As Quebec cuts immigration, statistics foreshadow demographic crunch

Good overview of the numbers:

As Premier François Legault prepares to cut immigrationby about 20 per cent, new statistics indicate Quebec has the oldest inhabitants in Canada and its overall population is growing at a slower pace than most other provinces.

The figures may lend credence to critics of the Coalition Avenir Québec plan, including the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal and Quebec’s largest employer group, who say cutting immigration could exacerbate a demographic and labour crunch.

Quebec will cut the number of new arrivals by more than 10,000 a year — from 53,300 in 2018 to between 38,000 and 42,000 in 2019. There is no indication when or if the number will be raised in the future.

On Thursday, the Institut de la statistique du Québec published its annual demographic update — a snapshot of Quebec as of Jan. 1, 2018. Here’s some of what it revealed:

8.3 million

Quebec’s population in 2017. It grew by 85,700, or one per cent. That’s a growth rate of 10.3 per 1,000 people, which is lower than the provincial average (13 per 1,000). Only New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia had lower growth rates than Quebec. Ontario registered the biggest increase: 15.6 per 1,000.


22.6

Percentage of Canadians who live in Quebec. That figure has remained steady in recent years. But since the early 1970s, Quebec’s proportion of Canada’s population has fallen by more than five percentage points (from 27.9 per cent in 1971). Meanwhile, Alberta’s has increased by four points and Ontario’s has jumped by three points. The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal has urged Quebec to increase immigration to 60,000 per year in part to maintain the province’s demographic weight. A further drop in Quebec’s weight could mean less political clout within Canada when new seats are added to the House of Commons.


18.5

Percentage of Quebec’s population 65 or older. Across Canada, the average is lower – 17 per cent. In addition to having more older inhabitants, Quebec also has fewer residents 20 or younger (20.6 per cent, compared to 21.6 per cent across Canada).


83,900

Number of babies born in Quebec in 2017. That’s 2,400 fewer than in 2016. Quebec’s fertility rate was 1.54 children per woman, slightly more than the Canadian average of 1.49. Quebec was in the middle of the pack — five provinces had lower rates and four have higher rates.


32

Percentage of babies born in Quebec last year who have at least one parent born outside Canada. In most of these cases, both parents were born elsewhere. This trend has grown steadily in recent years. In 1980, 13 per cent of babies had at least one foreign-born parent. By 2000, the figure had jumped to 21 per cent.


52,407

Number of immigrants who arrived in Quebec in 2017. That’s a decrease of 850 compared to the previous year. Quebec welcomed 18 per cent of the immigrants who came to Canada, less than its demographic weight (it has just under 23 per cent of Canada’s population). Quebec took in 6.3 immigrants for every 1,000 current residents. That’s lower than the Canadian average (8.3 per 1,000) but higher than the United States (3.5 per 1,000). Almost 60 per cent of Quebec’s new immigrants were in the 20-to-44 age group. Seventy-three per cent of immigrants who arrived in Quebec in 2015 still lived in the province in 2017.


5,108

Number of immigrants who came to Quebec from China, the single biggest source of newcomers in 2017. They represented 10 per cent of new immigrants. In second and third spot: France (8.6 per cent) and Syria (seven per cent). The previous year, the order was: Syria, France, China.


22,232

Number of Canadians from other provinces who moved to Quebec. That’s the highest number in more than a decade. The surge helped reduce the net outflow of residents to other provinces. In total, 6,500 more people left Quebec for other parts of Canada last year than arrived in Quebec from other provinces. That’s the smallest interprovincial population loss since 2011. Most between-province moves involve the 401. In 2017, 12,500 Ontario residents moved to Quebec, while almost 19,000 Quebecers relocated to Ontario.

Source: As Quebec cuts immigration, statistics foreshadow demographic crunch

Quebec announces reduced immigration targets, fuelling tensions with Ottawa

To watch.

Any reopening of the agreement to provide Quebec a role in family reunification and refugees would need to be accompanied by reopening the block grant of $490 million provided to Quebec (2017-18) for selection and integration (see Chantal Hébert’s earlier column By campaigning to cut immigration, Quebec’s opposition parties are playing politics with their province’s future):

Quebec plans to slash the number of immigrants it accepts next year, delivering on an election promise by Premier François Legault and setting the province on a collision course with Ottawa.

The Quebec government announced targets on Tuesday to reduce the number of newcomers to 40,000 in 2019, 24 per cent fewer than the 53,300 anticipated this year.

The plan is turning into the first major source of tension between the federal Liberals and the new Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government, just three days before a federal-provincial meeting in Montreal.

While the biggest drop in numbers would occur among qualified workers and other economic immigrants, which are under provincial control, Quebec also wants to cut into two streams of newcomers that fall under federal control: family reunifications involving spouses, children and parents, which would see 2,800 fewer immigrants, and refugees and asylum seekers, which would be cut by 2,450 people.

Groups working with immigrants and refugees called the CAQ plan “cruel” and said it is already stirring panic among families in Quebec who fear they will not be reunited with loved ones abroad.

The CAQ is also facing criticism for the cuts because Quebec is struggling with a chronic manpower shortage.

In Ottawa on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised questions about the timing of the plan.

“What I hear from business people across Quebec is that companies are worried about a labour shortage. I’m not sure that this is the best moment to reduce the intake of newcomers,” he told reporters.

