Liberal minister says Canada needs more immigration as targets get mixed reviews

Mixed reviews are from me and Ted McDonald of UNB:

As Canada plans to significantly ramp up its immigration levels in the coming years, some policy experts are worried about potential effects on health care, housing and the labour market.

But Immigration Minister Sean Fraser insists that Canada needs more newcomers to address labour shortages and demographic changes that threaten the country’s future.

“If we don’t continue to increase our immigration ambition and bring more working-age population and young families into this country, our questions will not be about labour shortages, generations from now,” Fraser said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“They’re going to be about whether we can afford schools and hospitals.”

In November, the federal Liberal government announced a new immigration plan that would see Canada welcome 500,000 immigrants per year by 2025.

A record-breaking 431,645 people became permanent residents in 2022.

The new immigration rates will be substantially higher than rates in similar countries, such as Australia, said University of New Brunswick political science professor Ted McDonald.

That’s not a bad thing in itself, he said. But in his view, raising immigration levels isn’t the right way to address current labour shortages.

“I think the policy would make more sense if it’s aligned with what are seen as underlying structural labour market shortages that are going to persist,” McDonald said.

At the same, he said one justification for immigration is clear: Canada has a declining birthrate.

According to Statistics Canada, the country’s birthrate fell to a record low of an average of 1.4 children per woman in 2020. That’s well below the 2.1 rate needed to maintain a population without immigration.

That doesn’t stop others from worrying about how more newcomers could put a strain on other perennial issues such as housing affordability and health care.

“There’s no assessment that I have seen of the impact of these targets on housing affordability and availability, no assessment of these targets in terms of additional pressures on health care,” said Andrew Griffith, a former high-ranking official at Immigration and Citizenship Canada.

But Fraser said that many of the new permanent residents already live in Canada. For example, 157,000 international students became permanent residents in 2021.

“It’s not as though there are half a million people coming to Canada who are not already here,” the minister said.

He said changes are also coming to the Express Entry system in the spring so that immigrants can be selected based on the sector and region in Canada they’re heading to.

That will help alleviate some of the strain on things like health care and housing, he said.

The ongoing debate on whether the new targets are too ambitious is also coinciding with heightened scrutiny regarding what — or who — is influencing government policy.

Radio-Canada reported last week that two sources within Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said McKinsey & Company’s influence on immigration policy has grown in recent years.

A government response to a Conservative MP’s written question, which was tabled in the House of Commons in December, says the department has not recently awarded any contracts to the consulting firm — at least, not during the timeframe the MP asked about, which was from March 2021 until October 2022.

And during the interview Thursday, Fraser said McKinsey has had no role to play in the new immigration levels plan.

“I’m not being influenced by them,” Fraser said.

“This is something that I’ve arrived at independently.”

The minister said he came to the decision regarding the immigration plan on the advice of department officials. He said he also took into consideration what he’s heard from different organizations, stakeholders, and provincial and territorial leaders.

Policy experts often worry about the outsized influence stakeholders can have on government policies, since interest groups lobby the government to implement policies that are in line with their priorities, and some are more powerful than others.

Business groups in Canada have seen ongoing labour shortages as a major concern, and they have called on the government to help fill vacancies.

Following the announcement of the new plan, the Business Council of Canada applauded the targets in a press release, saying that “an economy that is chronically short of workers cannot achieve its potential.”

Griffith said that in his opinion, the current government is “fairly responsive to the pressures of stakeholders,” whether they are business groups or organizations that work with immigrants.

While the interests of stakeholders can sometimes align with what is actually good policy, McDonald said stakeholder groups have “vested interests.”

“We have to be aware of where the advocacy is coming from, and not being naïve about it,” he said.

Source: Liberal minister says Canada needs more immigration as targets get mixed reviews

Coyne: Relax – higher immigration alarmism makes more noise than sense

Cute opening line but false comparison. Babies have an intensive integration and settlement program, called parenting.

And ironic, given that many of his columns focus on government delivery and implementation failures, largely dismisses issues related to housing, healthcare etc by largely assuming the market will deal with them despite evidence to date that it is failing by any measure:

I don’t wish to be alarmist, but I wonder how many Canadians know their country is being invaded. It doesn’t get a lot of attention in the mainstream media, but there is a massive influx of people coming into this country every year: nearly 400,000 in the past year alone.

These are people, I should point out, who have no means of supporting themselves; who have no knowledge of Canadian history or culture; who not only cannot speak either official language, but cannot walk or feed or even dress themselves; people who will be a net drain on the taxpayer for many years after their arrival.

I speak, of course, of the hundreds of thousands of babies born in Canada every year. There are fewer of them, proportionately, than in the past – at just under 1 per cent of the population, the birth rate is barely a third of its postwar peak – but they still have an enormous impact, not least in terms of public spending. Yet somehow, whenever the discussion turns to population growth and the eternal question of my God how will we ever accommodate all these people, the native-born in our midst never seem to come up. It’s always about immigrants.

Just now we are having one of our periodic flutters of panic over immigration, occasioned by the recent release of the latest federal immigration plan. From 405,000 in 2021, to 431,000 in 2022, to 465,000 this year, the annual intake of immigrants is projected to continue to rise to 500,000 by 2025. And that’s not counting those here on temporary work or study permits.

