Scandinavian Countries Look to Canada for Immigration Inspiration

Posted by Alberto Fascetti on Jan 8, 2019 1:06:05 AM



When it comes to quality of life, happiness and social equity, we’re fascinated by all things Scandinavian. Yet, Canada is providing guidance and inspiration for Scandinavian countries coping with the challenges of increased immigration and ethnic diversity. Let’s explore further...


Scandinavian countries have long been admired for their mix of prosperity and social cohesion. When we think about Scandinavia, we broadly picture countries that have managed the tricky balance of securing economic success, along with social equity and welfare.

Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world and we admire Scandinavia’s education systems, welfare policies, healthcare and gender equality.

Yet, as far as immigration and integration are concerned, the tables have turned and Sweden, Denmark and Norway are looking to Canada for new solutions.

Canada’s immigration model

Canada has one of the world’s most prosperous and successful immigrant populations. It also has one of the highest per-capita immigration rates in the world - about three times higher than the United States.

Immigration and multiculturalism contribute to Canada’s sense of national identity. Government policies and institutions promote permanent residency and inclusive citizenship and integration programmes are supported by public-private partnerships.

Recent polls of Canadian voters show overwhelming support for immigration - 82% think immigration has a positive impact on the economy and two-thirds view multiculturalism as one of Canada’s most appealing features.

Canada’s immigration policies have a broadly economic focus.  Since the mid-1960’s most of Canada’s immigrants are admitted using a points scale that pinpoints education, work skills, language ability and a range of other practical attributes that define their potential contribution to Canada’s workforce.

The result is the world’s most educated foreign-born population. Canada’s immigrants work hard, contribute to business growth and bring skills that boost the economy.

Canada’s points-based immigration system helps to maintain a sense of control over immigration policies and counteracts worries about immigration being a drain on the welfare state.

Immigrants as a ‘resource’

Scandinavian countries have faced recent challenges of increased immigration and ethnic diversity. They have grappled with the challenge of integrating migrants into their workforce and society and providing them with opportunities and equal rights.

As relative newcomers to immigration, Denmark, Norway and Sweden have looked to Canada’s immigration and integration policy model, which has played a key role in the Scandinavian reform process during the last two decades.

Canada’s ‘immigrants as a resource’ approach has been readily adopted by Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Scandinavia has focused mainly on skilled economic migrants and it also places emphasis on immigrants’ personal responsibility for integrating into the Scandinavian labour market and society generally.

Norway’s use of citizenship ceremonies and a points system for economic migrants in Denmark were openly inspired by Canada and the Canadian immigration model also helped to accelerate the acceptance of dual citizenship in Sweden.

A flexible and transparent points-based system certainly works very successfully in Canada, enabling the Canadian government to pursue a strategic vision for economic growth.

What do you think? Is Canada’s focus on skilled migration the right approach?

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World Economic Forum - How Canada is inspiring Scandinavian Countries on Immigration

Environics Institute - Canada 2018 - Canadian Public Opinion on Immigration and Inclusion

UK Business Insider - Reasons Why Denmark is the Happiest Country in the World

CBC News - Canada immigration levels

Migration - Canadian Exceptionalism

Tags: migration trends, from the world, migration mindset

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