing disciplinary investigations against almost 50 named members, who regularly charged clients $10,000 to $30,000 for relatively small tasks. Many of the consultants are accused of misdeeds such as: “Deceiving client,” “misleading client,” “falsely advising client,” “failing to notify client,” “charging client exorbitant fee” and of “misrepresenting” themselves in a variety of ways, including as border officials.

Sedai said some immigration advisers have even become involved in presenting false job offers to would-be immigrants — an activity she says she has run into in Surrey. Burnaby immigration lawyer George Lee is among those who has tried to expose the widespread jobs deception.  

Although the clients of people who make a living in the immigration industry continue to take part in illicit schemes based on bad advice, Sabha wants to make clear some clients have not been innocent in the process. “They’ve got dirty hands, too.”

And the chances for all concerned of getting caught are increasing.

“The immigration officers are also not stupid anymore, not like in the old days,” Sahba says, chuckling. “They’re smart. And they’re looking at all aspects of every immigration application.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Would-be immigrants to Canada being sold ‘false dreams’

Douglas Todd: Offspring of Chinese and South Asian immigrants reaping high-skilled jobs

The overall national numbers somewhat amplify the differences between visible minorities and not visible minority given rural Canada is overall not visible minority, and where levels of university education are lower. However, even at the city level, the differences are significant in terms of income but with the same relative pattern of visible minority groups that are doing better compared to those that are not:

Second-generation immigrants are proving adept at moving into high-skilled careers in Canada.

The offspring of Chinese and South Asian immigrants, especially women, stand out for obtaining a much higher percentage of high-skill careers in Canada than the rest of the population.

A new Statistics Canada analysis reveals more than 40 per cent of second-generation Canadians of Chinese or South Asian background — the two largest minority groups in Canada — have found mid-career jobs in high-skill sectors.

That compares to less than 30 per cent of second-generation male Southeast Asian or white immigrants — and 20 per cent of white males whose parents are not immigrants. The study’s surprising, mixed results may cause some public-policy makers to re-think their traditional understanding of employment equity.

The StatsCan analysis, by Wen-Hao Chen and Feng Hou, shows children of nearly all immigrants are significantly more educated than their parents. And second-generation Chinese, South Asian, Japanese, Korean and West Asians are obtaining the highest proportion of university degrees and strongest percentage of jobs that rely on such educations.

But other second-generation immigrants — particularly Filipinos, blacks and Latin Americans — are not doing nearly so well at snagging high-skill jobs.

Neither are whites whose parents are not immigrants, whom the report refers to as “third-plus generation whites.” The StatsCan analysis did not include data on Indigenous people, who tend to score low on educational and labour rankings.

“Second-generation Chinese and South Asians, in particular, are over-represented in high-skill occupations relative to third-plus generation whites,” say Chen and Hou.

“About 40 per cent or more of second-generation Chinese, South Asians and West Asian or Arabs worked in high-skill occupations, compared with 20 per cent of men and 31 per cent of women among third-plus generation whites,” says their February study, titled Intergenerational Education Mobility and Labour Market Outcomes.

“The shares of second-generation Filipinos, Latin Americans and blacks working in high-skill occupations were similar to or smaller than those of third-plus generation whites,” said the report, noting that less than 22 per cent of Filipino, Latin American, black immigrants, or white males of Canadian-born parents, were employed in the high-skill sector.

Canadian women are in general doing better than men at obtaining high-skilled work.

Especially excelling are second-generation women of Chinese, South Asian and West Asian/Iranian origins. More than 43 per cent of women in these cohorts work at high-skilled jobs, compared to just 31 per cent of white women who are not the children of immigrants.

The StatsCan report, based on the 2016 census, defines high-skill occupations as those that generally require a university education, such as senior and middle management roles, as well as professions in business, finance, health, applied sciences, education, law, community services, arts and culture.

The report shows a strong link between obtaining a university degree and, before age 45, getting a high-skilled job. The exception was among Filipino, Latin American and black women, whom the report suggested may be vulnerable “to a certain degree of over-education.”

Table 4: Percentage of workers aged 25 to 44 in high-skill occupations among second-generation groups. (Source: Excerpt from Statistics Canada analysis.)

