BY ALTHIA RAJ, POSTMEDIA NEWS JULY 19, 2011
Canada needs more immigrants to sustain its economic growth but the Conservative government won't significantly increase immigration levels because Canadians don't want too many newcomers and the federal government can't afford to integrate them either, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says.
Canada faces a labour shortage and needs immigrants to offset the balance of an aging population, Kenney is expected to tell the Vancouver Board of Trade Tuesday.
"Several studies have concluded that we would have to quadruple immigration levels from 250,000 to more than one million annually in order to maintain the (working) age ratio in the Canadian population. But that's not going to happen," he is to say, according to his speaking notes.
"We do not have the resources or ability to integrate a million new immigrants every year. We can't teach them English or French. We can't flood our taxpayer-funded services like health care and public education. We don't put such high pressure on housing and real estate markets," Kenney explains.
"We must also be very careful not to jeopardize the generally very positive and welcoming attitude toward immigration and immigrants that Canada enjoys," he later adds.
Only 30 per cent of Canadian immigrants are economic migrants, people selected on the basis of their necessary skills or arranged employment offer, Kenney notes. Another 30 per cent are the spouses or dependents of these individuals and 26 per cent are immigrants from family class while 14 per cent are refugees.
"People want to come to Canada because we are a model for the world. We can't, however, take all who want to come. There is a limit," Kenney says.
The Citizenship and Immigration Department is currently consulting with Canadians about amount and the types of people it should accept into the country.
Faced with a backlog of more than a million people in the immigration queue, Kenney says he has issued ministerial instructions to put applicants with experience in key occupations and those with job offers from Canadian employers in front of the line.
"We have enough parents and grandparent applicants for seven years, and this problem is getting worse," the minister says.
Kenney is also expected to announce that the federal government will increase the number of provincial nominees — immigrants that provinces themselves select based on their own economic needs — from approximately 36,000 to 40,000.
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- The newcomers numbers game: Jason Kenneys balancing act (theglobeandmail.com)
- Canada's immigration levels won't jump drastically: Kenney (canada.com)