Mr. Legault campaigned on a pledge to reduce immigration, arguing that one in five immigrants ends up leaving Quebec. He has framed the cuts not just in terms of better matching newcomers to the needs of the labour market, but as a way of safeguarding Quebec’s identity, values and French language.

The federal government said it will continue to hold discussions with the Quebec government on the issue, including defending the integrity of the family reunification program.

“We are disappointed,” Dominic LeBlanc, the federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday. “We don’t want a two-tier system in which families in Quebec need more time to bring in their spouses and parents than those in New Brunswick or Ontario. That’s not an ideal situation.”

Mr. LeBlanc added that both the Quebec and Canadian governments should make sure they meet their international obligations in terms of taking in refugees.

Mr. Legault said his government was elected after campaigning on lower immigration levels.

“We have a clear mandate from the population,” he said outside the National Assembly. “The population clearly understood that a CAQ government will reduce the number of immigrants to 40,000. … I trust the good judgment of the federal government.”

Quebec says the reduction will be temporary, with Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette calling it a “transition.”

“Faced with the difficulties of integration for a large number of immigrants, we had to act and have the courage to take the means to favour their long-term settlement in Quebec,” he said at a news conference.

In the legislature, he said: “What we want to do is deploy the resources to ensure each person who chooses Quebec succeeds.”

The government’s plan was denounced by an umbrella organization for groups working with immigrants and refugees in Quebec. The Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes called the plan “cruel” and unprecedented in Quebec’s history of immigration policy.

“This decision of the government is creating a wind of panic among numerous families that we are meeting in our organization,” said Lida Ahgasi, co-president of the Table, in a statement. “It’s a totally counterproductive decision, since we know that successful integration can only be accomplished within the family. If we want to take care of newcomers, we especially have to respect and protect the integrity of their family unit.”

At their first meeting after the Oct. 1 Quebec election, Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Legault tried to negotiate a deal on immigration. However, Quebec decided on numbers without informing the federal government of its intentions ahead of time. Under the 1991 Canada-Quebec immigration deal, federal funding to facilitate the integration of immigrants in Quebec will still go up next year, even though the intake numbers will go down.

Source: Quebec announces reduced immigration targets, fuelling tensions with Ottawa

John Ivison: Will the Canadian consensus on immigration fall victim to Liberal bungling on border-crossers?

Ivison on the Michelle Rempel’s critique of the Liberal government’s immigration policies and approach and their communications challenges.

Federal immigration minister Ahmed Hussen’s announcement last week that Canada will increase its immigration target to 350,000 by 2021 seems designed to flush out the Conservatives.

With Maxime Bernier’s fledgling party promising to cut the number of permanent residents arriving in Canada from the current target of 330,000 next year to around 250,000, there is growing pressure on the Conservatives to follow suit.

The party’s immigration critic, Michelle Rempel, admits it might be the politically expedient thing to do. “If I was taking the easy route, I’d just say ‘Cut immigration’ … But the reality is we have to reform the system. It isn’t working by any metric,” she said in an interview.

Rempel said she is desperate to avoid what she called an “Americanized” debate about immigration levels.

“What Bernier doesn’t understand is that for the people looking at his party, there is only one number that is sufficient — and that’s zero,” she said.

An August survey by the Angus Reid Institute set off alarm bells that the consensus that has characterized Canadian attitudes towards immigration for the past four decades is in danger of shattering.

The poll found that the number of respondents who felt immigration levels should stay the same or be increased, which has registered at over 50 per cent for forty years, had fallen to 37 per cent. Half of those surveyed said they would prefer to see the federal government’s 2018 immigration target of 310,000 new permanent residents be reduced.

Rempel said the consensus is under pressure because the Liberals have bungled aspects of immigration policy like the “irregular” border-crossing file.

“The consensus is not breaking down, but the public is looking at what is happening with the asylum seekers and they don’t think the social contract criteria are being met,” she said. “The debate shouldn’t be about numbers but about the process by which we set those numbers.”

It’s clear that immigration will be one of the key battlegrounds in the 2019 election. The Conservatives would seek to close the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that allows people to enter Canada illegally from upstate New York, and expedite the removal process of those people whose refugee claims were rejected. Rempel admits there is also pressure coming from within her own caucus to put a number on what immigration levels would be under a Conservative government.

“But I’m not going to treat this like an auction for votes,” she said, noting that on the Syrian refugees issue, her party had pledged to admit 10,000, which persuaded the NDP to raise its commitment to 15,000 and the Liberals to trump them all with a promise to admit 25,000. Yet, as she points out, unemployment rates among Syrian refugees remain stubbornly high more than two years after most arrived.

“It’s irresponsible to set a target without ascertaining how much it will cost to adequately process the huge backlog of asylum seekers,” she said.

Unlike many other centre-right parties, the federal Conservatives have long been pro-immigration. In 2015, levels remained at a historically high rate, with 271,833 new permanent residents landing in Canada.

During the Harper government’s term of office, 2.8 million people arrived as permanent residents in Canada, mainly from countries like the Philippines, India, China and Pakistan.

The mix was heavily weighted towards those chosen for their skills and education levels— in 2015, 63 per cent were economic class migrants, 24 per cent arrived under the family reunification program, and 13 per cent were refugees.

