Immigration and the
Immigrants make up a considerable proportion of the Canadian population. At the time of the 1991 Census, there were 4.3 million immigrants living in Canada, which is 16% of the total Canadian population. (See Graph 1, Immigrants as a Percentage of Canada's Population, 1901-1996) Over the past decades the level of immigration in Canada has increased from an average of 137 000 immigrants arriving in Canada in the 1960s to an average of about 200 000 in 1998. (See Table1, Annual Immigration Plan 1998) The largest share of immigrants admitted into Canada are in the economic class, in 1994, close to half of the new immigrants coming to Canada were economic class immigrants. Immigration is needed to maintain the Canadian population; "Canada will be an aging society with such a low birth rate that it will soon be unable to sustain its population without sustained immigration." Immigrants are a source of labour to the Canadian economy; immigrants are as likely as people born in Canada to be employed, and many are skilled workers that the Canadian economy is in need of. Business class, investor and entrepreneur immigrant help to provide job opportunities in the economy, and also generate more economic activities and income for the Canadian economy. "Analysis of data from the household/family file of the 1981 Canadian Census of Population reveals that, regardless of origin, immigrants benefit the Canadian-born population through the public treasury." Immigrants are an aid to the Canadian economy as a result of its ability to sustain the aging population, to provide labour, and job opportunities.
Firstly, Canada, like other rich countries of the world, will become an aging society with such a low birth rate; Canada will soon be unable to maintain its population without taking in immigrants. The low birth rate will soon lead to a shortage of future workers for the labour force. As we enter into the twenty-first century, there will be more older people requiring pensions, and in need of extra health care, but there will not be enough young workers entering the job market to support these needs. The fertility rate in Canada is roughly 1.66, which is below the replacement rate of 2.1 and less than half the fertility rate of 3.63 during the baby boom. Despite the number of children is currently growing because the large number of baby boomers are having children, "this so-called echo effect will have run its course by the early part of the next century so that, in the absence of much higher immigration, Canada's population will begin to decline."
According to Statistics Canada, the Canadian population will stabilize at 31 million in 2026 if the fertility rate of 1.66 is maintained and 140 000 immigrants are accepted per year, and it will then begin to decline. If the rate of immigration is raised to 200 000 per year, the population will stabilize in 2035, at 34 million, before it begins to decline.
The immigrant population is older, on average, than the Canadian-born population because immigrants tend to arrive in their prime working years. Also, it must be noted that children born to immigrants are included in the Canadian-born population rather than the immigrant population.
Secondly, of all immigrants accepted into Canada, close to 50% are in the economic class consisting of business immigrants and skilled workers. (See Table 2, Immigration Levels, 1998 Canada, Quebec* and Other Provinces) Most immigrants tend to arrive in their prime working years. Immigrants living in Canada are more likely than people born in Canada to have a university degree, in 1991, 14% of immigrants aged 15 and over had a university degree, while only 11% of people born in Canada had a university degree. Immigrants with post-secondary qualifications are more likely than those born in Canada with post-secondary qualifications to be graduates of professional programs in engineering, mathematics, and applied science. (See Graph 2, Economic Category Persons Admitted, 1994-1996) For example, in 1991, 17% of immigrant men were graduates of these programs, where there were only 9% of Canadian-born men were graduates of these programs. Immigrants are also more likely than people born in Canada to have full-time, full-year jobs. In 1991, 63% of employed immigrant men and 50% of employed immigrant women worked at full-time, full-year jobs, compared to 59% of Canadian-born men, and 45% of Canadian-born women. According to Employment and Immigration Canada, in 1989-95 the fastest growing occupations include computer programmers and system analysts, data processing equipment operators, and technical salespersons, as well as occupations in health care. But fact is that Canada does not have enough skilled workers to work in these fields, therefore Canada must import workers skilled in these fields, and immigration is the best way to import these workers. There is a higher percentage of immigrant men working in professional or management occupations then Canadian-born men. In 1991, 32% of immigrant men worked in these fields, while only 27% of Canadian-born men worked in these fields. (See Table 4, Comparison of Employment between Immigrant and Canadian-Born Workers) Canada, like other industrial countries will be facing a shortage in skilled workers; Canada will have to open its borders to increased immigration by foreign workers, especially workers with education and skills. "In fact, industrial countries could find themselves competing for certain types of foreign workers."
As well as skilled workers, investor immigrants benefit the Canadian economy just as much, under the Canadian immigration law, in order to qualify as an investor, the applicant must have:
1. successfully operated, controlled or directed a business in the past;
2. have a net worth equal to or greater than a minimum of $500 000 (or $700 000 where the investment is subject to a guarantee); and
3. have made a minimum investment of either $250 000 or $350 000 depending upon the province where the investment will be made (or $500 000 in the case of an investment subject to a guarantee).
Investor immigrants not only bring in new investments into the Canadian, but also more job opportunities for Canadians. (See Table 3, Projected Immigration Arrivals, 1997) Besides investor immigrants, entrepreneur immigrants also help to create more jobs for Canadians. Under the Canadian immigration law, an entrepreneur applicant must intend to create business that will create at least one job opportunity for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada other than the applicant and his or her dependent. It is discovered that immigrants with jobs are more likely to be self-employed than Canadian-born workers. In 1991, 16% of employed immigrant men were self-employed, yet only 12% of employed Canadian-born men were self-employed. As for employed immigrant women, 8% owned their own business, compared to 6% for Canadian-born women. (See Table 4, Comparison of Employment between Immigrant and Canadian-Born Workers) Another thing to note is that the incomes of immigrants living in Canada are higher than the incomes of people born in Canada. In 1990, immigrants had an average income from all sources of $25 300, while Canadian-born people had only an average income from all sources of $23 700. With the immigrants receiving the higher income, it is only right to say that immigrants pay more income tax to the government of Canada.
From the discussion of how immigrants will be able to relief Canada's problem of its aging society, importing of skilled workers, and business immigrants accepted into Canada on condition that they will invest in the economy, and create jobs for Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada. Without a sustained level of immigration, Canada will be unable to sustain its population, with such a low birth rate; Canada will soon have to face a shortage in future workers for the labour force. With the current occupation requirements, Canada is clearly short of skilled workers to fill in positions in fields such as computer programmers and system analysts, data processing equipment operators, and technical salespersons, as well as occupations in health care. Foreign workers must be imported for outside of Canada, and immigration is the best way to import these workers. Money from outside of Canada is also being brought into the Canadian economy through investor and entrepreneur immigrants. These immigrants not only bring in new investments, but they also help to create jobs for Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada. Therefore, immigration benefits the Canadian economy.