These are invariably described as “record” numbers, and so they are, in absolute terms. But relative to population, immigration is not particularly high: At just over 1 per cent of the receiving population, it is roughly in line with its historical average. There have been periods when it was lower, but there have also been periods when it was higher – much higher: before the First World War (in some years it exceeded 5 per cent of the population), and after the Second. Even today, population flows across our borders are dwarfed by population movements within; again, while the former excites all the attention, the latter passes unremarked.

What people mean when they say immigration is “high” is that it is higher than it was in the recent past. The implication is that recent levels of immigration are “natural,” such that anything higher must inevitably invite disaster. But in fact there is no such thing as a natural rate of immigration, any more than there is a natural level of population; if there were, it would be a remarkable coincidence to find that we were exactly at it. Current immigration rates have no more or less claim to being natural than any other. They are just more familiar.

At one time, immigration hysterics focused on its alleged doleful effects on unemployment, or wages: The increase in the supply of labour, it was reasoned, must surely outpace the demand. That’s proved hard to sustain in the face of today’s record-high employment rates and real wages. So instead the focus has shifted to the ways in which immigration must lead to an excess of demand over supply: in housing, say, or health care.

It never seems to occur to anyone that immigrants might be a source of both demand and supply – that they are not just workers, but consumers, and not just consumers, but workers, at the same time.

Will immigrants add to the demand for housing? Undoubtedly. Hmm. We’ll certainly need to build a lot more houses for them to live in. I wonder where we’ll find the workers to build them? Ah yes: from immigration. The health care system is a mess at the moment. It was also a mess, you may recall, 30 years ago, when there were 10 million fewer Canadians using it.

A moment’s thought, and a little research, should make clear: Neither the unemployment rate, nor the standard of living, nor the level of environmental degradation, nor anything else about a country is primarily a function of the number of people in it. The decisive factor, rather, is the organization of economic life – how efficiently or otherwise resources are used.

In an economy based on prices, that means “getting the prices right” above all – letting prices signal where resources are in greater or lesser demand relative to supply, so as to avoid either shortages or surpluses. Get the prices right, and wealth will be maximized, waste minimized, no matter how many people a country contains; get the prices wrong, and the reverse will be the case, no matter how few.

That works both ways, of course. We don’t “need” immigration to maintain a particular standard of living, either: Lots of countries that are smaller than us, with slower population growth, do just fine. Canada would have a higher GDP with a larger population, but not a hugely greater GDP per capita.

Still, that’s not to say immigration has no impact, or that there are no reasons to favour higher immigration rates to lower. Larger populations, first, can spread fixed costs over larger numbers of people – economies of scale – in ways that cannot readily be duplicated through international trade: Trade within nations, research shows, is of much greater “intensity” than trade within. Countries with higher population density, likewise, enjoy cost savings relative to those whose population is scattered over greater distances.

Less quantifiably, bigger countries offer more opportunities to their citizens, in the same way that big cities offer more opportunities than small towns. They are magnets for the ambitious, the talented and the entrepreneurial. And they have a clout in the world to match – a greater ability, other things being equal, to shape events in line with their interests and their values.

We should not underestimate the impact on our sense of selves. It is striking to read commentators from those early 20th-century days, when our population was growing at such a torrid rate: the exuberance, the self-confidence, the conviction that we were destined to be the next big thing. You know Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s famous line about the 20th century being the century of Canada? In the same 1904 speech he predicted that, within the lifetimes of some members of his audience, Canada would have a population of 60 million people. That was only a commonplace of the time. Others predicted we’d have 100 million people by now.

Needless to say, we fell a long way short of that. Yet it’s hard not to notice the positive effects of the population growth we have enjoyed. Canada is a much more interesting, dynamic place than it was in my childhood, when it was half its current size. It is also a more tolerant place. Had you predicted then that nearly a quarter of Canada’s population would one day be foreign-born – it is over 50 per cent in our largest cities – you would no doubt have been met with terrified prophecies of racial conflict.

Yet we seem more at ease with each other than ever. Popular support for immigration, likewise, is not only strong, but growing. The national and international data on this are conclusive: The greatest hostility to immigration is found in places with relatively little experience of it. Where people regularly encounter people from different backgrounds to their own, on the other hand, it is popular. Familiarity, it turns out, breeds respect.

Source: Relax – higher immigration alarmism makes more noise than sense

Mason: It’s not racist or xenophobic to question our immigration policy

Good column by Mason questioning the current approach of governments and stakeholders. Money quote:

“We should be able to have this conversation without fear of being labelled a racist or xenophobe. We should be able to have that conversation in the best interests of those already living here, and the ones yet to arrive.”

Canada is experiencing a population boom.

Figures released recently by the federal government are quite staggering: the country grew by 437,000 new residents in 2022 and projections from Ottawa indicate that roughly 1.45 million more will join them over the next three years. According to a recent story in The Globe and Mail, since 2016, Canada has grown at nearly double the average rate of its G7 peers.

In most cases, however, it isn’t newborns enhancing our population growth but adults coming to Canada through our immigration and refugee program – a fact that has consequences far and wide.