The consensus is based on a broad recognition that Canada’s worker to retiree ratio — 4.2:1 in 2012 — is set to decline precipitously to 2:1 by 2031.

It is widely understood that a decade after they arrive the labour force participation rates for immigrants is comparable to those who were born in Canada. And it is accepted that immigrants and the children of immigrants are generally better educated that the Canadian-born population (almost half have a bachelors degree, compared to one quarter for the latter).

But the complexion of the immigration system is set to change. The mix planned by the Liberals will by 2021 see economic class migrants fall to just 51 per cent of the total of 350,000, with family reunification numbers increasing by more than one third to account for nearly 30 per cent of the total and refugee numbers rising by 44 per cent to reach 19 per cent of the total.

[Note: The levels plan shows that the percentage of economic class immigrants is essentially flat at 57-58 percent, compared to the low 60s during the Conservative government).

The increased number of family members admitted into the country is likely to play well in ridings with large immigrant populations — as it did in the 2015 election.

But irregular migration is not playing well with anybody — particularly not immigrants, who see asylum-seekers as queue-jumpers, nor Quebecers, who are bearing the brunt of the refugee tide.

The government has allocated an extra $440 million to improve processing and settlement programs, and an additional $173 million specifically to manage irregular migration levels. A further $50 million has been given to provinces to pay for temporary housing for “irregular” migrants.

But as Rempel pointed out, throwing money at the problem does not make it go away. “The issue for many people is that they see higher numbers (of illegal migrants) at Roxham Road, and the higher social costs, and say we should reduce numbers,” she said.

Rempel is trying to hold a line that is under pressure from “open borders” policy on the left and “closed borders” policy on the right.

She needs to sharpen her messaging, if she is to succeed in persuading Canadians this is not just a numbers game.

But it is a line worth holding.

The debate over immigration in Canada has not descended into bigotry and resentment because it has worked for four decades. As Stephen Harper noted in his recent book, Right Here, Right Now: “Make immigration legal, secure and, in the main, economically-driven, and it will have high levels of public confidence.”

But public support is on the decline thanks to illegal migration, porous borders and an increase in the proportion of non-economic migrants.

Rempel’s argument is that Trudeau has lost the “social license” to increase immigration levels and only the Conservatives can restore it. Whether that can be done without giving a number on entry levels remains to be seen.

Source: John Ivison: Will the Canadian consensus on immigration fall victim to Liberal bungling on border-crossers?

Conservative immigration critique of the levels plan

When one takes away the partisan sniping, and the points that are easy to say but hard to implement (e.g., closing the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement with the Trump administration), the main points boil down to:

  1. establishing metrics to determine levels with transparent consultations with industry and provinces (agree, but all parties in opposition promise more transparency than they deliver once in power);
  2. Greater focus on privately sponsored refugees compared to government sponsored refugees or asylum seekers, a valid policy choice but the anti-United Nations role in selecting refugees is more playing to the base and picking up the tone of some of the debates South of the border;
  3. Promise to have difficult conversations regarding Temporary Foreign Workers to address concerns that Canadians are not first matched with available work; and,
  4. Vague language around economic levels matched to regions, and not providing a specific number (when in power, the percentage climbed to about 60 percent from about 55 percent, under the new levels plan, it will climb to 72 percent). Historic data shows that immigration has substantially responded to regional demands in the West, thanks in part to the Provincial Nominee Program but always important to consider and respond to regional needs.

As to numbers pulled out of a hat, my understanding is that has been longstanding practice under both Conservative and Liberal governments, so while I agree with her in substance, I am sceptical as to possible implementation:

So what would a Conservative government do differently? What levels would we set?

At the end of August, I sat in this very room and outlined some key changes an Andrew Scheer led government would make to Canada’s immigration system. To recap, our approach to setting immigration would:

  • First recognize that how we allow people to enter the country, and who we allow to do so, matters. Justin Trudeau has failed to recognize this principle.
  • End the practice of setting immigration levels by an auction for votes or a seat on the UN Security Council.
  • Immediately seek to dramatically decrease the number of people entering Canada illegally via upstate New York and subsequently claiming asylum. We would do so by seeking to close the loophole in the safe third country agreement, and significantly expedite the processing and removal of those who Trudeau allowed in. The lengthy process between entering Canada illegally and being removed, all while being able to access social welfare programs, is an incentive for this behaviour that must be ended. It is not acceptable that Trudeau has planned on this being a permanent situation.
  • We would also establish a set of metrics to determine what Canada’s immigration levels should be, based on transparent principles, with integration and self-sufficiency at the forefront. For Canadians to see immigration as a positive thing, they should be able to easily see the employment and social welfare statistics for immigration levels for any given year and stream.
  • We would also establish a transparent system for consulting with industry and the provinces to set immigration levels.
  • We would focus on setting humanitarian immigration levels that focus on higher utilization of the privately sponsored refugee program, where individual Canadians through their own funds, not taxpayer funds, support the entry of refugees, and would restrict the utilization of the government assisted refugee program to instances of the four atrocity crimes.
  • We would end the practice of allowing the United Nations to be the sole agency for selecting humanitarian immigrants to be resettled to Canada, and we would not cede our sovereign right in setting immigration levels to this agency.
  • We would reform the Temporary Foreign Worker program and not shy away from difficult conservations [nice to know even MPs occasionally make typos – should be conversations] around employment insurance, working conditions, and wage depression associated with the program and other reasons why Canadians don’t take or aren’t skilled for certain jobs, and ensure that Canadians are first matched with available work.
  • We would also change our immigration programs and support to better focus economic immigration levels and retention to regions with acute labour shortages. It is not enough to cite the Conference Board of Canada in saying that the economy needs more immigrants; immigration levels should be set to ensure that newcomers are matched with jobs in regions where Canadians are not out of work.