One of the paradoxical findings in the report is that there is not always a direct parallel between getting a university education, obtaining a high-skill job and achieving a strong salary.

“All second-generation groups, both men and women, had higher university completion rates than third-plus generation whites,” write Chen and Hou. Many of the minority cohorts had twice the university completion rate of whites whose parents are not immigrants.

Yet the veteran researchers found university-educated second-generation male Chinese and South Asians end up having roughly the same annual earnings — in the low-$60,000 range — as male whites whose parents have resided in the country for decades.

The levelling out of annual wages among the different ethnic and immigrants cohorts is partly owed to the way the Statistics Canada report tallies only people who obtain university degrees, not those who finish college or technical-school degrees or diplomas.

Chen and Hou note the children of the Canadian-born tend to go to colleges. Other demographers point to how white Canadian males are increasingly avoiding university and finding employment in the trades, such as plumbing, carpentry and electronics, which can often be well compensated compared to jobs in the arts, community and culture sectors.

One factor that might hold back some second-generation Canadians could be language. Chen and Hou suggest male offspring of Latin American and Southeast Asian immigrants end up earning less per year than most males, roughly $45,000 annually, in part because they tend not to speak English at home.

Women in general also earn less per year than most males, regardless of immigration status, according to the Statistics Canada analysis, which suggests that “discrimination” and “cultural factors” could be relevant in regards to the differences between male and female annual earnings.

All in all, data show offspring of immigrants are doing either decently or exceptionally in both higher education and the job market. And this StatsCan analysis of the 2016 census complicates the picture of who is flourishing and struggling in the Canadian workplace.

Source: Douglas Todd: Offspring of Chinese and South Asian immigrants reaping high-skilled jobs

Douglas Todd: Who cares about ‘winning’ the immigration debate?

Good for the Conference Board for inviting some more critical or sceptical voices like Todd (whose articles, as you know, I always find interesting).

On polling data, the picture is more complex than simply presenting one polling firm where the timing, question phrasing and methodology may somewhat skew results (e.g., Environics and Pew present a more positive portrait than IPSOS).

And not sure that immigration policy is developed in any less transparent manner than any other area of government policy, and where stakeholder groups, who follow the issues carefully, have more influence:

Politicians and corporations that want more immigrants in Canada are mounting marketing campaigns to “win the immigration conversation.”

At least the CEOs, think tanks and civil servants are upfront about aiming to promote higher immigration levels, which aligns them with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.

Where, however, does this leave all the Canadians in the mushy middle? That’s where most Canadians are at, according to immigration department officials and other migration experts who spoke at a Conference Board of Canada event held last week in Vancouver. The gathering was titled, “Winning the Immigration Conversation.”

Not many Canadians are extremists, either for or against current immigration policy or rates, polls suggest. The bulk of the population seems hazy about Trudeau’s plan to continue to increase immigration levels to 350,000 people a year by 2021, up from 260,000 when he was elected in 2015.

My sense is most Canadians are not eager to either “win” or “lose” the immigration discussion. Most of us don’t think immigration boils down to an either/or option. Some of us mostly want to know what’s going on, so we can be informed at the ballot box.

But as some speakers at the Conference Board event noted, Canada’s politicians and mandarins are almost unique in the obscure way they dictate the country’s powerful immigration policies from behind closed doors.

Kareem El-Assal, the senior immigration director for the Conference Board, asked me to speak at the “Winning the Immigration Conservation” conference so participants would not end up in the usual echo chamber, in which everyone basically agrees with each other.

El-Assal had seen my 2017 story on the clubby atmosphere that reigned among the more than 1,000 Canadians who work with immigrants, refugees and international students and attended Montreal’s Metropolis Conference. My article on that gathering was headlined, “The narrow view from the migration sector bubble.”

So I give credit to the corporate-sponsored Conference Board, a booster of high immigration levels, for welcoming diversity of opinion. It turned out some scholars, and even some civil servants, had their own skepticism about Canada’s immigration levels, which are arguably the highest per capita in the world.

I told participants I’m intrigued by philosophy’s two foundational questions: What is real? And how then shall we live? And I bring those questions to immigration matters.

