ICYMI: Australia lifts permanent immigration by 35,000 to 195,000

Of note:

The Australian government announced on Friday it will increase its permanent immigration intake by 35,000 to 195,000 in the current fiscal year as the nation grapples with skills and labor shortages.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil announced the increase for the year ending June 30, 2023, during a two-day summit of 140 representatives of governments, trade unions, businesses and industry to address skills shortages exacerbated by the pandemic.

O’Neill said Australian nurses have been working double and triple shifts for the past two years, flights were being canceled because of a lack of ground staff and fruit was being left to rot on trees because there was no one to pick it.

“Our focus is always Australian jobs first, and that’s why so much of the summit has focused on training and on the participation of women and other marginalized groups,” O’Neil said.

“But the impact of COVID has been so severe that even if we exhaust every other possibility, we will still be many thousands of workers short, at least in the short term,” she added.

O’Neil said many of the “best and brightest minds” were choosing to migrate to Canada, Germany and Britain instead of Australia.

She described Australia’s immigration program as “fiendishly complex” with more than 70 unique visa programs.

Australia would establish a panel to rebuild its immigration program in the national interest, she said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Thursday, the first day of the Jobs and Skills Summit, that 180,000 free places would be offed in vocational education schools next year at a cost of 1.1 billion Australian dollars ($748,000) to reduce the nation’s skills shortage.

Australia imposed some of the strictest international travel restrictions of an democratic country for 20 months early in the pandemic and gradually reopened to skilled workers from December last year.

Source: Australia lifts permanent immigration by 35,000 to 195,000

David: Les pommes québécoises et les oranges suisses [immigration], Yakabuski: In Quebec, immigration takes centre stage again on the campaign trail

More on Quebec election immigration debates, starting with Michel Davidd:

François Legault a cette fâcheuse habitude de prendre des raccourcis intellectuels qui déforment la réalité à sa convenance, comme il le fait presque quotidiennement dans le dossier du troisième lien.

Pour justifier sa décision de limiter le nombre d’immigrants à 50 000 par année alors que le gouvernement Trudeau prévoit en accueillir jusqu’à 450 000 pour l’ensemble du Canada, le chef de la CAQ a fait valoir les avantages des petits pays comme la Suisse et les États scandinaves.

Personne ne doute de leur extraordinaire réussite dans une multitude de domaines où une population plus nombreuse peut compliquer les choses. Il est clair que la taille n’est aucunement un gage de richesse ou de qualité de vie.

M. Legault sait cependant très bien qu’il compare des pommes et des oranges quand il établit un parallèle entre des États qui détiennent tous les attributs de la souveraineté et une simple province dont les pouvoirs sont limités, notamment en matière d’immigration. Que leur voisin allemand ouvre les vannes de l’immigration n’empêche en rien la Suisse ou le Danemark de fixer leurs propres règles sans provoquer chez eux un quelconque déséquilibre démographique ou politique.

Il va de soi qu’une explosion du nombre d’immigrants au Canada anglais, alors que le Québec choisit de le limiter, ne peut qu’affaiblir son poids au sein de la fédération et rendre encore plus difficile sa capacité d’affirmer sa différence.

Et suivre le mouvement canadien, ce qui imposerait au Québec d’accueillir 100 000 immigrants par année, compromettrait encore plus sûrement son caractère français, dont les chiffres du dernier recensement ont encore démontré la fragilité.
* * * * * 
Même dans un État souverain, la capacité d’intégration des nouveaux arrivants a ses limites. En avril dernier, la première ministre suédoise, Magdalena Andersson, déclarait que son pays « n’avait pas réussi à intégrer les nombreux immigrés qu’il a accueillis au cours des deux dernières décennies, ce qui a donné naissance à des sociétés parallèles et à la violence des gangs ».

Issue du Parti social-démocrate, Mme Andersson n’est pourtant pas une politicienne de droite adepte de la théorie complotiste du « grand remplacement ». La Suède s’est montrée très généreuse — peut-être trop — lors de la crise migratoire de 2015, en étant le pays européen à accueillir le plus grand nombre de migrants par habitant. « Nous allons devoir revoir nos vérités antérieures et prendre des décisions difficiles », a relevé la première ministre.

Le Québec n’est évidemment pas seul à tenter de concilier le désir de préserver son identité et la nécessité de répondre aux besoins du marché du travail. Au
Danemark, également dirigé par une première ministre sociale-démocrate, Mette Frederiksen, une politique migratoire très restrictive se traduit par un taux de chômage très bas et un manque criant de main-d’oeuvre.
* * * * * 
S’il est difficile pour un État souverain de trouver le juste équilibre, cela devient pratiquement impossible pour le gouvernement qui ne dispose pas de tous les éléments pour résoudre l’équation.

