Former Canadian immigration chief calls for increased immigration

A Canadian Customs and Immigration service signImage via Wikipediaby Ray Clancy on May 30, 2011

A former immigration boss in Canada is calling for the country’s annual immigration intake to be increased by 100,000 a year to match needed population targets.
Robert Vineberg, a former Director of Federal-Provincial Relations at Immigration Canada, said policy changes are needed to boost numbers in most provinces.
He pointed out that the major political parties are failing to address the issue despite agreeing that Canada needs to increase immigration levels by 1% per year.
Now a research fellow at the Canada West Foundation, he argued that Canada’s native labour force is stagnating. Most provinces, and particularly the Western Provinces, want to increase their population and see increased immigration as a major way to do so. The way to expand the federal immigration streams is not to freeze growth in provincial programmes but to increase overall levels during the next several years,’ he explained.
‘An increase in immigration levels by 50,000 to 300,000 per year would bring the ratio back to the 0.87% figure of two decades ago. An increase of 100,000 to 350,000 per year would see Canada finally achieve the one-percent-per-year goal that all parties ostensibly espouse,’ he added.
His comments have been made as a result of Canada’s major political parties failing to address the issue of how many immigrants Canada needs, despite all of them expressing support for an increase in Canadian immigration.

He also hit out at a recent study from the Fraser Institute which suggested that immigration costs Canada as much as $23.6 billion a year. Economists Herb Grubel and Patrick Grady used statistics from the 2006 census to argue for a reduction in immigration.
They said that immigrants received on average $6,051 more in benefits than they paid in taxes and that this weak economic performance of recent immigrants is costing Canadian taxpayers between $16.3 billion and $23.6 billion a year.
Vineberg said that the average income of immigrants in Canada more than 15 years before the 2006 census was actually higher than for native-born Canadians. ‘This turns the Fraser Institute’s analysis on its head and suggests that immigrants are net contributors to government revenues if their entire working life is considered,’ he said.
The data used can lead to diametrically opposed conclusions, he added and described the study as not addressing the issue. ‘The whole principle of such analysis is faulty,’ he said, adding that it zoomed in on one small aspect of the economics of immigration and ignored the larger picture entirely.

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