For years we have been told that economic growth depends on robust immigration. Immigrants are needed to bolster a work force being weakened, even decimated in some cases, by the demographic bulge of boomers who are retiring. Also, immigrants are core to the Canadian identity, something of which we are unquestionably, and quite rightly, proud.

At the same time, it is fair to ask whether the pace at which we are growing is in our best interests. Or whether in attempting to solve one problem, we are creating others.

We may be about to find out.

For starters, we need to figure out where all the newcomers will be staying. In recent years, headlines have been dominated by stories chronicling the housing crisis in Canada, especially in our major cities. The lack of supply has been responsible for a spike in prices.

Douglas Porter, chief economist with the Bank of Montreal, recently said that the countries with the fastest population growth up to 2020 – countries such as this one and New Zealand – had greater house price inflation than those with stable populations or ones that decreased. If this is correct, one can assume house prices will only continue to reach levels that are unattainable for many, despite assurances from all levels of government that they are “on” the problem.

Supply can’t keep up with demand as it is, let alone meet the challenge of adding nearly 1.5 million more residents over the next three years.

The furious pace of immigration will also put enormous pressure on a rental market that is already making life unbearable for many with a tight supply and soaring rents. The problems that this level of population growth contributes to would likely not be as bad if these newcomers were moving to towns and cities that could use more people. But that’s not the case. The vast, vast majority of new immigrants are congregating in our biggest cities.

It’s also fair to ask what these intake rates will do to our already overburdened health care system. Yes, some of those arriving here will fill critical voids in our health care front lines, but not nearly enough to make up for those who are retiring or leaving the profession because of burnout. And not nearly enough to compensate for the population boom we are anticipating.

There are, for example, more than a million British Columbians without a family doctor, a number that is likely to only increase as more physicians retire and newcomers arrive each year by the tens of thousands.

There are also voices suggesting that massive immigration on the scale we are witnessing may not be the great economic elixir being promoted by the federal government and the business sector. In fact, David Green, an economist with the University of B.C., says this is a contention that turns out not to be true. His research shows immigration often lowers the wages for people competing with new immigrants for jobs.

None of this is an argument for stopping immigration, of course. It is an indisputable fact that immigration has enriched our country beyond any measure, making it the envy of the world. We are a more vibrant and culturally enriched nation as a result of it.

Still, you can be pro-immigration and question the pace at which we are currently welcoming newcomers. You can be pro-immigration and ask whether we are at a moment when it would be prudent to step back and analyze the situation, and see whether we are exacerbating critical problems for which we have not yet found solutions.

We should be able to have this conversation without fear of being labelled a racist or xenophobe. We should be able to have that conversation in the best interests of those already living here, and the ones yet to arrive.

Source: It’s not racist or xenophobic to question our immigration policy

Watt: In 2023, Canadians deserve a grand vision from our political leaders

Watt notes the need for an actual plan how to address the impact of high immigration levels, which by its nature would require joint federal and provincial collaboration and much more medium and longer term policy and program measures:

A federal election in 2023?

Though far from a certainty, more and more, it feels like one. Federal minority governments have seldom endured more than a few years and the current Liberal-NDP agreement is unlikely to be an exception tothis rule.

If the plug is pulled and the current Parliament Hill tone continues, the election will be waged on decidedly pessimistic terms. Take, for example, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre’s and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent exchange played out over the closing weeks of 2022.

To great effect, Poilievre has repeatedly asserted that “it feels like everything is broken in this country” — a message that resonates strongly with Canadians. At a year-end Liberal holiday party, Trudeau countered that “Canada is not broken.”

While Canada is far from broken, it’s time we acknowledged that there are significant cracks in the land and the current government’s continued approach of ignoring the legitimate concerns of families battling record inflation and a housing crisis can’t continue.

As Poilievre tells it, Justin Trudeau’s excessive spending, runaway deficits and second-rate commitment to infrastructure mean that a continued Liberal reign poses no less than an existential threat to our nation.

Trudeau’s challenge is that circumstances beyond his control — namely brutal economic conditions — make defending against Poilievre’s charges harder and harder. He is left, as many long-term governments are, selling a hypothetical alternative narrative of another kind of doom and gloom.

And so, Trudeau paints a sloppy picture of a Poilievre-inspired hellscape where you pay for groceries with Ethereum and carbon costs less than an FTX token.

Source: In 2023, Canadians deserve a grand vision from our political leaders

Sabrina Maddeaux: Liberals bring in influx of immigrants without a plan to support them

Yet another commentary questioning the impact of high immigration levels on housing, healthcare, infrastructure etc.

But Maddeaux is silent on the “complicity” of provincial governments who are responsible for addressing many of the externalities and costs, the business community in pushing for high levels of both permanent and temporary residents, and the various stakeholders supporting the increased and increasing levels:

The federal Liberals are well on their way to meeting at least one of their marquee goals: 500,000 new immigrants per year by 2025. The stats for 2022 just came in, and last year saw a record 431,645 new permanent residents.

That’s a 6.4 per cent increase over 2021 — and this year aims to admit 465,000 new residents, which will be another 7.7 per cent increase over 2022. These numbers don’t include temporary foreign workers or international students, which are also rising at record rates.

This sort of rapid swell isn’t just historic for Canada, it makes us the fastest-growing country in the G7. This would be great news, if not for the fact that we’re also among the least equipped to accept a mass influx of new people.