Il y a quelque chose de surréaliste dans le débat sur les seuils d’immigration auquel la présente campagne électorale donne lieu. Chaque parti semble tirer un chiffre de son chapeau, bien qu’il n’ait aucun pouvoir sur la sélection de la moitié de ceux qu’il compte accueillir et ne soit pas en mesure d’évaluer la capacité d’intégration de la société québécoise.

Au-delà de la « compatibilité civilisationnelle » évoquée par le Parti conservateur du Québec, il va de soi qu’un plus grand nombre de personnes exige plus de logements, de places en garderie, de travailleurs de la santé, d’enseignants, etc. Ce qui exige précisément de disposer de tous les outils nécessaires.

Le rapatriement des pouvoirs en matière d’immigration est la seule réclamation commune aux cinq partis, qu’ils soient fédéralistes ou souverainistes. Mais le refus d’Ottawa demeure toujours aussi catégorique.

Jean Charest avait espéré que Stephen Harper fasse preuve d’ouverture. François Legault avait misé sans trop y croire sur Andrew Scheer, puis sur Erin O’Toole. S’il devient premier ministre, Éric Duhaime se fait fort de convaincre Pierre Poilievre et ses homologues conservateurs au Canada anglais. Cela demeure bien hypothétique, c’est le moins qu’on puisse dire.

De passage à la table éditoriale du Devoir, mardi, le chef conservateur a proposé une démarche commune de tous les partis représentés à l’Assemblée nationale, ce qui apparaît déjà plus plausible, sans toutefois offrir la moindre garantie de succès.

Depuis le début de la campagne, M. Legault n’a pas reparlé de la grande conversation nationale sur l’immigration qu’il avait évoquée au printemps dernier sans en préciser la forme, mais il faudra bien faire quelque chose. Si cet exercice pouvait simplement permettre de séparer les pommes et les oranges, ce serait déjà quelque chose.

Source: Les pommes québécoises et les oranges suisses

And from the Globe’s Yakabuski, a good overview:

It wouldn’t be an election campaign in Quebec without a debate about immigration.

Elsewhere in the country, elections come and go without much talk about immigration. A broad consensus exists on the topic across the political spectrum and political parties rarely, if ever, seek to differentiate themselves on the issue. That, it seems, is the Canadian way.

In Quebec, however, immigration has become a hot-button issue that features prominently in party platforms. The issue played a determining role in the 2018 campaign as the Coalition Avenir Québec’s signature promise to slash the number of newcomers the province accepts each year propelled it to victory over the Quebec Liberal Party. Under then-premier Philippe Couillard, the Liberals had set an annual target of 60,000 permanent residents; the CAQ, under François Legault, vowed to cut the number to 40,000. It crushed the Liberals.

Within a couple of years, though, the CAQ government increased its annual target for new permanent residents – to 50,000 – and oversaw an explosion in temporary foreign workers to help alleviate a severe labour shortage amid a clamouring for employees from the business sector. The somewhat ironic result is that Quebec has seen a greater influx of foreigners under the CAQ – to more than 93,000 in 2019 and 100,000 expected this year – than it ever did under the Liberals. Proof that there is a lot more than meets the eye on the immigration file.

The nuances get lost on the campaign trail, however, as the parties once again go at each other over immigration levels in advance of the Oct. 3 provincial election.

Mr. Legault maintains that the CAQ’s 50,000 cap on permanent residents represents the number of newcomers the province can integrate each year without threatening its French character. On Monday, he conceded that Quebec’s population is destined to continue to decline as a share of the Canadian population as Ottawa boosts national immigration targets to 450,000 permanent residents in 2024. But that is the price Quebec must pay to remain an island of French in North America.

Besides, small is beautiful. “Switzerland is an extraordinarily rich, and extraordinarily dynamic, small country,” Mr. Legault said. “Being big might be nice, but what’s important is having a [high] quality of life for the people who live in Quebec.”

But maintaining Quebeckers’ quality of life will become an increasing challenge as the province’s working-age population shrinks and the proportion of seniors rises to 24.8 per cent in 2030 from 20.3 per cent in 2021, according to the Quebec Finance Ministry’s own projections. With a population aging faster than the rest of the country outside Atlantic Canada, future economic growth will be severely handicapped.

That reality has not stopped the sovereigntist Parti Québécois from vowing to cut immigration levels further – to 35,000 permanent residents annually, or less than 8 per cent of the Canadian total – if it wins on Oct. 3. At that rate, Quebec’s share of Canada’s population (which now stands at 22.5 per cent) would likely plummet even more rapidly than it is forecast to fall under Statistics Canada’s most recent projections, which show it falling to 19.8 per cent by 2043.

