Scofield: Believe it or not, Canada’s population will hit 40 million in June. It’s time we learned how to retain newcomers [IMO, also question levels and impacts]

Disappointing in that Scofield doesn’t question some of the assumptions behind the immigration levels and their support by the business community, education institutions and others. So much easier to turn up the immigration dial, so much harder to address housing, healthcare and infrastructure needs:

Canada’s population is about to break the 40 million mark this June.

Chief Statistician Anil Arora took to the stage last week to illustrate Canada’s surging society, and that number was his starting point for a very good reason.

Canada’s population is growing quite quickly by historical standards and compared to the rest of the world, and almost all of that growth is thanks to immigration. At the same time, it’s important to note that in any given year, there are thousands of Canadians who leave the country — either permanently or temporarily. You can actually see it happening in real time, thanks to a “population clock” built by Statistics Canada, which shows a couple thousand people per day coming into Canada mainly as immigrants or non-permanent residents.

And what’s true for the country is even more so for the GTA, the centre of the country’s vibrant and dynamic diversity.

The implications are far-reaching and profound, as Arora pointed out in the prestigious, annual Manion lecture to public servants — especially for the economy.

To make the obvious point, it’s essential that policymakers and employers alike anticipate the change coming at us, and make the most of it. That’s not lost on any employer desperately trying to fill job postings these days, nor is it lost on our political leaders.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser and his entourage are travelling the country, looking for bold ideas for the long term, practical ideas for the short term, and tight timelines to deliver a new vision to his colleagues in cabinet.

At stake is our standard of living, our ability to compete with other countries, our regional development and, importantly, our ability to get along with one another.

Here are a few more numbers to add to Arora’s headline.

Last year, permanent residents coming into Canada reached a historic high, and the same goes for temporary workers. In other words, Canada has a healthy flow of people moving here for the long term, along with a more haphazard intake of stopgap workers whose future is uncertain.

Employers are scrambling to fill more than 731,000 positions right now, but this is down from the one million job vacancies that dominated the news last fall. The vacancies reflect an underlying labour shortage in Canada as the population ages and retirements pile up. But layered on top of that is an expected shorter-term slowdown in hiring as the country’s employers grapple with rising interest rates and stagflation.

House prices in the GTA were up four per cent in April but down 7.8 per cent from a year ago. Similarly, the volume of sales was up nine per cent on the month, but down 5.2 per cent compared to a year ago. In other words, Toronto homes are really expensive and the market is very much in flux. It’s a confusing array of short-term mismatches and long-term demographic trends that require a nuanced approach, if the country’s economy is to set itself on a growth trajectory.

There’s no doubt that we need a growing labour force over the long term, and that immigration is the source of that growth. There’s also no doubt that business leaders routinely list labour supply as their top challenge, and they’re constantly reassessing the mix of skills that they need. There’s no doubt that the challenge of expensive housing repeatedly throws a wrench in the best-laid plans. And there’s also no doubt that Canada’s reputation as a magnet for the world’s best and brightest is under pressure because other countries are mirroring our approach and taking us on.

Canada has fallen behind on key issues that impact our reputation, including administrative backlogs, inadequate housing, and poor recognition of foreign credentials. In the 2022 Global Talent Competitiveness Index, Canada fell to 15th place — down from 9th place in 2015, with its lowest scores for immigrant retention. 

Helpfully, the federal government separates out the “acute” short-term dynamics from the “chronic” longer-term pressures and is actively talking to business about how to collaborate and make sure the mix of newcomers adds to our ability to build homes, fill job vacancies and set the stage for longer-term productivity.

There’s talk of fast-tracking the flow of newcomers attached to trusted employers and trusted institutions such as universities. There’s creative thinking around how large-scale employers can work together to recruit pools of workers overseas. The discussion with professional organizations to streamline credential recognition is vigorous. And there’s some promising use of technology to speed up approvals in a way that also helps with matching people with jobs and smooths out integration.

And of course, on top of the push for speed and the right mix of workers, Canada’s immigration policy is also about a humanitarian approach to refugees and family reunification, as always.

We’re in the midst of a promising collective brainstorming around how — a brainstorming that will become more complicated in the next months as government drives towards decisions and as the economy slows down.

Luckily, most of the public, the government and business are on the same wavelength in making immigration work well for the economy, and the country as a whole.

Let’s keep that consensus in mind as policymakers and employers figure out how.

Source: Believe it or not, Canada’s population will hit 40 million in June. It’s time we learned how to retain newcomers

Amos: Let’s fix this Citizenship Act obstacle to Canadians overseas: Liberal MP

Liberal MP Will Amos (Pontiac) picks up on the arguments of Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock regarding the first generation limit.

As usual, the arguments focus on the relatively few Canadian expatriates who make a major economic, social or political contribution, compared to the many who are just pursuing personal or professional objectives. Many of these maintain minimal connections to Canada, judging by consular, passport and income tax data that I analyzed with respect to expatriate voting (see my earlier piece What should expatriates’ voting rights be? – Policy Options).

