At a time when we read so much about building walls and installing borders, it’s so refreshing to hear about a different approach. Canada’s immigration ministry recently announced in its annual report to Parliament that the country aims to add more than 1 million immigrants to its population over the next three years.
What will this mean for Canada? And, could Australia take a leaf from Canada’s book? Let’s explore further…
Canada’s annual immigration intake to increase dramatically
The new report details a plan to admit up to 350,000 immigrants to Canada this year, including 89,000 as part of its family reunification programme, 176,000 that are federal economic and provincial/territorial nominees and 58,500 refugees. Immigrants admitted to Canada would then increase to 360,000 in 2020 and 370,000 in 2021.
This represents a significant increase in the number of immigrants accepted into Canada. In 2017, Canada admitted 286,479 people as permanent residents.
Canada’s government is gradually increasing its annual immigration admissions to nearly 1% of the population by 2020.
Canada depends on immigrants for future success
Today, Canada and Australia are grappling with the same challenges - how to counteract the impact of an ageing population and declining birth rate.
Canada acknowledges the positive impact of immigration on the country’s labour force growth. Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship said in the report:
"Thanks in great part to the newcomers we have welcomed throughout our history, Canada has developed into the strong and vibrant country we all enjoy. Immigrants and their descendants have made immeasurable contributions to Canada, and our future success depends on continuing to ensure they are welcomed and well-integrated.”
Hussen added: "Growing immigration levels, particularly in the economic class, will help sustain our labour force, support economic growth and spur innovation."
The report continues, “With an ageing population and low fertility rates, immigration plays an important role in ensuring that Canada’s population and labour force continue to grow.”
It highlights the positive impact of Canada’s recent immigration programme, including:
Smart, skilled immigrants - In 2017, economic immigrants residing in Canada for at least 5 years exceeded Canadian average earnings by 6% and were 15-24% more likely to be working than Canadian-born residents,
Population boost for rural areas - In 2017, 39% of economic immigrants settled outside Montreal, Toronto, or Vancouver,
Multicultural integration - 93% of immigrants have a strong sense of belonging to Canada (source: 2013 General Social Survey), and;
Economic success - In 2016-2017, international students and visitors contributed $31 billion to the Canadian economy.
Australia’s current stance on immigration
Australia’s annual permanent immigration intake has been capped at 190,000 since 2011. However, last year the actual intake dropped to just over 162,000 - a decrease of more than 10% on the previous year and the lowest level since 2007.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said several times that he favours capping the annual immigration intake at 160,000 as part of his government’s planned overhaul of immigration. But, he concedes that this cut would need to be managed carefully.
Scott Morrison plans to give Australian states more authority over their immigration intake, saying in a recent news corp event in Sydney that the government planned to “move away from top-down discussions about population to set our migration intake caps.”
He said that immigration would be lower in 2019 due to these adjustments. Nonetheless, Morrison also admitted that population growth was vital for economic success, especially as an ageing population continues to impact workforce participation.
“Without migration, Australia’s workforce would be shrinking by 2020,” Scott Morrison stressed. “With migration, the Productivity Commission estimates that labour force participation will be around 10% higher in 2060.”
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has also long been campaigning for a cut to Australia's immigration intake.
Organisations such as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry have expressed concerns about the direction of Australia’s recent immigration strategy.
Chief Executive of the ACCI James Pearson said in a media interview last year that there were “plenty of studies ... which demonstrate that strong, well-planned and controlled migration drives economic growth”.
With the Federal election due in May, it will be interesting to see if the government continues with its more cautious approach to immigration.
Shining a positive light on immigration
Canada's welcoming approach to immigrants is in stark contrast to the more restrictive immigration policies of other Western nations. Canada is creating a vision of the future - and it’s a future that depends on immigration.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration has heralded the acceptance of immigrants since he took office in 2015. When U.S. President Donald Trump announced a travel ban on refugees and people from primarily Muslim countries in 2017, Justin Trudeau said that Canada would welcome migrants of all faiths.
And Canada is thriving - In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2018, the country ranked 12th overall and was top of the list for countries with the most diverse workforce.
One thing’s for sure, if you want to live and work in Canada, this is a perfect time time to make that dream a reality.
Contact FastVisa for immigration advice
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