To back up his plan, Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon has referred to a study produced this year for the Quebec Ministry of Immigration by economist Pierre Fortin that disputes the argument that higher immigration levels are needed to address labour shortages as “a big fallacy,” since an influx of newcomers creates demand in the economy that serves to exacerbate shortages for workers, housing and health care.

Prof. Fortin’s study is especially critical of Ottawa’s immigration targets, arguing they will lead to “bureaucratic congestion and confusion,” produce scarce economic benefits, and increase the “social risk of stoking xenophobia and encouraging a rejection of immigration.”

Under leader Dominique Anglade, the Liberals are proposing to boost the number of permanent residents Quebec accepts to 70,000 in 2023. It would determine immigration levels beyond that year in conjunction with the province’s 17 regions in a bid to get more newcomers to locate outside the greater Montreal area.

The far-left Québec Solidaire has adopted the most ambitious immigration targets of all the parties, promising to welcome up to 80,000 permanent residents to the province annually. That would still not be enough for Quebec’s population growth to keep pace with the rest of Canada, but the figure clearly sets QS apart as the most unabashedly pro-immigration party in this election campaign.

When the CAQ leader challenged QS co-spokesperson (and de facto leader) Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois to explain how his party would slow the decline of French in Quebec with such high immigration levels, he responded with a zinger: “The difference between Mr. Legault and me is that he points fingers and I open my arms.”

Source: Opinion: In Quebec, immigration takes centre stage again on the campaign trail

ICYMI: Yakabuski: Can Canada handle its coming population boom?

Valid question. Alternative question: Is the coming population boom good for Canada and Canadians?

The latest projections from Statistics Canada show that Canada’s population is poised to grow much faster over the next two decades than the federal agency forecast just three years ago, suggesting any downturn in the country’s housing market is likely to be short-lived.

Indeed, the revised Statscan figures released last week underscore the need for policy makers to clear the way for more housing and infrastructure projects now to accommodate a fast-growing national population that is projected to increase by around 10 million people by 2043.

Statscan normally updates its population projections every five years. But the agency undertook a “necessary” revision of its 2019 projections this year “to reflect recent developments in Canadian demographics,” including the pandemic and Ottawa’s move to increase immigration targets. While the longer-term impact of the pandemic on population growth is expected to be “rather imperceptible,” the opposite is true for the higher immigration levels.

In February, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government announced plans to boost immigration levels “to help the Canadian economy recover and to fuel post-pandemic growth,” following a sharp drop in the number of newcomers arriving in Canada in 2020. Immigration rebounded in 2021, with a record 405,332 new permanent residents arriving here. And Canada is set to welcome about 432,000 new permanent residents this year, 447,000 in 2023 and 451,000 in 2024.

National Bank of Canada economists Matthieu Arseneau and Alexandra Ducharme noted that Canada’s population will increase by one million more people by 2032 than Statscan previously projected. Almost all of that extra growth will occur among those aged between 25 and 54 years old – an age cohort that is “crucial to the resilience of consumption and real estate.”

Royal Bank of Canada economists Robert Hogue and Carrie Freestone came to a similar conclusion even before the release of Statscan’s updated population projections. In a mid-August report, they projected that Canada will count 730,000 more households by 2024 than it had in 2021, as the country welcomes more than 1.3 million new immigrants.

“This surge, combined with shrinking household sizes, will strengthen demand for housing (whether owned or rented) and act as a powerful counter to sliding sales and prices – eventually putting a floor under the correction,” they wrote.

The updated Statscan projections highlight the urgency for policy makers to plan for what is expected to be the highest population growth among the Group of Seven countries over the next two decades and beyond. Based on the federal agency’s medium-growth scenario, Canada’s population is projected to grow to 47.8 million in 2043 from 38.2 million in 2021.

Ontario is expected to add more than four million new residents over the next 20 years, with its population rising to 19 million from 14.8 million. Canada’s most populous province will see its share of the national population increase to 39.8 per cent from 38.8 per cent.

Even so, Ontario’s 28-per-cent population growth over the next two decades is expected to pale compared with a 46-per-cent surge in Alberta, which will see its population grow to 6.5 million by 2043 from 4.4 million. Albertans will account for about 13.5 per cent of Canada’s population in 2043, up from 11.6 per cent in 2021.

However, Quebec’s share of the Canada’s population is set to fall below 20 per cent for the first time, as the province (which chooses its own economic immigrants) accepts proportionally fewer newcomers than the rest of the country. From 22.5 per cent of Canada’s population in 2021, Quebec will see its share decline to 19.8 per cent by 2043. Quebec’s overall population will grow by less than 10 per cent over the same period, to 9.4 million.