To put those earlier numbers in context, the population of Halifax is about 440,000. Quebec City’s is around 550,000. We are, or soon will be, adding the equivalent population of one of those cities each year.

Diversity is a pride point for many Canadians, and we’re undoubtedly a stronger and better country thanks to immigrants’ many contributions over the decades. However, this doesn’t mean we should blindly open the floodgates to hundreds of thousands more per year, when there’s scant evidence we can support them.

As much as we may want to welcome more immigrants into the fold, there needs to be a debate about whether now is the best time to boost targets. We may find that, until we get our house in order, the risks outweigh the potential rewards.

Immigration isn’t inherently good for a country, or even for immigrants, in and of itself. Positive outcomes for all parties require careful planning and a sense of realism. Unfortunately, it appears the Liberals have neither.

Our health-care system ranks poorly against peer countries and seems to be only getting worse. We can barely even care for sick children in our major urban centres, let alone rural areas. Family doctors are practically the new Polkaroo.

Our housing situation is dismal. We don’t have enough homes, and the ones we do have are exorbitantly expensive and out of reach for all but the very wealthiest young Canadians and newcomers.

It seems like we have shortages of every type of basic infrastructure and service, from transit to schools and childcare spots.

International students are frequenting food banks, living in crowded and often unsanitary rooming houses and even driving five hours –– each way –– to attend classes.

Many immigrants still can’t work in their trained fields because we haven’t taken the time to sort our credentialing systems. Despite just about everyone agreeing that foreign-trained doctors shouldn’t be driving taxi cabs, it always seems to be a problem for another day.

Meanwhile, Liberals argue that we need more newcomers to boost our economy and address labour shortages. Not only does this seem callous and exploitative in light of our inability to provide for needs like housing and health care, there’s little evidence our current immigration system can produce these desired outcomes.

At a certain point, we will get diminishing returns. While more immigrants mean more tax dollars, we don’t get to just take from them without giving anything back. They, too, require doctors, affordable homes, schools and passports in a timely manner. They use subways and parks and, eventually, long-term care homes.

By failing to invest heavily in infrastructure and government services, the Liberals are exacerbating resource scarcity and intensifying competition for fundamental goods and services.

Historically, this never ends well. Eventually, people look for someone to blame for their declining quality of life, and that group tends to be newcomers.

To be clear, such scarcity isn’t the fault of immigrants. It’s the fault of governments that either failed or didn’t bother to properly plan to support their targets. Yet that will be of little consolation if Canadians’ historically welcoming nature begins to take a turn.

Canada’s success with immigration is thanks to its record of sustainable growth. For the Liberals to throw that ethos out the window isn’t just irresponsible, it’s dangerous.

Source: Sabrina Maddeaux: Liberals bring in influx of immigrants without a plan to support them

Grubel: Canadians are right to worry about immigration levels 

While I disagree with Grubel on many of his points and overall approach, he is right on the negative impacts and externalities of current and projected high levels of immigration.

His proposed solution, essentially only admitting economic class immigrants with a job offer is completely unrealistic (what government would stop family reunification, given the impact in ridings with large numbers of immigrants, or completely stop refugees, which is practically and legally impossible). While sidestepping the numbers questions, a column a few years back referenced 50,000 if I recall correctly.

And Leger is only one poll and its question phrasing, as it often is, was designed to elicit this response:

Canadians are increasingly worried about immigration. A recent Leger Poll found that 49 per cent of us think the federal government’s new target of 500,000 immigrants a year is too many, while fully 75 per cent are concerned the plan will result in excessive demand for housing and social services. For his part, the immigration minister, Sean Fraser, tells us we need not worry: immigrants themselves will provide the labour needed to build the housing stock they’ll need.

The majority of Canadians have always welcomed immigrants and believe they benefit the economy and themselves. What worries them today is the prospect of mass immigration that they believe the housing market cannot absorb without much higher prices. They know the minister’s soothing reassurance is not supported by experience. Past immigration did increase the labour force but did not prevent high housing costs. Excessive regulations and rent control are the main reasons housing is so expensive, not a shortage of labour.

Immigrants not only add to the demand for housing, they also increase congestion for a wide range of public services: doctors, hospitals, schools, universities, parks, retirement homes, and roads and bridges, as well as the utilities that supply water, electricity and sewers. In theory, the supply of all these things could be expanded reasonably rapidly. In practice, expansion is slow. But the main reasons for that are, not a shortage of labour, but inadequate planning, insufficient financial resources and, as a result, construction that lags demand.

The case for keeping annual immigration at traditional or even somewhat lower levels rests on more than the effect on house prices and public services, however. Immigration also depresses the wages of low-income workers, which results in greater income-equalizing transfers and the higher taxes required to pay for them. It also reduces employers’ incentives to adopt labour-saving technology, an important source of growth in labour productivity and wages, and it allows employers to avoid the cost of operating apprenticeship programs to train skilled workers.

Japan’s widespread success in using robots to deal with labour shortages caused by its aging population illustrates what could be done in Canada. In Germany employers operate apprenticeship programs to train skilled workers in the numbers industry needs. In this country, such programs could relieve the shortage of skilled labour while benefiting people already here, rather than new immigrants brought in specially to take highly paid skilled jobs currently going asking.