In short, a Conservative government would not pull a number out of the air in terms of how many people we would allow into the country. The number we would present to Canadians would be shaped by the above principles, and would be answered as follows:

  • There are X number of job vacancies in a certain industry or region, here’s the reason why Canadians aren’t doing the job, here’s what we did to try to fix that problem, and as such we are allowing X number of people to enter Canada, with X skill set, to fill this need. Then we would track our outcomes to make sure our programs are working.
  • On the humanitarian side, we would not allow people to enter Canada illegally and abuse our asylum system. The target number for that stream of entry should be zero. All other targets would be met by gaining consensus from Canadians that we should help a certain cohort of people (for example, genocide survivors), and then gaining consensus from Canadians on how much money we should spend to support the initiative, in terms of the cost of integrating into Canada, and in the context of putting the needs of Canadians first. We wouldn’t take a false morally superior position that excludes Canadians from helping to decide how our humanitarian immigration system should function, and be funded.

The levels Justin Trudeau has put forward in this report are unfocused, unplanned, and ill thought out. There is no justification included herein on how he would change the system to make it more just, fair, or lawful. It is simply a continuation of his failed  immigration policies. The reality is that Canada can’t sustain high immigration levels under Justin Trudeau’s failed immigration policies. A change in government must occur before Canadians will be able to regain faith in our immigration system.

For all the reasons I’ve given you today, the Conservative Party of Canada strongly opposes the levels set out in this report.

Source: Canada Can’t Sustain High Immigration Levels Under Justin Trudeau’s Failed Immigration Policies

And CTV’s reporting:

One day after the Liberal government unveiled plans to ramp up immigration levels to 350,000 people by 2021, the Conservative immigration critic won’t say what she believes the figure should be.

The number is not the point, according to Michelle Rempel.

“Justin Trudeau has no credibility to set Canada’s immigration levels,” she said Thursday at a news conference.

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen announced on Wednesday that Canada will increase its immigration target to 350,000 by 2021, up from the current level of 310,000.

Hussen told CTV’s Power Play on Thursday that the plan is “responsible and ambitious” and focuses on bringing in “highly-skilled talent that creates middle class jobs for our country.”

“Canadians are asking us to provide them with more workers, more skilled immigrants who can grow our economy and create good-quality, full-time middle class jobs,” Hussen said.

Hussen added that the Federal Skilled Workers program, which offers residency to people like international students who find work, makes up the single biggest component of immigration.

“The vast majority of those folks are people applying from within Canada,” he said. “They already have a job.”

At her press conference, Rempel cited an Angus Reid pollfrom August which found that 49 per cent of Canadians wanted to see the country reduce its immigration intake – up from 36 per cent four years earlier and the highest number in the 43-year period since the question was first asked.

She said that Canadians’ appetite for increased immigration has hit its lowest level on record because of how the Liberals have handled an influx of people crossing the border and claiming asylum.

Federal numbers show that 15,726 people crossed into Canada irregularly at all points in the first nine months of 2018, up from 15,102 in the same time period one year earlier.

The Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States requires most people seeking refugee protection to file their claim in the first of the two countries they arrive in. It means people cannot pass through the U.S. to seek asylum at the Canadian border checkpoint, but does not apply to people who cross at places other than standard border checkpoints.

Rempel argued that people who are not legitimate refugees are taking advantage of the Safe Third Country Agreement “loophole,” knowing that they can live in Canada for years before their claims are even processed.

“Having reached upstate New York, these people are not fleeing persecution and should not be treated as such by Justin Trudeau,” she said.

Rempel said the Conservatives would crack down on irregular border crossings by closing the loophole. The Liberals say they have repeatedly asked the U.S. government to reopen the agreement.

Rempel also accused the government of spending “hundreds of millions” to normalize the crossings, including $50 million on temporary accommodations for people. Many of them are now living in Toronto hotels.

Hussen told Power Play that the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) is in charge of deciding whether irregular border crossers are legitimate refugees and that those who are not legitimate refugees will be told to leave.

“We’ve reinvested in the Canadian Border Services Agency as well as the IRB to make sure that these claims are heard expeditiously,” Hussen said.

“A big percentage of those found not to be genuine refugees voluntarily leave Canada,” he added.

Rempel also singled out the temporary foreign worker (TFW) program for criticism. Under the government’s new plan, the number of migrant workers allowed into the country will rise to nearly 250,000.

Rempel said that the TFW program was “rife with abuse,” and that it lowered wages and working conditions while keeping certain jobs out of the reach of out-of-work Canadians.

“That this government has made no move to radically change Canada’s economic dependence on this abusive and ill-thought-out system also undermines the credibility of the numbers in this levels report,” she said.

