April 2012 Volume 19 Number 2
Canada admits about 275,000 immigrants a year, including two-thirds who are admitted after one member of the family achieves at least 67 points in a 100-point test that awards points for youth, education, knowledge of English or French, and Canadian work experience or a Canadian job offer. As a result of the point-selection system, over half of the adult immigrants arriving in Canada have college degrees.
Immigrants arriving have high levels of education, but many struggle to find jobs in Canada that use this education. The government wants to reduce so-called brain waste by expanding programs that help newcomers to find jobs in Canada that use their skills and by favoring applicants for immigrant visas who have skills that are currently in demand in Canada.
Two programs that may be expanded are the provincial nominee system, under which employers of temporary workers ask provincial governments to nominate some of their guest workers for immigrant visas, and the Canadian experience class, which allows graduating foreign students and skilled foreigners to stay and settle in Canada.
The Fraser Institute released a report in March 2012 concluding that immigrants who arrived between 1987 and 2004 received about C$6,000 more in government services per immigrant in 2005 than they paid in taxes. The report attributed the deficit to lower earnings, progressive income taxes, and universal social programs. It urged ending the point system and allowing employers to select or sponsor immigrants they want to fill jobs.
The Canadian government has recognized the declining earnings of immigrants. To help skilled immigrants use their credentials in Canada, the government has promised to speed up the recognition of credentials earned outside Canada. To speed up integration, the government provides settlement services, including language and skills training.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney wants to revamp the immigrant investor program, which requires foreigners to lend C$800,000 to a provincial government for five years to receive an immigrant visa. Kenney says that the minimum investment should be raised and that foreign investors should be required to actively participate in the management of their investment in Canada, turning them from passive investors into active entrepreneurs. Some 10,000 immigrant investor visas were issued in 2011; the back log is almost 90,000.
The number of temporary workers in Canada increased from about 100,000 in 2000 to 250,000 in 2010, largely because of the oil boom in western Canada and the search by more employers for workers to fill jobs in sectors such as construction and hospitality.
Census. Canada's 2011 census found 33.5 million residents, up six percent from the previous census in 2006. Over 80 percent of Canadians live in urban areas. The largest metro areas are Toronto with 5.6 million people; Montreal with 3.8 million; Vancouver with 2.3 million; and Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton with 1.2 million each.
Alberta is the fastest-growing province, and its two major cities, Edmonton and Calgary, the fastest-growing in Canada due to migration into Alberta from other provinces, and immigration.
The Metropolis Project, which has been receiving C$565,000 a year recently, is ending in April 2012. Since 1996, several federal agencies have supported a network of 700 researchers and immigration research centers in Vancouver, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal and Toronto.
Grady, Patrick and Herbert Grubel. 2012. Fiscal Transfers to Immigrants in Canada: Responding to Critics and a Revised Estimate. March 15. www.fraserinstitute.org/research-news/display.aspx?id=18103