What I’ve discovered in recent years on the migration beat is the vast majority of native Canadians (and to a lesser extent immigrants) don’t have a grasp on what is real about the increasing global migration of people, particularly into Canada. And it’s understandable.

Even though the Conference Board has launched its own campaign for increased immigration, El-Assal revealed data showing most Canadians don’t have the foggiest idea about a basic issue: How many immigrants come into Canada each year.

Only nine per cent of Canadians knew correctly it is between 150,000 and 300,000 annually. What’s worse, El-Assal said, when Canadians learn how many immigrants are actually entering the country, their support goes down.

“The populists may have a point,” Antje Ellerman, a political scientist at UBC, told the Conference Board gathering.

“Canada has a high degree of (immigration) policy-making behind closed doors.” The immigration agenda has “traditionally been dominated by the government and civil servants, and rarely engaged the public in meaningful ways.”

In addition, the complexities of immigration rules are not often covered by the media. That is the unfortunate case even though, for instance, almost half the populations of Toronto and Vancouver are foreign-born.

One concern is that if Canadians are purposely being kept in the dark about immigration developments, and even opposition politicians are afraid of raising the subject for fear of being labelled xenophobic or racist, how can the host society make wise choices about an issue that has defined the country?

Turns out many Canadians are concerned. Only 45 per cent believe immigration is “good for the economy,” according to a new Ipsos poll. Another 57 per cent believe “immigrants place too much pressure on public services,” be that health or transit systems. And almost 60 per cent say government is “hiding the true costs to taxpayers and society.”

Immigration officials are not alone in finding in the past couple of years that there has been a shift among Canadians about immigration. That is part of the reason Ottawa has launched a promotional campaign called #immigrationmatters.

Its public relations effort is getting out stories about immigration successes, especially at the neighbourhood level. Not a discouraging word will be heard from #immigrationmatters, of course, since it will support a major plank in this year’s Liberal campaign.

However, Ellerman is among those who think it unwise for governments in Canada, Europe or elsewhere to ignore the populist voices that worry about immigration. To do so, she said, could feed anti-immigration radicalism.

UBC economics professor David Green offered the audience some data-based realities about immigration.

One finding takes issue with frequent claims by Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen that high immigration is the key to economic prosperity. Green highlighted how immigration has an almost imperceptible effect on long-term Canadian wages, not doing anything at all for per-capita income.

And although boosters of strong immigration frequently maintain it is absolutely necessary to counteract an aging Canadian labour force, Green’s studies show its effect is minimal, almost non-existent.

Immigration numbers would have to jump multiple times over to make even a small dent in the growing portion of seniors in Canada, Green said. In addition, most people who obtain citizenship status in Canada soon try to sponsor older family members to join them.

But immigration is not all about economics. Many of the speakers recognized reliable new opinion surveys show much of the public resistance to high immigration has mostly to do with culture.

Roughly one in two Canadians fear too many immigrants “do not adopt Canadian values.” Many in the host society feel they are losing command of their own cultural identities. Some migration specialists said such feelings should not necessarily be dismissed as xenophobic.

Give the swirl of powerful factors at play, what are we to make of efforts by Ottawa and its supporters to “win the immigration conversation”? Even though organizers of the Conference Board event said they came up with the title to be provocative, I’d say immigration policy needs more balanced attention than that found in win-lose campaigns.

In a democracy, the public could use as much information as possible about migration policy and trends. Who knows what would happen if Ottawa became more transparent? Reality has a funny way of surprising all of us.

Source: Douglas Todd: Who cares about ‘winning’ the immigration debate?

Douglas Todd: B.C. launches rare immigration plan for small towns

Seems like most governments are now developing comparable initiatives: the federal government with the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and the just announced Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, the Alberta UCP’s proposed program, and Manitoba’s approach to the Provincial Nominee Program.

The numbers are small in terms of total immigration but nevertheless can be significant for rural communities:

The B.C. government is venturing out on a rare Canadian effort to lure immigrants to the struggling hinterlands.

Aware that the vast majority of immigrants to the West Coast move into hectic Metro Vancouver, the B.C. government is launching a pilot program to lure entrepreneur immigrants to cities of less than 75,000 people that are distant from major urban centres.