Despite the Leger numbers suggesting many Canadians have concerns about big increases in the rate of immigration, the debate about it tends to be one-sided. We hear from the many groups that benefit from mass immigration: employers, immigration lawyers and consultants, real estate developers, political parties that traditionally do well in immigrant communities, idealists who want us to “imagine there’s no countries” and so on.

On the other side, the Leger numbers suggest, is a majority that is not at all opposed to immigration in principle but begins to inform itself on the subject and maybe even become politically active only when the costs become so large they can’t be ignored any longer.

In Switzerland during the 1970s an economic boom led to labour shortages and immigration was liberalized. It turned out that the need to produce housing infrastructure and public services for these immigrants actually worsened the labour shortage. The silent majority of Swiss citizens organized and took advantage of the opportunity to get government policy changed by demanding a public referendum that ultimately ended the liberal immigration policy.

In Canada, changes in policies come through Parliament and the election of politicians. Numbers like those in the Leger poll may begin to suggest to politicians that they can increase their election chances by catering to the majority who would prefer somewhat reduced immigration but also a fundamental reform of the system currently used to determine the number and characteristics of immigrants.

Such a reform would put greater emphasis on market forces rather than politicians and bureaucrats in setting immigration levels. Immigrants would be admitted only if they possessed a formal offer of employment in Canada that paid at least the average earned by workers in the region where they would be employed.

Under this system, employers’ self-interest would ensure that workers would have the skills and personal characteristics required for success on the job. The requirement for minimum pay would prevent floods of immigrants competing with Canada’s low-wage workers and ensure that those who did come had the income needed for a life free from the need for public subsidies.

Worrying about immigration is not enough. Only the election of politicians committed to this kind of reform will restore mental peace.

Herbert Grubel, himself an immigrant to Canada, is an emeritus professor of economics at Simon Fraser University and a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.

Source: Opinion: Canadians are right to worry about immigration levels 

Immigration to Canada hits record high in 2022

Some cheerleading along with critical comments on housing affordability and IRCC service delivery. Numbers more than twice as high given temporary residents (workers and students):

Canada took in a record number of immigrants last year, a result of a federal planto compensate for a lack of new arrivals in the first year of the pandemic, and to make up for the country’s aging population and holes in the work force.

The country added just over 437,000 new permanent residents in 2022, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This topped the department’s target for the year, as well as the previous high of 405,000, reached in 2021.

Immigration now accounts for three-quarters of Canada’s population growth. The federal government’s immigration plan calls for the admission of 1.45 million more new permanent residents over the next three years, which is equivalent to 3.8 per cent of the country’s population

The majority of the permanent residency spots have been set aside for economic immigrants, a term for newcomers who either have money to invest, or specific desirable skills, or can demonstrate that they are capable of opening businesses.

The federal government has said immigration is crucial for the economy, and that it accounts for as much as 90 per cent of labour force growth in Canada.

But critics of the plan have raised questions about the effects of higher immigration targets on the country’s already-unaffordable urban housing markets. And it is unclear whether Ottawa’s plan will help make up for shortages of labour in low-paid fields such as accommodation, food services, retail and health care assistance.

NDP immigration and housing critic Jenny Kwan said the federal government has missed an opportunity to give temporary foreign workers and undocumented workers permanent resident status. This would give them access to taxpayer-funded health care and allow them to live and work anywhere in Canada, indefinitely. (Temporary foreign workers are typically restricted to one employer and not allowed to switch jobs.)

“The government must stop relying on vulnerable workers and give them the protection of permanent status and ensure their rights are respected,” Ms. Kwan said in an e-mailed statement.

The flood of new permanent residents is expected to bring new homebuyers and renters to communities across the country. That could increase activity in the residential real estate market, which has slowed since early last year, when borrowing costs jumped with a rise in interest rates.

“There is little debate that strong population growth goes hand-in-hand with strong real home price gains over time,” said Douglas Porter, Bank of Montreal’s chief economist.

Mr. Porter analyzed the relationship between population growth and home prices in 18 developed countries. He found that countries with the fastest population growth during the decade leading up to 2020 – such as New Zealand and Canada – had greater home price inflation than those where populations remained stable or decreased.

But, considering the rise in borrowing costs, Mr. Porter said he believes that the influx of permanent residents will not immediately create a new pool of homebuyers. “Just as last year’s large population increase was unable to avert a double-digit drop in home prices, another large increase in 2023 won’t keep home prices from falling heavily again this year,” he said.

The typical home price across the country is down 10 per cent from February, 2022, when the market peaked.

Where Mr. Porter does expect the surge in newcomers to make a difference is in the rental market, where borrowing costs are less of a factor. Rents have already risen sharply over the past year, and he expects increased competition will push prices higher still.

The largest share of immigrants usually end up in major cities in Ontario, followed by cities in British Columbia, Quebec and Alberta. Last year was no different. Just over a quarter of new permanent residents intended to settle in the Toronto region, according to the most recent data from IRCC, which cover January, 2022, through October.

The government has said its immigration plan includes placing new permanent residents in small towns and rural communities.