The Atlantic provinces will benefit from interprovincial migration levels that will be higher than those forecast before the pandemic, but not enough to reverse a decline in the region’s share of the national population. Newfoundland and Labrador’s population will shrink outright.

Ottawa’s higher immigration targets will on their own not be enough to ease the country’s labour shortage, as more and more Canadians retire in coming years. Even more aggressive immigration levels would be needed to reverse the aging trend that will see the share of the population over 65 increase steadily over the next two decades to 23.1 per cent in 2043 from 18.5 per cent in 2021.

The average age of Canadians, which increased from 27.3 years in 1921 to 41.7 years in 2021, will rise further to 44.1 years by 2043. And while about 871,000 were over 85 in 2021, their ranks will swell to more than 2.2 million by 2043.

Still, Canada’s population projections tell a rather enviable story compared with many European countries, where population aging is occurring at a much faster rate amid lower immigration levels. The question is whether policy makers here can move fast enough to prepare the country for its coming population boom.

Source: Can Canada handle its coming population boom?

Daphne Bramham: With Canada failing to meet its immigration promises, B.C. needs more control

The British Columbia perspective, similar to that of Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

One idea that has been suggested by some is the Provincial Nominee Program should be used for regulated professions (e.g., healthcare, some trades) given that regulatory bodies are provincial, not federal.

Definitely worth consideration as the federal government’s progress on foreign credential recognition appears to have been more about process and consultations than concrete action. Making the provinces directly responsible for selection of applicants in regulated professions might simplify accountabilities:

Across B.C., “Help Wanted” signs are ubiquitous. Labour shortages have forced businesses to drastically cut their hours, hospitals and emergency rooms to close, as well as planned and unscheduled cancellations of B.C. Ferries sailings.

Despite grumbled anecdotes about people not wanting to work, B.C. has one of Canada’s highest workforce participation rates.

Bear in mind that last year, B.C. also had the highest number of new arrivals recorded in 60 years — 100,797 people. International migration was the second-highest recorded, while cross-country migration was the highest in nearly 30 years.

Even with that, and despite a seemingly intractable, affordable-housing crisis, the fact is B.C. needs more people to fill essential jobs.

And that is exactly why the provincial government wants Ottawa to give it more control over who comes here, and is asking for more money to help settle all the newcomers.

Last year, only 6,750 people came under the provincial nominee program that allows provinces to select applicants whose skills and training match labour needs. Next year, it wants 8,000 nominees, and 10,000 three years from now.

It made the request ahead of Thursday’s meeting of federal and provincial immigration ministers.

Nathan Cullen is B.C.’s municipal affairs minister and has responsibility for immigration. He describes the program as “more precise” than other immigration programs, noting that B.C.’s priority last year was health-care and long-term care workers.

“(The nominee program) is not a blunt instrument, which is what a federal immigration program is by its nature,” he told Postmedia before leaving for the federal-provincial meeting in New Brunswick.

“We’ve just heard from Ontario and they’ve been making similar requests of the feds to gain a little bit more control over what happens.”

As a former MP, Cullen isn’t certain how much of its “cherished authority” Ottawa is willing to give up. But he hopes to convince Federal Minister Sean Fraser that expanding the nominee program, which has a much faster turnaround time than myriad other immigration streams, will help clear the backlog of applications that is nearing two million files.

The benefit isn’t just a bureaucratic one. With skills matched to jobs, it should also mean that highly skilled newcomers don’t end up driving taxis instead of doing the jobs they are trained for.

Of course, there is a huge caveat that Cullen readily acknowledges. Canada is glacially slow in recognizing internationally obtained credentials — especially for physicians and surgeons. Here, he said it can take up to three times as long as in other G20 countries — “And if you’re slow in this kind of world, it means you just don’t get the person at all.”

The minister plans to raise that at Thursday’s meeting, along with concerns about what might best be described as Canada’s “do-it-yourself” immigration offer to Ukrainians.

Within days of the Russian invasion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered safe haven and a pathway to citizenship to all Ukrainians who could find their own way here.

“We’re not ready for them, and we need the feds to be,” Cullen said. “(Federal politicians) have had time. There’s no more excuses like, ‘It’s all happening so fast.’ That’s done. They’ve had the time and the program has not been set up properly yet.”

With the usual processes waived, Ukrainians are arriving and often there is no one to meet them. Nobody knows when they are coming, where they are landing, or even how many of the six million who have fled might end up here as Russia intensifies its attacks.

Earlier this year, B.C. shored up settlement societies with nearly $15 million because the number of immigrants and refugees arriving is beyond the capacity that Ottawa has funded them for. And last month, the province set up a hardship fund for Ukrainians offering up to $1,770 a month for a family of four.