Bruce Ralston, the minister of jobs, trade and technology, said 30 city mayors are already on board with the pilot program, which will give preferential treatment to well-off newcomers who commit to setting up a business in and living in a rural community for at least three years.

Maintaining that B.C.’s overall fertility rates are declining, the website for the so-called entrepreneur immigration regional pilot adds that small cities “face the additional challenge that young people are leaving for larger centres to find opportunities.”

The federal government’s immigration program has never put much effort into directing immigrants to rural areas, largely because immigrants have mobility rights under Canada’s charter and can move wherever they want.

But many migration specialists have urged Canada to develop incentives to shift immigrants to small towns, since 80 per cent of immigrants end up choosing the country’s major cities. About six in 10 recent immigrants squeeze into the three biggest metropolises, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

Manitoba is one of the few innovative provinces that has used its own immigration scheme to divert new workers away from Winnipeg to towns such as Winkler and Altona. And after B.C. quietly announced it’s pilot small-city program months ago, Alberta Opposition Leader Jason Kenney this week promised something similar.

“This has not been tried before in B.C.,” said Ralston, noting that B.C.’s current provincial nominee program, which is sanctioned by the federal government, brings in about 6,000 potential immigrants a year.

The majority come from Asia; choosing Metro Vancouver for the wide job variety and the cultural familiarity of living in a place that already has large populations of Chinese, South Asians, Filipinos, South Koreans and other ethnic groups.

“This pilot program is designed to get people to commit to small communities. They would have to establish a business and stay for a minimum of one year until they obtain permanent resident status, which usually takes another 18 months,” Ralston said .

“Once they have permanent residency the law says they can move wherever they want. But we think the stickiness of establishing a business in a warm community that would be enthusiastic and would wrap their arms around you would be important.”

The pilot program, which may initially accept a couple of hundred applicants, requires would-be immigrants to first visit their chosen community, invest a minimum of $100,000 in a business, have a net worth of at least $300,000 and create at least one job.

The pilot program also requires the applicant to understand English, which, controversially, has not been expected of the hundreds of newcomers welcomed in recent years through B.C.’s existing provincial immigration program for entrepreneurs.

The B.C. government intends to work closely with small-community officials to make the program work and help new arrivals connect with members of their diaspora group, said Ralston. The entrepreneur immigrants will not be allowed to start certain businesses, such as real estate development, bed and breakfasts or hobby farms.

Asked how B.C. officials will monitor whether participants actually live in the towns in which they start a business, Ralston said, “The communities have an interest in this working. The monitoring will be done by the mayors and councils and communities themselves. So if it doesn’t work, I will hear about it pretty fast.”

Simon Fraser University political scientist Sanjay Jeram is one of those who have encouraged Canadian jurisdictions to follow the lead of European nations and create incentives for immigrants and others to settle outside metropolises.

The fact most immigrants to Canada move to Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary adds undue pressure not only to those cities’ housing costs, Jeram said, but to infrastructure, such as traffic and transit.

The inter-provincial migratory flows within B.C. travel many complex directions, however.

Even while it’s accurate to say some young people are leaving rural B.C. towns, a recent Statistics Canada report showed that Aboriginals and whites are leaving Metro Vancouver for other regions of B.C. (especially the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan).

A net total of 9,345 whites and 460 Indigenous people left Metro for other parts of the province in the one-year period ending July, 2016, according to a 2018 Statistics Canada report. The two other demographic groups that are tending to say goodbye to Metro Vancouver are those born in Canada and those between ages 55 and 65.

However, the idea that governments can encourage more immigrants, and perhaps the native-born, to make their lives in the small towns of Canada appears to be picking up steam in Canada, at least provincially.

The idea gained a boost this week when Kenney, a former federal immigration minister who now leads Alberta’s United Conservatives, announced a government led by his party would launch an immigration plan that would attract newcomer entrepreneurs to rural Alberta, in order to get “the best bang for the buck” on who settles in the province.

Meanwhile, Manitoba has been successfully focusing on attracting would-be immigrants to rural towns who are skilled workers, not wealthy business people. While Ralston said a similar small-city program for skilled newcomers has been discussed, he first wants to find out whether the two-year entrepreneur pilot program works in B.C.

dtodd

Source: Douglas Todd: B.C. launches rare immigration plan for small towns