Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cut immigration during recession, Research on Public Policy tells Canada

Barack Obama, President of the United States o...
Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, with Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Andy Radia | Canada Politics 


Another report, this one by the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP), claims to have the answer to Canada's immigration woes. Just limit immigration during recessionary times, it says.
As has been widely reported, many new immigrants to Canada are struggling financially. The unemployment rate among this group is now four to five percentage points higher than general population, under-employment in this group is between 25 to 35 per cent and one out of  every five new immigrants is living in poverty.
The Stephen Harper government, like its Liberal predecessors, has taken a three-pronged approach to curb the declining economic welfare of Canada's immigrants. It has implemented a comprehensive foreign credential recognition program, invested in settlement services and has re-focused immigration policy based on our economic needs.
But the problems persist.
While the authors of the IRPP study support many of the Harper government's policies on immigration, it also suggests newcomers did better in the '60s, '70s, and '80s, because back then we adjusted immigration flows based on Canada's economic performance.
"During recessions economic outcomes deteriorate more among recent immigrants than among the Canadian-born," the study notes, claiming between 2008 and 2009 the unemployment rate rose two percentage points among the Canadian-born and 5.9 percentage points among recent immigrants.
"Reducing immigrant inflows in recessions or shortly thereafter restricts labour supply in a period when labour demand is falling. It also helps prevent longer-run economic 'scarring' that can occur when new labour market entrants are unable to obtain jobs or are unable to practise their skills over a long period."
Other points in the report:
- Canada has one of the largest immigration programs per capita among developed countries. Canada currently receives twice as many immigrants as the United States, proportionately, and this remains true even counting estimates of U.S. illegal immigrant flows.
- Data from the 2006 census shows that immigrants are earning 60 to 70 per cent of the wage earned by the average Canadian-born worker in their first few years in the country, compared to 85-90 per cent in the late 1970s.
- Unlike the recent Fraser Institute report, which argued that immigrants cost Canada billions every year, the IRPP report concludes that "immigration has a very modest impact on measures such as [gross domestic product] per capita and the government's balance sheet, although whether it is positive, negative or zero is open for debate, with most observers favouring 'small positive.'"
- The study also suggests Canada should be targeting younger immigrants and those that speak English and/or French.
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