Ukrainian-Canadians have also stepped in to fill the gaps since the only federal help Ukrainians get is a two-week housing allowance.

Still, with no contact point with any agency or government, vulnerable women, children and unaccompanied minors are open to exploitation. It’s something that keeps Cullen awake at night.

Already, his officials had to rescue one family who had found rental accommodation on social media. When they arrived, the landlord confiscated their passports and tried to restrict their movements. Fortunately, they had a contact in the Ukrainian community who got in touch with the ministry.

Meanwhile, immigrants are enduring months-long waits in overcrowded hotel rooms in dangerous neighbourhoods because there is nowhere else to go until settlement societies or concerned citizens manage to scrounge something better. Sometimes, it’s from developers waiting for demolition permits.

Cullen insists that recent increases in housing starts and measures his government has taken to get unused housing into the rental pool is starting to make a difference. But he said it is still going to take more time to even out.

Immigrants also need health care and schools for their children. Those, too, are provincial costs.

So far, the federal government has failed to match its immigration promises and targets with the money necessary to properly fulfill them.

Small wonder that the provinces want more control and more money.

“We have to match the story we want to tell about ourselves as being a generous, open country … with the resources and the determination that’s required,” Cullen said.

And right now? That’s not happening.

Source: Daphne Bramham: With Canada failing to meet its immigration promises, B.C. needs more control

Bahran: If Canada wants to be strong economically, it needs more immigrants, plain and simple

Standard general call for more immigrants without considering the externalities and costs:

Canada is a vast beautiful country with an economy that has a huge potential to grow, provided it has sufficient labour markets. That is why I argue for more immigrants. Canada needs more immigrants if it wants to maintain and improve its standard of living.

The labour shortage that has been aggravated during the pandemic is not over. According to Statistics Canada, there were 915,500 unfilled positions in the fourth quarter of 2021. That’s up by 63 per cent compared to 2020. Jobs are also staying vacant for longer periods. Shortages were large before COVID but made worse during the pandemic.

The obvious reason is: Canada’s population remains small and must grow to meet economic growth needs. It is a reality that Canada’s population growth comes from immigration — addressing labour shortages in key sectors such as health care. Immigrants make up 37 per cent of the country’s pool of pharmacists, 36 per cent of physicians, 39 per cent of dentists, 23 per cent of registered nurses, and 35 per cent of nurse aides and related occupations.

Although, it has the highest population growth of any G7 country, Canada has under 0.5 per cent of the world’s population, with one of the smallest population densities on Earth (about four people per square kilometre). In fact, it is more than an order of magnitude smaller than the world’s average population density which is about 50 people/square km. India, China, and the U.S. have 464, 149 and 121 people/square kilometre respectively. Bear in mind that Canada is the second-largest country, geographically, in the world. Although huge parts are inhabitable, there is a plenty of room for those four/square km to grow manifold times.

The U.S. is the leading economy worldwide, but most economic forecasts predict a great shift in world economic power. Some estimates suggest that by 2050, China’s and India’s economies will surpass that of the U.S., while Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico will surpass Japan, Germany, the U.K., Russia, France and Canada combined. The overwhelming factor in this is population growth.

Many western countries are aging with a rate proportional to their level of advancement. People are living healthier and longer while younger people tend to either not get married or not have large families. This leads to a shrinking workforce and will have a direct impact on economic growth. Japan, for example, is becoming greyer than ever, with about 30 per cent of its population over 65 years of age. Its population actually dropped by some 640,000 in 2021. Italy is not far behind, at 23 per cent, and Germany is third at 21 per cent. They represent the most aging countries in the world and are a direct example to watch to see the effect this will have on economic growth and wellbeing: facing severe shortages in the labour market, and higher social-service costs.

Japan happens to have a near-zero immigration policy and if that continues, soon enough it will face dire consequences. Canada’s over-65 population is not small either. In 2020 it was more than 18 per cent and within eight years is expected to reach 23 per cent. Clearly, current policies are not good enough to address this issue and population growth must be accelerated.

Of course, it is imperative to reconcile population growth with limiting our per capita carbon footprint. Economic growth and wealth production are the key for such reconciliation. Migration is also a historic mechanism for reducing high population growth in low-income countries, through which we can adjust imbalances that help stabilize economic growth everywhere.

Last but not least, in addition to the economic and humanitarian reasons, immigrants make Canada stronger — as they embrace the richness of equity, diversity, and inclusion of our character and values.

Mustafa Bahran is a visiting professor and instructor of physics at Carleton University.

Source: Bahran: If Canada wants to be strong economically, it needs more immigrants, plain and simple

Augmenter l’immigration ne réglera pas la pénurie de main-d’oeuvre, maintient Jean Boulet

Quebec takes a very different tack than the rest of Canada.

