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Canada should welcome 100,000 more immigrants per year: Report

Talk about a discussion starter. Canadian professor Tony Fang is making the contentious recommendation Canada would economically benefit from hiking its annual quote of immigrants to about 350,000 from the current 250,000.

Increasing immigration to Canada by 100,000 per year would boost Canada’s gross domestic product and spur investment in housing, and would not add to unemployment, according to results of Fang's study, which were released at the national Metropolis conference last week in Vancouver.

The York University professor led the study for The Metropolis Project. He claims his projections for the period 2012-2021 show that adding one million immigrants – an extra 100,000 annually over the current level of about 250,000 − would increase productivity and help the government’s balance sheets.

Fang's recommendation conflicts with the impressions of many Metro Vancouver and Toronto residents who worry that housing prices are rising far too high because of a river of immigrants into urban centres, and that strong immigration levels keeps Canadian wages low.

Canada has the highest immigration rate per capita of any major country.

However, a news release about Fang's report justifies his findings on the basis of the way he and his fellow researchers considered the interdependence of factors such as interest rates, wages, inflation, monetary economic policy and standard of living.

"To study the impacts of large-scale immigration on the Canadian economy, the researchers took into account many factors including: immigrants’ participation in the labour force; associated spending on government services and infrastructure; funds brought by immigrants; and labour market differences between migrants (in order to capture the effect of large-scale immigration on Canadian-born workers)," says the release.

Fang, a professor of human resources management professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York, performed a series of macroeconomic simulations with ProfessorMorley Gunderson, of the Centre of Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto, and Professor Peter Dungan, director of the Policy & Economic Analysis Program at the University of Toronto.

Fang's report -- which focusses on the economics of immigration and not other factors, such as cultural and environmental -- says that adding 100,000 more immigrants per year would:
• Increase real GDP by 2.3 per cent over the 10-year period by 2021
• Increase Canada’s population cumulatively by 2.6 per cent, creating demand for goods and services (especially housing)
• Add $14 billion to government coffers because taxes paid by immigrants exceed government expenditures

Conducted with funding from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada and The Metropolis Project, the study proposes to "provide policymakers at all levels of government with information about the costs and benefits of large-scale immigration, to better inform their decisions."

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