She said the Conservative preference would be to have migrant workers instead “settling in those communities and staying employed” – or to have those positions be filled by people already in the country.

“Is there a way that we can reform that program such that Canadians are matched with those jobs?” she added.

A Conservative government would also look to increase the focus on having refugees be sponsored privately by Canadian citizens, with the government-assisted refugee program being reduced to people fleeing the “atrocity crimes” of war crimes, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide, according to Rempel.

Source: Rempel says Trudeau has ‘no credibility’ on immigration

Australia: Immigration levels reach 10-year low under Peter Dutton’s new rules

Significant shift:

The number of people permanently migrating to Australia has dropped 10 percent, with official figures reaching the lowest level in more than a decade.

Tough new vetting rules imposed by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has seen the annual intake cut by 21,000 people.

A crackdown on fraudulent claims and more visa refusals has also contributed to the drop, the largest in more than 10 years.

Immigration now stands at less than 163,000 people annually from a previous peak of 190,000. The 2007-08 recorded intake was 158,630.

Dutton’s new integrity measures have also led to a 46 percent rise in visa refusals and a 17 percent increase in application withdrawals.

The number of people permanently migrating to Australia has dropped 10 percent, with official figures reaching the lowest level in more than a decade. Picture: AAP

“The government has had real focus on making sure not only we restored integrity to our border but (also) to our permanent migration program,” Mr Dutton told 9NEWS’ Ben Fordham.

“Looking more closely at the applications that are made. Making sure that we’re bringing the best migrants possible into our country.

“In the end we want our migration program to work in our country’s best interests.”

Mr Dutton has accused the previous Labor governments of “ticking and flicking applications”, claiming that the Turnbull government on the other hand is applying close scrutiny to all applications.

“If we’re right, we end up with a better migration intake,” he said.

The changes have seen an annual fall in skilled migrations by more than 12,000.

Mr Dutton previously suggested a drop in the official migrant ceiling from 190,000 to 170,000 to colleagues – though no official attempts to enforce this were made.

The current ceiling was introduced under Malcolm Turnbull, replacing Labor’s generalised “target” of 190,000.

Source: Immigration levels reach 10-year low under Peter Dutton’s new rules

Parental sponsorship rules are antifeminist

Well I suppose. But assuming one needs to have criteria and limits to parental sponsorship in terms of overall levels of immigration (and of course assuming one supports managed immigration and levels), what alternative criteria should one use?

2018 levels plan has target of 6.5 percent for parents and grandparents:

Can you imagine being required to show proof of income of $39,000 a year for three years just to be able to have your parents close by? That’s about how much new Canadians must show to be reunited with parents through Canada’s parental sponsorship program. And only a few thousand Canadians and permanent residents are allowed, each year, to make the application to bring parents and grandparents here. As if that weren’t tough enough, the processing time is so long and the process can be so cumbersome that aging parents might die before the application is processed.

That’s what happened to the Jaffers, a family forcibly displaced from Kenya when they fled persecution of ethnic South Asians, as the Toronto Star’s Nicholas Keung reported in early March. When Shabbir Jaffer applied to sponsor his mother to come to Canada from the UK in 2007, after the death of his father, he did not know that the application would take 11 years instead of the promised 36 months. He did not know that she would be denied on the basis of the possible costs of a medical procedure that, as it turned out, she did not require. He did not know that the family would incur additional costs because of the appeal process, nor that his mother would pass away in January 2018 from pneumonia with the application stuck in processing, so that all these efforts came to naught.

Here’s the problem: simply put, Canada views parents as a burden. Canada’s parental sponsorship system is set up so that we let as few parents into this country as possible. The requirements imposed on a Canadian citizen or permanent resident submitting the application are onerous. The applicant must undertake to provide their parents with financial support for 20 years, show three years’ worth of income of at least $39,000 per annum and hope that they literally win the lottery: applicants first submit an expression of interest, and then are randomly selected (10,000 spots are available in 2018) to be allowed to apply.

Moreover, medical inadmissibility laws remain on the books; they prevent the granting of permanent residence to someone who may cause “excessive demand” on Canada’s health care system. For most aging parents, this is effectively a bar to admission that can be overcome only through an additional costly application on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. That’s why the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has said that medical inadmissibility rules are not aligned with “our country’s values of inclusion of persons with disabilities in Canadian society.” With changes promised by April 2018, Canadians and permanent residents wait for meaningful reform to the discriminatory requirement, eager to be reunited with their families.

Critics argue that liberalizing parental sponsorship will cost taxpayers money, burdening the system with the disproportionate health care needs of parents and grandparents. We know that the cost savings from medical inadmissibility rules are negligible: 0.1 percent of all provincial and territorial health spending. Moreover, most sponsored parents and grandparents arrive in Canada with assets, many find employment upon arrival, and new Canadians are, as a result, able to keep their savings in Canada rather than sending them home as remittances.

The existing program also discriminates against many new Canadians, because a significant proportion are low- and middle-income families unable to afford the high costs associated with sponsorship. Nor can they afford the high-priced “super visa,” which also requires private medical insurance and is often difficult to obtain; what’s more, this channel is currently plagued by a large processing backlog. Further, family separation hurts not just new Canadians but also the economy. It is the cause of anxiety and emotional distress that can lead to more sick days and less productivity.