Will provide an opportunity for some interesting comparative analysis on outcomes between the consensus in English Canada in favour of ever increasing immigration and the more restrictive approach of Quebec.

In the longer term, Quebec’s importance in relation to the rest of Canada will continue to decline and at some point, there will likely be less support for maintaining the number of Quebec MPs:

Québec tient coûte que coûte à maintenir ses seuils d’immigration aux niveaux actuels malgré une pénurie de main-d’oeuvre qui n’est pas près de se résorber.

En entrevue bilan avec Le Devoir, le ministre du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale justifie l’intention de son gouvernement de maintenir le rythme d’accueil actuel, malgré l’accumulation des postes vacants — on en comptait plus de 224 000 au premier trimestre de 2022. « Moi, j’ai toujours dit : “les seuils ne bougent pas” », répète-t-il.

« On a encore du travail d’intégration, d’amélioration des problématiques de surqualification. […] C’est : “en prendre soin” », ajoute le ministre, en écho au leitmotiv électoral de sa formation politique en 2018.

En mai, le ministre Boulet avait ouvert la porte à réviser à la hausse le plafonnement des entrées migratoires. Une étude du démographe Marc Termote lui recommandait alors d’augmenter les seuils de 8000 nouveaux arrivants en cinq ans. Après avoir qualifié cette analyse de « raisonnée et raisonnable », M. Boulet avait finalement rebroussé chemin sur Twitter.

« Je me suis mal exprimé et j’ai été mal compris lorsque j’ai été questionné par des journalistes. Ce n’est pas acceptable de recevoir 58 000 immigrants chaque année », avait-il écrit.

La conversation sur ces seuils a repris de plus belle cette année. Alors que la Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) privilégie le statu quo, le Conseil du patronat du Québec recommande d’accueillir au moins 80 000 immigrants annuellement, et même de « tendre vers » les 100 000. Le Parti libéral du Québec (PLQ) s’est déjà mouillé : un gouvernement piloté par Dominique Anglade irait jusqu’à 70 000 entrées par année en début de mandat.

En matière d’immigration, la CAQ privilégie une renégociation de l’entente Canada-Québec, qui régit le partage des compétences entre les deux ordres de gouvernement. Elle se positionne aussi en faveur du rapatriement des programmes de réunification familiale et de travailleurs étrangers temporaires, parce que le gouvernement fédéral « est incapable de livrer », insiste Jean Boulet.

« Les admissions sont faites par Ottawa, et les seuils ne sont même pas atteints à ce moment-ci », soutient-il. Selon l’élu responsable de la région de la Mauricie, les solutions à la pénurie de main-d’oeuvre se trouvent partout : travailleurs de plus de 65 ans, personnes judiciarisées, personnes en situation de handicap… Il suffit de les attirer avec les bons incitatifs.

Quelques options

Chez les travailleurs expérimentés, soit ceux qui ont passé l’âge de la retraite, la popularité du marché de l’emploi donne confiance à M. Boulet. Ils étaient plus de 194 000 travailleurs de 65 ans et plus le mois dernier, soit 20 000 de plus qu’il y a trois ans. Intrigué par le potentiel de productivité de cette tranche de la population, le ministre n’exclut pas d’agir pour repousser l’âge de la retraite. « On est en réflexion constante », dit-il.

Le ministre Boulet a déjà laissé entendre que la pénurie de main-d’oeuvre était là pour de bon, du moins à moyen terme. En s’appuyant sur les calculs de démographes, il anticipe un « creux historique » en 2030.

« C’est un phénomène qui devient de plus en plus aigu, qui a été accentué par la pandémie. Et ça va continuer », admet-il au téléphone.

L’élu caquiste n’est « pas du tout défaitiste ». « Notre taux d’emploi chez les 15 à 64 ans, il est quand même le plus élevé au Canada », soulève-t-il. Le nombre de prestataires de l’aide sociale s’est d’ailleurs abaissé de 23 % de janvier 2018 à janvier 2022, se réjouit le ministre.

Des enfants derrière la caisse

Une seule chose tracasse Jean Boulet : le recours aux moins de 14 ans sur le marché du travail. La Loi le permet, mais cette tendance s’est trop accélérée au goût du député de Trois-Rivières. « Le travail des jeunes ne doit jamais nuire à la persévérance scolaire. […] Pour moi, je l’ai déjà mentionné, ce n’est pas normal qu’un jeune de 11 ans travaille », lance-t-il.

Québec ne détient pas de statistiques sur l’emploi des plus jeunes. Statistique Canada non plus. Mais M. Boulet constate un rajeunissement du bassin d’employés. « Il y a des cas, par exemple dans des restaurants, où des jeunes de 11 ans peuvent travailler dans des cuisines près d’équipements qui peuvent comporter un certain danger », s’inquiète-t-il.