Amos repeats the old canard regarding the exemption for Crown servants serving abroad, all of whom pay taxes, are in daily in not hourly contact with Canada and Canadians, and who are sent abroad to further government objectives. Quite different from expatriates living in such places as Hong Kong, LA or Dubai who are pursing their personal and professional interests.

Amos is unclear on what alternative he proposes. Does he really want Canadian citizenship to be able to be passed on indefinitely, without any meaningful restriction or is he proposing some other limit (e.g., second generation)?

I am militating against this little-known 2006 amendment to the Citizenship Act that limits Canadian citizenship to only the first-generation of children born to (or adopted by) Canadians who live outside Canada. This means that children of Canadian parents who are travelling, studying or working abroad become citizens of Canada at birth or at the time of adoption. Their children, however, are not entitled to Canadian citizenship if they are born outside Canada. Given that two to three million Canadians are living or working overseas at any time, this issue affects potentially thousands of Canadian children each year.

Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock, respectively Canada’s former foreign affairs minister and UN ambassador, have written persuasively that the 2006 amendment treats Canadians differently based on where they live, which fails to account for the benefits of Canadians’ engagement abroad and may deter Canadians from going overseas. Furthermore, they note that the amendment is not applied uniformly, as federal employees and military personnel who serve outside Canada are not subject to the same rules. The potential deterrent for Canadians to serve abroad with international agencies or NGOs is obvious.

There can be no justifying this legislative disparity on vague grounds of “simplicity and transparency.” Whatever the administrative benefits – if any – of this legislation, they are outweighed by our need to ensure that all Canadians have equal rights, including the right to pass along citizenship equally. A Canadian is a Canadian.

With the passage of Bill C-6, the government has already fulfilled a major election promise to remove two-tiered citizenship and reverse the detrimental and artificial barriers to citizenship that were put in place by the Harper Conservatives. Now it’s time to move even further.

I urge Minister of Immigration and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen to take action and table a bill in the House of Commons that will address this inequity. Let us implement the fixes quickly and support, not needlessly hinder, Canadians trying to make a positive global impact.

via Amos: Let’s fix this Citizenship Act obstacle to Canadians overseas | Ottawa Citizen

More immigrants coming to Atlantic Canada, but retention rates low: report

Ongoing retention rate problem – only about half remain:

More people are immigrating to Atlantic Canada than ever before, but many do not stay, a new report says.

The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council report released Thursday said a record 8,300 immigrants arrived in 2015, and yet more the following year.

The Halifax-based council said 11,600 immigrants came to Atlantic Canada in the first nine months of 2016, due in part to an influx of Syrian refugees.

“The total numbers have tripled since 2002,” David Chaundy, author of the report, said in a phone interview Thursday.

Chaundy, the council’s research director, attributes the increase to expanded use of provincial nominee programs, which allow provinces to nominate people who wish to immigrate to their region, up to a cap.

“That’s what has really driven the growth,” said Chaundy, adding that this year the region could see closer to 19,000 immigrants, due in part to a new three-year Atlantic immigration pilot project announced by Ottawa and the four provinces last year.

But Chaundy said retention rates for Atlantic Canada are low, and lengthy processing times are a barrier for greater use of immigration in the business community.

“The challenge is on the retention of these immigrants,” said Chaundy. “Although our immigration numbers are rising, we’re still losing close to half of them over a five-year period.”

Although express entry applications are being processed within six months, provincial nominee applications are taking 16 months to be processed by the federal government, he said.

“These can be a challenge for employers looking to bring in a worker fairly quickly,” said Chaundy. “We really need to make sure we have resources to process these applications in a timely manner.”

About 80 per cent of immigrants settle in the region’s major urban centres.

The report is based on information from Statistics Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Source: More immigrants coming to Atlantic Canada, but retention rates low: report –

Children born abroad to Canadians may end up as ‘lost Canadians’

Hardly surprising, as the intent of the change from the previous system of allowing those born abroad to Canadian parents to retain their citizenship required a formal application and to either reside in Canada for one year prior to their application or have established a “substantial connection” to Canada by age 28, was to limit the transmission of citizenship to those with a more immediate connection to Canada.

Moreover, the previous process was hard to administer and, at least theoretically, allowed for endless transmission of citizenship.

One can debate whether a first or second generation limit is more appropriate and fair (unlike European ‘bloodline’ notions of citizenship, Canada, like most immigration-based countries, has more of civic approach to citizenship).

The same issue of how siblings may be treated differently depending on their birthplace can also arise in second and subsequent generations.

Bill C-6 took a relatively narrow and ‘surgical’ approach to addressing some of the concerns regarding the previous government’s citizenship legislation and related initiatives in line with the platform commitments and maintaining the emphasis on integrity.