In past years, people from southern and eastern Asia accounted for the largest share of immigrants to Canada. According to the IRCC data, this continued to be the case during the first 10 months of last year. During that period, nearly 110,000 new permanent residents were from India, nearly 30,000 were from China and about 20,000 were from the Philippines.

Canada also admitted nearly 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan in the first 10 months of last year, up from 8,570 in 2021. Ottawa has promised to bring at least 40,000 Afghans to Canada, under a pair of resettlement programs introduced around the time of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August, 2021.

IRCC could have difficulty handling the large numbers of new permanent residency applicants. It has been dealing with a backlog of applications since 2021, when Ottawa bumped up its immigration targets.

Source: Immigration to Canada hits record high in 2022

ICYMI – Green: No, immigration is not some magic pill for saving the economy

Useful reminder…:

“When all you have is a hammer, all the world’s a nail.” This saying isn’t usually seen as a complimentary description of any policy approach but it appears to capture Canada’s immigration policy.

Immigration, undoubtedly, touches on nearly every aspect of our economy – from employment to output growth to health care to housing. And to hear the government speak, you would think it’s the right tool for the job in every one of them. The problem is, it’s at best an ineffective hammer for every one of them, and using it more will cause more problems than it will solve.

The size of the hammer is big and getting bigger. At the start of November, the federal immigration minister announced the new levels plan, taking Canada from receiving 405,000 permanent immigrants last year to 500,000 in 2025. Matching that is an expansion of the number of temporary foreign workers, to more than 770,000 in 2021 – almost double the high levels under the Harper government 10 years ago.

I am in favour of immigration at the levels of the recent past. But now the main argument made to ramp up immigration is that it will spur economic growth, and this is a tantalizing promise that turns out not to be true. Study after study after study shows that sudden expansions in immigration increase the size of the economy (the GDP) but don’t change GDP per person or the average wage – how well off people are. The research shows that immigration tends to lower wages for people who compete directly with the new immigrants (often previously arrived immigrants and low-skilled workers) and improves incomes for the higher skilled and business owners who get labour at lower wages. That is, it can be an inequality-increasing policy.

But isn’t this time different? Don’t we have such a high number of unfilled jobs that the economic machine is threatening to break down? First, the employment rate is now much higher than in the past and GDP per capita growth is strong. There is no evidence the machine is breaking down from lack of workers.

Second, the economy is not a machine that breaks down when parts are missing. It is an organic being that flows, guided by prices. If we didn’t bring in immigrants to match the vacancies, that does not necessarily lead to catastrophe.

When that happens, wages would have to increase to attract domestic workers. Some firms would not be able to pay the higher wages and might shut down or not undertake some projects. But those would be the least productive projects – the ones that don’t warrant the market wage. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s the way markets work.

Immigration thus keeps wages down in occupations in high demand, and that reduces incentives for firms and workers already here to invest in the skills needed to fill those positions, reducing opportunities, missing an opportunity to increase the skill level of the work force and getting in the way of training and education policies intended to help workers with those opportunities.

Using immigration to solve the labour crunch therefore has the potential to weaken productivity and lower wages.

Linked to the argument about labour shortages is the aging of our population. The retirement of the baby boom will lead to substantial increases in the ratio of non-workers to workers over the next decade. Surely, bringing in more immigrants is the right solution to this? The answer is that it will help a little bit but immigrants aren’t that much younger than the people already living here, and adding 100,000 more immigrants a year won’t move the age dial enough to seriously alter the dependency ratio.

And while it’s not solving these problems, a jump in immigration will put strains on other parts of our economy and society. Adding 100,000 more immigrants a year will mean a big increase in people looking for housing in our cities each year, where the housing markets are already at the breaking point.

The government’s response to this most obvious of problems is that immigrant trades workers will fill shortages in construction trades, increasing housing production. But the construction sector isn’t grinding to a halt because of lack of workers – employment in the sector is already above 2019 levels and there is plenty of activity. The problem in housing supply is rooted in municipal regulations around density and offshore buyers treating our housing as an investment. Immigration won’t hit those nails. It will make problems worse. And when it does, it will put a strain on Canadians’ much vaunted immigration-welcoming attitudes.

Further strains on the health care system are also concerning. A case might be made for bringing in the front-line health workers our system needs now. But the current system underutilizes foreign-trained immigrants, and the problem lies with rigid professional associations, not with the federal government. Bringing in more health workers without solving this problem is unfair to the people we are bringing in, adding them to the large number of frustrated foreign-trained health workers already here. Again, increasing the numbers is not the solution to the problem.

Immigration is both necessary and positive. Immigrants make our society more vibrant. And the evidence is they don’t lower standards of living. But neither do they raise them. Labour markets are finally poised to give workers the wage gains they have been waiting for. Housing markets are straining. Blocking the first and worsening the second in pursuit of pounding nails that immigration doesn’t even hit well isn’t wise policy. A sudden jump without better preparing housing markets and creating mechanisms to integrate the new immigrants is irresponsible.

David Green is a professor in the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia and an international fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London.