Pour mieux « encadrer le travail des enfants », le ministre envisage de légiférer, si son parti est reconduit au pouvoir en octobre.

La plateforme caquiste sera rendue publique au cours des mois prochains. Déjà, le PLQ a présenté la sienne, qui prévoit un congé de cotisations au Régime de rentes du Québec pour les 62 ans et des places en services de garde à 8,70 $ « pour tous ».

Québec solidaire (QS), le Parti québécois (PQ) et le Parti conservateur du Québec (PCQ) n’ont pas non plus déposé leur programme électoral. QS s’est toutefois engagé à obliger les entreprises à offrir quatre semaines de vacances par année à leurs employés après un an de services. Le PQ prévoit notamment dans son « projet national » de « réformer le processus de reconnaissance des diplômes ». Le PCQ souhaite, entre autres, revoir à la hausse le crédit d’impôt au prolongement de carrière des travailleurs d’expérience.

Source: Augmenter l’immigration ne réglera pas la pénurie de main-d’oeuvre, maintient Jean Boulet

Will Canada welcome over 500,000 new immigrants per year?

Real question is should Canada welcome over 500,000 new immigrants per year given the externalities involved (e.g., housing, transit, infrastructure, environmental impact etc):

Minister Sean Fraser believes Canada’s immigration levels will surpass 500,000 per year “sooner rather than later”, but the minister cautioned that future increases must be done in a careful manner that supports the needs of communities across the country.

The immigration minister was in Toronto last week to speak at Collision, a global technology conference. Following his speaking engagement, he sat down with CIC News for an in-depth conversation on the future of Canada’s immigration system.

Canada now seeking over 430,000 immigrants annually

Prior to the pandemic, Canada was seeking over 340,000 new immigrants per year but immigration fell in 2020 due to travel restrictions and Canadian government officials needing to work remotely. In October 2020, Canada announced it would seek over 400,000 immigrants annually beginning in 2021 to support its post-COVID economic recovery. Canada ended up exceeding its target by landing a record 405,000 new permanent residents last year.

In February, Fraser tabled Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024. Canada is now seeking over 430,000 immigrants per year and will target 450,000 by 2024.

Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025: Over 500,000 new permanent residents per year?

Fraser is due to announce updated targets yet again by this November 1st, when he announces the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025.

Although it is still too early to finalize the 2023-2025 plan, CIC News asked Fraser to share his early thoughts on the plan, and more specifically, whether he was working towards getting the annual target to over 500,000 per year.

“Look, I wouldn’t put it on the clock. I think we will get there. We’re growing in excess of 1% of our population through the existing track. That trajectory is going to continue. I don’t know the exact year we’re going to cross that threshold [500,000 immigrants per year]. It’s going to be based on the needs of communities.”

“It’s not a point of pride that I have to be the minister that gets to 500,000…what’s important to me is that I’m meeting the needs of communities and giving them the opportunity to experience success through our immigration system. If that means we have to welcome 500,000 new permanent residents in a calendar year, then that’s great. And I’m very happy to advance that.”

“My sense is we’re going to get there sooner rather than later, because the needs and opportunities associated with welcoming newcomers are great. And if we can ensure we do not exceed our absorptive capacity of our communities on our way to getting there, then this is going to be a huge strategic advantage for Canada.”

Fraser is aware of the importance of providing enough supports to Canadians and newcomers alike

Among the major immigration levels considerations is Canada’s capacity to provide the necessary infrastructure and supports to its existing population as well as new arrivals.

While speaking on stage at Collision, the minister was asked whether he felt Canada had enough housing available to accommodate its rising immigrant population.

The minister replied this issue is top of mind with his federal colleagues in Ottawa. Our conversation on housing usually goes as follows. Ahmed, will you be able to build houses fast enough for Canada’s new immigrants? He replies, Sean, will you bring immigrant workers into Canada quickly enough to build the houses?”

Source: Will Canada welcome over 500,000 new immigrants per year?

‘Politically invisible’: temporary immigration soars in Quebec as official targets left unchanged

More on the Institut de Quebec report. Given that similar increases in temporary workers occurs in the rest of Canada, it may be time for the immigration levels plan to include temporary residents (IMP, TFWP and students) to provide a more comprehensive picture):

While Quebec’s official immigration targets have remained largely stable in recent years, the real number of newcomers in the province has surged due to an increasing reliance on temporary workers who often face more precarious conditions and long waits for permanent residency, a recent study has revealed.

The publication by the Institut du Québec found that while non-permanent residents represented nine per cent of international immigration to the province from 2012 to 2016, that number had climbed to 64 per cent by 2019.