This will be discussed during the Senate’s hearings on C-6 given that the family concerned intends to file a brief (it was not discussed at length during the Commons consideration of the Bill):

Like many Canadians, Jennifer and Evan Brown moved to the United States for work. In 2011, they jumped at the chance to live in New York when Evan, a chartered accountant, was offered a job there. After the couple had their first child a year later, they moved back to Canada, where they eventually had a second. But there’s a crucial difference between their children: One has more citizenship-transmission rights than the other.

The Browns, who now live in Victoria, are affected by a law passed by the government of Stephen Harper, whereby the children of Canadian citizens born abroad cannot – with only a few exceptions – pass on their own citizenship if they also have children abroad. The provision was introduced as part of changes the previous, Conservative government made to citizenship laws. While the current Liberal government is undoing much of that legislation, it has so far not addressed the concerns of families like the Browns.

Without citizenship, an individual does not have access to many of the benefits that come with being Canadian, including the ability to travel with a Canadian passport and to vote or run for political office. It can also complicate the individual’s ability to work in Canada and access all social benefits. With that much at stake for their children, Canadians born abroad may feel pressure to restrict their travels and working opportunities.

It took four years for the Browns to figure out that their four-year-old son, Jackson, born in the United States, was affected by the law. Like most children in the same circumstances, their son received a letter from the Canadian government explaining the rule, but the Browns didn’t fully understand it at the time.

Ms. Brown was recently at a local playground when another parent, Roy Brooke, told her how his son, five-year-old Nathan, may not be able to pass citizenship onto his children if they are born abroad as Nathan was. Ms. Brown realized the rule probably applied to her son as well.

“I had the assumption that he’d actually have more doors opened for him having been born in the U.S., and then I felt that possibly we’d actually restricted the most important door for his children,” Ms. Brown said.

The rule stipulates that someone born or adopted outside Canada to a Canadian parent is not a Canadian citizen if the person’s parent was also born abroad after April 17, 2009, when the provision became law. The limit was brought into force in an effort to “achieve greater simplicity and transparency in citizenship laws as well as to preserve the value of citizenship,” according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

The Brown and Brooke families were not working for the Canadian government or Canadian Forces when they had their children abroad – the only exception to the rule – so their children were not exempt from the first-generation citizenship limit.

Mr. Brooke has taken the fight for the citizenship-transmission rights of children like Nathan and Jackson to Ottawa. After two years of unsuccessfully attempting to persuade the Conservatives to change their policy, he is pushing the Liberals to do so. He had his eyes set on the Liberals’ Bill C-6, which aims to reverse some Conservative changes to the Citizenship Act, but was told it was too late to amend the legislation to remove the first-generation citizenship limit. The bill is currently at first reading in the Senate, where Mr. Brooke is now seeking witness status before committee and encouraging others affected to make their concerns known.

Immigration Minister John McCallum said at the end of May that he would look into the matter. His office referred further questions to the Immigration Department, which refused to speculate whether changes may be tabled in the future.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan, who has met with other affected families, called the policy “discriminatory” against Canadians who choose to work abroad, especially in today’s global economy.

“The Prime Minister himself has said on many occasions now, ‘a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.’ This also applies to second-generation Canadians born abroad as well. They shouldn’t be treated as second-class citizens,” Ms. Kwan said.

Mr. Brooke and his wife, Sara Bjorkquist, were working in Geneva, Switzerland, when their son was born in August, 2010. Had they been aware of this law, Mr. Brooke said he and his wife would have thought twice about having children overseas. He’s now concerned that Nathan may not be able to pass on citizenship to his children if he chooses to follow in his parents’ footsteps and work abroad.

“My decision to serve at the UN could penalize me, my son and his offspring,” Mr. Brooke said. “Three generations are hurt because we decided to live overseas for a few years and work for the UN, and that is not right.”

Only a couple of exceptions can apply to the children of Canadians like Nathan: if at the time of the birth abroad, the child’s other parent is a Canadian citizen by birth in Canada or by being granted citizenship through immigration, or if the affected parent is working for the Canadian government or Canadian Forces at the time of the birth.

“If [Nathan] works overseas, his children could be stateless if he works for the Red Cross, the UN or any non-federal government entity, and marries a non-Canadian,” Mr. Brooke said.

Parents of children born abroad who are not eligible for citizenship may sponsor their children to become permanent residents and then apply for citizenship.

In 2009, the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada estimated that 2.8 million Canadians – or 8 per cent of Canada’s total population – lived abroad. IRCC said it does not know how many Canadians born abroad are affected by the first-generation citizenship limit.

Advocacy groups, including the Canadian Council for Refugees, have called on the government to restore the right to citizenship for the second generation born abroad or at least to provide citizenship to those who would otherwise be stateless under the law.

“By denying citizenship to the second generation born abroad, Canada is creating a new set of ‘lost Canadians’ and making some children born to Canadians stateless,” the CCR said in a report on Bill C-6.

Source: Children born abroad to Canadians may end up as ‘lost Canadians’ – The Globe and Mail