Source: No, immigration is not some magic pill for saving the economy

Andrew Potter: Trudeau is risking our pro-immigration consensus

Indeed. Encouraging to see more articles focusses on the impact (my first article questioning the government’s approach and Canada’s ability to address these and other externalities dates from May 2021):

Justin Trudeau’s strong desire to push his unique brand of progressive cosmopolitanism onto audiences domestic and foreign has always stood uneasily beside his equally strong obsession with keeping the peace with Quebec, which is led by the increasingly nationalistic François Legault. Indeed, when these two goals have come in conflict, his tendency has been to either take Quebec’s side (such as the application of Bill 101 to companies under federal jurisdiction) or largely ignore it (Bill 21). But things are coming to a head now over immigration, and this is one area where it is hard not to think that Legault has a point. 

Last month, the federal government announced that Canada would be trying to bring in 500,000 immigrants a year by 2025, an almost 25 per cent increase over last year’s target. Thanks to current immigration levels, Canada’s population growth rate is already considerably higher than that of the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. As Statistics Canada reported this fall, immigrants currently make up almost a quarter of the population, the highest level since Confederation, and one of the highest levels in the world. 

Quebec seems to think things have gone just about far enough. The recent provincial election, which saw Legault’s CAQ re-elected in a landslide, was fought largely over questions of Quebec identity and the status of the French language, with the debate over appropriate levels of immigration serving as a flashpoint. The Liberals bid highest,  suggesting the province could accommodate 70,000 newcomers a year, while the PQ came in with a lowball pledge of a maximum of 35,000. The governing CAQ set the limit at 50,000, with Legault saying anything higher would be “suicidal” for the province. 

Given this all-party Quebec consensus around relatively low levels of immigration, it was surprising to see Trudeau assert in a year-end interview that Quebec has “all the tools” it needs to bring in as many as 112 000 immigrants a year, which would be its per-capita share of the 500,000 national target. In response, Legault’s immigration minister Christine Fréchette called Trudeau “insensitive” and said that Canada could bring in as many people as it likes but no more than 50,000 are coming to Quebec. 

The fact is, Quebec’s concerns over its ability to successfully integrate tens of thousands of newcomers are not frivolous, and it would be helpful if the federal government would recognize that these concerns apply as much in the rest of the country as they do in Quebec, if for different reasons. 

Ottawa’s rationale for ever-increasing levels of immigration is overwhelmingly economic. We are told that immigration leads to higher economic growth, will help alleviate labour shortages, and will mitigate the effects of an aging population. But even if this were true (the evidence is mixed on all of these), it is striking how little attention is paid to our capacity to successfully integrate a steadily increasing number of new Canadians. 

For starters, where are they all going to live? Housing in Canada is notoriously expensive, especially in the major cities where the majority of newcomers tend to settle. And we’re not adding anywhere close to the number of new houses that we need; as a recent Globe and Mail featureabout the challenges of immigration noted, the basic mismatch between the demand for housing and its supply is getting worse, not better. 

Then there is health care. The system, as anyone paying attention can see, is in a major crisis. There is a widespread shortage of nurses, and somewhere around six million Canadians can’t even find a family doctor. Ottawa will argue that the solution is to bring in more foreign-trained medical professionals, but the problems they have getting their credentials recognized in Canada are long-standing. 

And all of this assumes the prospective immigrants can even get into the country in the first place: The federal government is currently facing a surge of lawsuits over the backlog of 1.2 million unprocessed immigration applications, with some applicants waiting years for a decision. 

In short: We make people wait an unconscionable long time while we decide if we will admit them; once they are here we have no plan for providing them with affordable housing or accessible health care; and then we make it exceedingly difficult for them to practice the professions for which they are trained. And all of this comes at a time when the wave of right-wing populism that has swept across the West over the past half decade has made itself at home in Canada. 

It is easy to forget just how recent it was that Canadians became comfortable with high levels of immigration. When Brian Mulroney basically doubled Canada’s immigration targets overnight in the late 1980s, it sparked a substantial backlash, and was in part responsible for the rise of the Reform Party. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw a great deal of national anxiety over immigration, with many critics worried that growing numbers of “hyphenated Canadians” would lead to cultural balkanization and social disintegration. It was only at the end of the 1990s that popular opinion switched from being predominantly anti-immigration to generally in favour. 

Canada’s great multicultural experiment over the past quarter century is largely a success story, with a healthy majority of Canadians continuing to support current levels of immigration. Most of us probably have personal stories about how and why immigration has made our lives better, and, thankfully, there aren’t yet loud calls for less immigration. 

But it wasn’t always this way, and it is important to remember that the current consensus around immigration (and multiculturalism more generally) was a hard-won achievement. With what appears to be a single-minded push to get immigration levels up to half a million a year, with no plan for dealing with the increasing number of obstacles to successfully integrating them, one worries if the Liberals are taking that achievement for granted.

Source: Andrew Potter: Trudeau is risking our pro-immigration consensus

Trudeau says Quebec has the ‘tools’ to welcome 112,000 immigrants, more than double its goal, Trudeau forcé de clarifier ses propos sur les seuils d’immigration

Correct. Not a question of having or not having the tools but Quebec takes a more more critical look at immigration rathe than the “more the merrier” approach in the rest of Canada. Have included an article from Le Devoir on the false controversy his remarks caused, forcing him to clarify his remarks (even if I found them clear).