Three experts who spoke with The Canadian Press said the growth in temporary immigration can help companies meet their needs in a tightening labour market, but the province needs to do more to adjust to the new reality in order to better serve both newcomers and its own goals.

Source: ‘Politically invisible’: temporary immigration soars in Quebec as official targets left unchanged

Quebec should ‘ideally’ aim for 100000 immigrants per year, says CPQ

Not surprising. Just as in English Canada, some of the biggest boosters of increased levels are from the business community, both large and small:

Quebec should aim to welcome 100,000 immigrants per year, according to the Conseil du patronat (CPQ).

The number is almost twice the threshold set by the Quebec government.

The CPQ made the request in a white paper on immigration made public Monday.

A little over a week ago, the Conseil du patronat, along with employer organizations, had instead suggested a threshold of 80,000 newcomers per year to alleviate labour shortages.

But in its white paper, the CPQ now believes that Quebec should ideally aim for 100,000 immigrants.

According to recent data, there are no less than 240,000 positions to be filled throughout Quebec. The economic community is pushing the Legault government to admit more immigrants.

Despite the government’s current efforts to fill jobs, nearly a quarter of the current vacancies cannot be filled, which represents 300,000 jobs over the next five years, the CPQ calculates.

Immigration is “both unavoidable and fully necessary,” the employers’ organization argues.

Source: Quebec should ‘ideally’ aim for 100000 immigrants per year, says CPQ

Quebec opposition party wants non-polarized debate on immigration

While it appears that the PQ is likely to suffer further setbacks in the election, will be interesting to see if immigration becomes an issue in the election or related issues like Bill 21.

That being said, the questions they ask also apply to Canada’s immigration policies, where the impacts and externalities are not being discussed enough:

With five months to go before the provincial elections, the debate on immigration has been revived.

The Parti Québécois (PQ) is opposed to employer groups’ demand to increase the current 50,000 immigrants per year to 80,000, or even 90,000.

The sovereigntist party is calling for a “serious” discussion based on “factual and scientific” data.

PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon was reacting to the Conseil du patronat and Manufacturiers et exportateurs du Québec’s (MEQ) calls for a considerable increase in the annual immigration threshold to fill the labour shortage.

In a Canadian Press interview on Sunday, the PQ leader argued that despite the constant increases in the number of immigrants admitted to Quebec over the past 30 years, the demand for workers has nevertheless not subsided. The so-called solution has not solved the problem, he said.

What’s more, the considerable increase claimed would only increase the demand for services such as family doctors, places in public daycares (CPEs) and housing, said immigration lawyer Stéphane Handfield, who is the PQ candidate in Masson in the October elections.

“Are we doing new immigrants a favour if we don’t take these issues into account in our reception and integration capacity?” said Handfield.

SCIENCE OVER IDEOLOGY

“We want a debate based on science and not on ideology or false premises,” said St-Pierre Plamondon.

He called for caution to avoid any slippage in this debate, which has had unfortunate precedents.

“The simple fact of asking questions about raising the immigration threshold leads to innuendo about the intolerance of those who ask the questions, it creates a climate that is not serene,” said St-Pierre Plamondon.

“Historically, there has been a lot of ideology and stigmatization” on the issue of immigration, and this ends up harming “the right of Quebec to take its own direction,” said the PQ leader.

St-Pierre Plamondon criticized the suggestion that as soon as Quebec does not align itself with the Canadian federal model of admitting more and more newcomers, it is accused of being racist, even though immigration is partly within its jurisdiction.

QUESTIONS TO ASK

The PQ leader has many questions.

For example, does welcoming more immigrants create more wealth? Does it really increase the gross domestic product per capita?

“We want to study the macro-economy objectively,” he said, demanding more answers.

Handfield also wants to know what the impact of increased immigration is on the linguistic dynamics? What is the impact on the housing crisis? Does it lower the average age of the workforce?

“I’ve never seen a study that says here’s why we need 30,000 or 40,000 immigrants, or here’s how we manage to justify that number,” said Handfield. “How much does it cost to integrate each immigrant? We always hear the same thing: 80,000 immigrants per year and all the problems will be solved.”

Currently, there are no less than 240,000 vacant positions to be filled in Quebec, according to data from the Institut du Québec.

Employers’ associations are calling for a catch-up in immigration to make up for the labour scarcity and the delay caused by the closing of borders during the pandemic.

Their consensus is 80,000 per year, but MEQ president Véronique Proulx said the organization would be willing to go to 90,000, almost double the current threshold of 50,000 per year.

The Legault government has not given its official answer.

St-Pierre Plamondon reiterates that he is committed to setting the acceptable threshold for his party by the election campaign.

Source: Quebec opposition party wants non-polarized debate on immigration