But these cost arguments do not account for the emotional and child care support that parents provide. By providing mental and emotional support to their children, parents help set new Canadians up for success. Moreover, without affordable child care, many newcomer parents, particularly single mothers, are shut out of the workforce. By making it easier to sponsor parents, the government can uplift an entire cohort of workers otherwise unable to work.

It should be clear, particularly to this government, that existing parental sponsorship rules are decidedly antifeminist. They keep families apart, cost thousands of dollars to newcomers and hold single parents, particularly women, back from success. If the government is serious about governing through a feminist lens, it could start by overhauling this system that creates two tiers of citizens: one of Canadians who have their families here by accident of birth, and one of new Canadians who must pay thousands in fees, wait many years and win a lottery to be reunited with theirs.

Canadians should have the right to be with their children, and children with their parents. The Jaffers told their story in the hope that nobody else will suffer the heartache forced upon them by the Canadian government. As we reflect after International Women’s Day on building a country that is truly feminist, let’s act by reuniting parents with their children.

via Parental sponsorship rules are antifeminist

Tony Abbott repeats claim immigration cut will improve quality of life | Australia news | The Guardian

One could have a similar debate here without being xenophobic (“stagnant wages, unaffordable housing and clogged infrastructure”):

Tony Abbott has seized on Peter Dutton’s claim that Australia needs to cut its migration intake and signalled he will renew his push to do so by linking migrant numbers to quality of living issues.

On Monday the former prime minister said he would make the case for cutting migration to improve “stagnant wages, unaffordable housing and clogged infrastructure” in a speech in Sydney on Tuesday.

The speech coincides with Malcolm Turnbull’s trip to the US to meet Donald Trump and picks up on themes from Abbott’s “conservative manifesto” launched in 2017, viewed as a critique of Turnbull government policies.

Abbott told 2GB Radio that the “gossip” regarding Barnaby Joyce and politicians’ private lives was a “very serious distraction” to issues including power prices, wages, housing prices and traffic congestion that the government “should be attending to”.

Asked about Jim Molan’s first Senate speech in which the conservative Liberal called for a reassessment of migration levels, Abbott said the program must be run “in Australia’s national interest”.

“Just at the moment we’ve got stagnant wages, unaffordable housing, clogged infrastructure and there is no doubt the rate of immigration impacts on all of these things.”

Abbott said that immigration had averaged 110,000 a year for most of the life of the Howard government and since 2006 “it’s been running at double that rate”.

“That means every five years we are adding – by immigration alone – a city the size of Adelaide to our population.”

Abbott said the level of immigration was “very, very high”, “absolutely unprecedented by historical standards” and “on a per capita basis, vastly higher than any other developed country”.

According to the parliamentary library, an average of 107,000 permanent migrants and people on humanitarian visas entered Australia a year between 1996 and 2006 compared with 190,000 a year from 2006 to 2016.

However, the average in the Howard government was weighed down by low results in the early years. By 2006-07, 161,217 people came to Australia on permanent or humanitarian visas, almost as high as during the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments and Abbott and Turnbull Coalition governments, when it ranged up to 200,000.

The net overseas migration figures were 114,000 a year between 1996 and 2006, and 220,000 a year from 2007 to 2015.

However, from 2006 onwards, estimates for net overseas migration included people who stayed in Australia for 12 months or more, who were added to the population. This means the figures after 2006 are boosted by temporary migrants who later become permanent residents or citizens.

In his book Choosing Openness, Labor’s shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh noted that, according to an OECD survey of academic studies, migrants had minimal impact on housing prices.

Of the OECD’s 28 studies on immigration and wages, 13 reported no effect, seven a small positive effect, and eight a small negative effect, he said.

Abbott qualified his remarks by saying he was “all in favour of immigration but it has to be the right immigration, under the right circumstances, that’s right for our country, including the recent migrants”.

“I think the current rate of immigration does need to be looked at again – that’s what Peter Dutton seemed to be suggesting on Ray’s program last week.”

On Thursday Dutton said Australia must reduce its intake of migrants “where we believe it’s in our national interest”.

Dutton said it was a “perfectly legitimate argument” that Australia’s cities were “overcrowded” including “gridlocked traffic in the mornings”.

“We have to reduce the numbers where we believe it’s in our national interest,” he said. “It’s come back considerably and if we have to bring it back further, if that’s what required and that’s what’s in our country’s best interests … that is what we will do.”

After the Turnbull government recorded its 27th consecutive Newspoll loss on Monday, Abbott said it was “very dangerous and counterproductive” to get rid of a leader “on the basis of a poll, or the basis of 29 polls”.

“It was the prime minister who made the polls this kind of a test, and really it’s the prime minister who has elevated polling into the be-all and end-all,” he said.

via Tony Abbott repeats claim immigration cut will improve quality of life | Australia news | The Guardian

ICYMI – New immigration quotas: Too low and no long-range plan: Saunders

Saunders critiques the modest increase in levels against the perspective of his Maximum Canada:

Two shocking facts about the Liberals’ new immigration targets: First, they’re not high. Not by any measure. And second, they’re not well-planned.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen’s announcement of a gradual increase in immigration numbers drew the usual mix of alarmist and exultant headlines: More than a million newcomers by 2020! Saved from the devastation of an aging population! But Mr. Hussen was proceeding with the sort of tiptoe-step caution that has come to characterize his government. His plan is to raise skilled and family immigration by far less than 1950s, 1980s or 2000s increases, while letting refugee numbers fall back to their usual tiny slice of the immigration pie (after a 2016 peak caused by the Syrian emergency). It’s not out of line with the immigration and population-growth thinking of every Tory and Liberal government of the past half century.