But the divergent approaches to immigration, and the resulting dilution of Quebec’s weight in the federation, are a cause for medium-and-longer concern:

Quebec’s immigration minister has responded to comments from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying his assertion that the province could welcome up to 112,000 immigrants every year instead of the planned 50,000 is “insensitive” to Quebec’s challenge of protecting the French language.

Trudeau told The Canadian Press Monday afternoon in a year-end interview that Quebec had the resources to host more than double the immigration threshold it has set for itself and that the province already has “all the tools” for those people to be francophones.

Earlier this year, the federal government set a goal of welcoming 500,000 new immigrants by 2025 — 112,000 represents 22.3 per cent of that number, which is the equivalent of Quebec’s population within Canada.

Source: Trudeau says Quebec has the ‘tools’ to welcome 112,000 immigrants, more than double its goal

Le premier ministre Justin Trudeau a tenu mardi à préciser ses propos voulant qu’il fasse le « constat » que le Québec « a la capacité », selon lui, d’accueillir jusqu’à 112 000 immigrants par année, face aux commentaires désapprobateurs de la ministre québécoise de l’Immigration et de certains partis d’opposition aux Communes.

En entrevue de fin d’année avec La Presse canadienne, M. Trudeau avait, dans sa réponse à une question dans laquelle ce chiffre lui était présenté, répété ce dernier.

« Le Québec a actuellement la pleine capacité d’accueillir 112 000 immigrants par année. […] C’est un constat », avait-il dit lundi.

Le premier ministre était interpellé sur le fait que les Québécois représentent 22,3 % de la population canadienne et que ce chiffre de 112 000 correspond donc à la proportion des 500 000 immigrants que son gouvernement a récemment annoncé vouloir accueillir annuellement d’ici 2025.

Mardi, M. Trudeau est revenu sur ses propos durant la période des questions, bloquistes et conservateurs l’accusant de s’immiscer dans la décision de Québec de fixer ses propres seuils d’immigration.

« Je n’ai pas proposé de chiffres pour le Québec, a-t-il soutenu. J’ai reconnu que le Québec avait la capacité d’augmenter ses seuils d’immigration s’il le voulait. Ils ont ces pouvoirs parce que nous reconnaissons l’importance que le Québec a dans la protection de la langue française et de la nation québécoise. »

Pourtant, au cours de l’entrevue de fin d’année, il a bel et bien mentionné nommément « 112 000 » en réponse à une question.

« Je ne suis pas en train de le recommander [les 112 000 immigrants] non plus », avait ensuite nuancé M. Trudeau.

Les journalistes de La Presse canadienne venaient alors de porter à son attention l’écart entre le chiffre de 112 000 immigrants et les seuils de 50 000 et 70 000 qui ont été évoqués respectivement, en campagne électorale provinciale, par le gouvernement de François Legault et le Parti libéral du Québec. Québec solidaire a pour sa part proposé que la province reçoive entre 60 000 à 80 000 nouveaux arrivants par année.

Le premier ministre fédéral a expliqué son « constat » en faisant référence à l’accord entre le Québec et Ottawa en matière d’immigration qui donne tous les outils nécessaires au Québec pour l’accueil de 112 000 immigrants.

Dans ses échanges aux Communes, M. Trudeau a insisté que « c’est une décision pour le Québec et nous respectons les compétences à ce niveau-là ».

Or, l’opposition officielle conservatrice a plutôt interprété les propos du premier ministre comme une « directive », a résumé en mêlée de presse son lieutenant politique pour le Québec, Pierre Paul-Hus.

« M. Trudeau dit : “On peut avoir jusqu’à 112 000 immigrants au Québec”. Le gouvernement du Québec dit : “Non. On a calculé que nous, pour bien accueillir des immigrants, c’est 50 000’’. Donc M. Trudeau fait de façon indirecte une forme d’efforts d’imposer un seuil d’immigration pour le Québec, ce qu’on considère qu’il ne devait pas se faire », a-t-il dit.

Le chef bloquiste Yves-François Blanchet estime aussi que M. Trudeau veut imposer sa vision.

« En 24 heures, le premier ministre dit qu’il faut que le Québec accueille 112 000 immigrants. “Oh ! Je ne l’impose pas”, mais toutes les autres fois il a dit qu’il voudrait bien l’imposer », a-t-il mentionné durant la période des questions.

Il a, de plus, suggéré que le fédéral était bien mal placé pour parler en raison des arriérés dans le traitement de dossiers d’immigration.

« Est-ce qu’il devrait refaire ses devoirs et laisser le Québec gérer tant l’immigration que le français ? », a tonné M. Blanchet.

Du côté du gouvernement de François Legault, la ministre de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration, Christine Fréchette, a déclaré par écrit que les propos de M. Trudeau lui paraissent « insensibles ».

« C’est au Québec, et au Québec seul, de déterminer ses seuils d’immigration », a-t-elle souligné. La ministre n’était pas disponible pour une entrevue mardi.

Selon elle, le Québec a « un double défi, qui est unique au Canada », soit de s’attaquer à la pénurie de main-d’oeuvre tout en arrêtant le déclin du français, « ce à quoi M. Trudeau semble rester insensible », a-t-elle ajouté.

Source: Trudeau forcé de clarifier ses propos sur les seuils d’immigration