Friday, October 28, 2011

Elderly immigrants contribute


Re: "Sensible limits to Canadian generosity; Ottawa right to let in fewer elderly relatives of immigrants," by Lorne Gunter, Oct. 23.
Lorne Gunter made a feeble argument in support of federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's attempt to "reduce the number of elderly relatives of immigrants."
He grounds his polemic in his contention that most elderly immigrants will never work in ways that contribute any or sufficient taxes for "social services they will consume."
Very clearly, Gunter betrays his xenophobia of elderly relatives of minority cultures and ethnicities - primarily aged parents of today's immigrants.
I want to offer an alternate way of looking at these elderly immigrants and to demonstrate Gunter's grounding contention as nothing but a fallacy.
Through my work and association with immigrant communities, I have witnessed elderly immigrants - yes, most speaking no English or French - who are grandparents taking on the most loving, caring parenting role in looking after their grandchildren.
This natural sharing of whatever it takes to provide a nurturing home environment for children allows adult immigrant couples to work two or more jobs as a means of settling in financial security in Canada.
I can most readily introduce to Gunter doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, scientists, entrepreneurs, highly skilled tradesmen, professors and professionals of all kinds who grew up in such extended families where immigrant grandparents were the main caregivers to them through childhood and adolescence.
I argue that these "elderly relatives" - i.e. government and Gunter's targets for their parasitical dependence in this country - do work in the truest sense of the word and that they have immeasurably contributed more to enriching tax revenue and Canadian society as a whole beyond compare.
I can also most ably show Gunter countless elderly immigrants who come to this country with wealth and pensions. They have bought homes - from moderate to very high-end properties, paying property taxes in amounts surpassing what many working Canadians pay into tax revenues.
Many of these seniors financially assist their adult children who are upstart immigrants to buy their first cars and homes.
I know immigrant seniors who help grandchildren to be able to afford a university education.
What Gunter contends is, because some people work and pay tax, they are deserving beneficiaries of social services. Wonderful neo-liberal material. However, it should be fair to ask then how much social services these "elderly relatives" exemplified above deserve?
I need to wonder how much tax Gunter pays and in his view, social services he should and - using his definitive grammatical mood - will deserve?
Obviously, Gunter's grounding contention has no legs to stand on. He defends his support to Kenney's policy as "I'm not as concerned by the cultural arguments against immigration as I am by the economic ones."
Now that his "economic ones" have gone down in flame, I can't wait to hear his cultural arguments against denying Canadians their extended families.