Indeed, the initial response from the Conservatives, via immigration critic Michelle Rempel, was not to criticize the numbers as too high but to predict that the Liberals will be incapable of meeting their economic-immigrant targets and filling the labour shortages that both parties complain about. The NDP response, also reasonable, was that more of those immigrants need to be less-skilled, because that’s also where our economy needs people.

Both Mr. Hussen’s proposal and the opposition responses are based on the most short-term vision of immigration: filling jobs now and meeting demographic challenges a decade from now. What is missing is the longer view of a larger, more sustainably populated Canada – one that concentrates rather than sprawls, one that uses population growth for ecological efficiency rather than waste. (This also happens to be the subject of my new book, Maximum Canada). We can hope that some such plan is in the works.

In the meantime, it’s best to think of Mr. Hussen’s targets as a temporary holding pattern. Since the late 1980s, Canadian immigration rates have remained fairly consistent, hovering around 0.8 per cent of the population each year (that is, around eight immigrants per 1,000 people). Rates declined somewhat in the 1990s – not out of policy desire (Prime Minister Jean Chrétien wanted that rate to increase to 1 per cent annually), but because the economy was poor, and when that happens, immigrants don’t come. Then they rose again at the turn of the century, and have held at around 0.8.

Canada’s new level of 300,000 makes for an immigration rate of 8.3 per thousand. Mr. Hussen’s gradual increase, to 340,000 per year by 2020, would be a far smaller increase than we saw in one year alone under Brian Mulroney (who raised it by 50,000 in 1986-7) and identical to the one-year rise we experienced in 2000. It would give Canada a rate of 9 immigrants per 1,000 citizens.

That’s not high by Canadian standards, and it sure isn’t by world standards: It’s less than the 2015 immigration rates in Britain (9.7), the Netherlands (9.9), Sweden (13.7) or Switzerland (18.5). This is not mass immigration by any stretch. We tried that a century ago: If we were to have the immigration rate of 1913, we’d have to take in 1.75 million immigrants a year. Nobody is returning to those times.

But we’re stuck with a way of thinking about immigrants that’s often rooted in the previous century.

Canadians, and often their government, still think of immigrants as units of labour to be plugged into factories and labs. But the typical immigrant to Canada today is not an employee; she’s someone setting out to employ people, or at least manage them.

Six out of 10 male immigrants and five out of 10 female immigrants today arrive with university degrees – twice the rate of Canadian-born people. More than half of them own a house within four years of arriving – despite the very high costs of housing in the big cities and their suburbs where immigrants settle.

In other words, we should no longer think of immigrants as sources of (or competition for) jobs, but as primary sources of new economic activity.

On the other hand, we remain mired in another legacy of 20th-century thought: that immigrants will find their way into the middle class on their own.

Children of immigrants do succeed, to an enormous degree. But the first generation tends to get lost, its members often unable to realize their potential as creators of employment. A generation ago, immigrants saw their incomes converge with Canadian averages within 15 years. Today, immigrants are 1.5 times more likely than average Canadians to live in poverty, and twice as likely to earn less than $30,000 a year, after 15 years. Only 24 per cent of immigrants with professional degrees ever get work in that field. We waste talented people.

We need to invest ahead of population growth, so it delivers benefits rather than trapping people in isolation and low incomes. We should not talk about population growth without a significant new cross-government, cross-jurisdiction program to plan and invest for it.

via New immigration quotas: Too low and no long-range plan – The Globe and Mail

2018 Immigration Plan: Higher Levels and a Multi-Year Plan Will Benefit Canada’s Economy

Conference Board reaction to the Government announcement with a good summary. :

On the heels of the Government of Canada’s announcement that it will welcome some 310,000 immigrants in 2018 and is introducing a multi-year levels plan for just the second time in history, the Conference Board’s Craig Alexander offers the following insights:

“Canada’s decision to increase immigration will help sustain long-term economic growth in light of its rapidly aging population and low birth rate. Introducing a multi-year levels plan will improve the ability of governments, employers, immigrant-serving organizations, and other important stakeholders to successfully integrate newcomers into Canada’s economy and society.”
—Craig Alexander, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist, The Conference Board of Canada.

Insights

  • Canada’s 2018 immigration target of 310,000 represents a 19 per cent increase compared with its newcomer intake between 2006-2015.
  • The immigration target will be 330,000 in 2019, and 340,000 in 2020.
  • Canada’s intake is the highest since 1913 and will represent about 0.90 per cent of the population by 2020 which is also high by historical standards. Unlike the past, however, Canada can no longer count on natural increase (births minus deaths) to grow its labour force.
  • Population aging is one of the biggest economic and fiscal challenges facing Canada.
  • An October 2017 report by the Conference Board shows that immigration is a strong driver of Canada’s economy. Today, 75 per cent of population growth is due to immigration. Canada’s population growth will come entirely from immigration as the number of deaths is forecast to outpace births by the early 2030s.
  • In the absence of immigration, economic growth and government revenues would slow, and Canada would struggle to fund vital social programs. Health care, for example, will only become more expensive to deliver as an older population requires more services.
  • Canada is introducing a multi-year levels plan for just the second time in its history. The plan will allow stakeholders to make informed decisions as they seek to integrate newcomers into the economy and society. For instance, city planners can more accurately project how many newcomers will be arriving over multiple years and what sorts of infrastructure investments are required to successfully absorb a larger population.
  • Canada first introduced a multi-year levels plan for the period between 1982-1984 but the onset of a recession effected the federal government’s ability to continue with the plan.
  • Opinion polls show that public support for immigration remains high. To maintain this support, it is essential that newcomers are equipped with the tools that they need to benefit the Canadian economy and complement domestic workers.

Source: 2018 Immigration Plan: Higher Levels and a Multi-Year Plan Will Benefit Canada’s Economy

Canada to admit nearly 1 million immigrants over next 3 years

Good overview with some of the preliminary political reaction. Will be interesting to see how this plays out, but the Conservative focus on integration issues and border controls suggests that the increase itself is not a concern:

Canada will welcome nearly one million immigrants over the next three years, according to the multi-year strategy tabled by the Liberal government today in what it calls “the most ambitious immigration levels in recent history.”

Canadian immigration levels by year

The number of economic migrants, family reunifications and refugees will climb to 310,000 in 2018, up from 300,000 this year. That number will rise to 330,000 in 2019 then 340,000 in 2020.

The targets for economic migrants, refugees and family members was tabled in the House of Commons Wednesday afternoon.

Hussen said the new targets will bring Canada’s immigration to nearly one per cent of the population by 2020, which will help offset an aging demographic. He called it a historic and responsible plan and “the most ambitious” in recent history.

“Our government believes that newcomers play a vital role in our society,” Hussen said. “Five million Canadians are set to retire by 2035 and we have fewer people working to support seniors and retirees.”

In 1971 there were 6.6 people of working age for each senior, Hussen said, but by 2012 that ratio had gone to 4.2 to 1 and projections show it will be at 2 to 1 by 2036, when almost 100 per cent of population growth will be a result of immigration; it stands at about 75 per cent today.

Hussen said immigration drives innovation and strengthens the economy, rejecting some claims that newcomers drain Canada’s resources and become a burden on society.

He said the government is also working to reduce backlogs and speed up the processing of applications in order to reunite families and speed up citizenship applications.

Canadian immigration class levels by year

The federal government’s own Advisory Council on Economic Growth had recommended upping levels to reach 450,000 newcomers annually by 2021. Hussen said the government is taking a more gradual approach to ensure successful integration.

“At arriving at these numbers we listened very carefully to all stakeholders who told us they want to see an increase but they also want to make sure that each and every newcomer that we bring to Canada — bringing a newcomer to Canada is half of the job. We have to make sure that people are able to be given the tools that they need to succeed once they get here,” he said.

Focus on integration: Rempel

Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel was critical of the plan, suggesting the government needs to do a better job of integrating newcomers.

“It is not enough for this government to table the number of people that they are bringing to this country. Frankly the Liberals need to stop using numbers of refugees, amount of money spent, feel-good tweets and photo ops for metrics of success in Canada’s immigration system.”

She said the Liberals need to bring Canada’s immigration system “back to order” by closing the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that has seen migrants cross into Canada at unofficial border crossings only to claim refugee status.

She also said the immigration system should focus on helping immigrants integrate through language efficiency and through mental health support plans for people who are victims of trauma.

Dory Jade, the CEO of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, welcomed the news although he suggested the numbers should be higher.

“Canada will greatly prosper and grow once the 350,000 threshold has been crossed,” he said. “Nevertheless, we are witnessing a very positive trend.”

The Canadian Council of Refugees also welcomed the news, but wanted more, saying the share for refugees was only increased slightly from 13 per cent this year to 14 per cent in each of the next three years.

Calls for longer-range forecast

In past, there has been a one-year figure for how many immigrants will be permitted into the country, but provinces and stakeholders have called for longer-range forecasts.

A statement from Ontario’s Immigration Minister Laura Albanese, before the announcement, said the province supports the introduction of multi-year levels plans “to provide more predictability to the immigration system and inform program planning.”

“Significant variation in year-to-year immigration levels can dramatically impact the requirement for provincial year-to-year resources. A longer term outlook would help in planning for appropriate service levels and use of resources.”

The statement said Ontario supports growth in immigration levels, particularly in economic immigration categories to support the growing economy.

Diversity drives innovation

During the government’s consultation period, the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance presented “Vision 2020,” what it called a “bold” three-year plan to address growing demographic shifts underway in the country, calling for increased numbers in the economic, family and refugee categories.

It recommended a target of 350,000 people in 2018, which climbs to 400,000 in 2019 and 450,000 by 2020.

Chris Friesen, the organization’s director of settlement services, said it’s time for a white paper or royal commission on immigration to develop a comprehensive approach to future immigration.

“Nothing is going to impact this country [more] besides increased automation and technology than immigration will and this impact will grow in response to [the] declining birth rate, aging population and accelerated retirements,” he told CBC News.

Source: Canada to admit nearly 1 million immigrants over next 3 years – Politics – CBC News