tweeted the following: “In 2013 we’ll keep immigration levels at ~250,000. The NDP says we should increase immigration by 40 per cent to at least 350,000.What do you think?” He went on to further tweet that 90 per cent of Canadians oppose higher immigration levels.
I wonder if those 90 per cent of Canadians understand just how
important immigrants are to population growth across Canada –
particularly in the country’s growing mid-sized urban centres?
the vast majority of immigration into Canada has clustered in the
Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) as well
as some of the smaller urban centres surrounding Toronto and Vancouver.
recent years, however, there has been a substantial increase in the
annual immigrant levels in mid-sized urban centres that historically
relied on inter-provincial migration and natural increases for most of
their population gains.
Statistics Canada data estimating the
components of annual population growth shows the relative share of
immigrant population has been shifting away
from Toronto and Vancouver. Between 2002 and 2006, the Toronto CMA
attracted 206 immigrants per year for every 10,000 in the overall
population. From 2007 to 2011, the average annual immigrant level (per
10,000 population) dropped by 19 per cent to 159 per 10,000. The
Vancouver CMA witnessed a 16 per cent decline.
Toronto and Vancouver still attract the most immigrants – by a fairly wide margin – but their share of the total is waning.
this trend with some of Canada’s fast growing mid-sized urban centres.
The Moncton CMA only attracted 8.8 immigrants per 10,000 population on
average between 1997 and 2001. Between 2007 and 2011, the average annual
number of immigrants had increased to 37.5 per 10,000 population – a
324 per cent increase compared to the 2002-2006 timeframe. As a reward for this boost in foreign-born population, Mr. Kenny closed the local Citizenship and Immigration Canada office in Moncton.
not just Moncton. Using the same time frames for comparison, Saskatoon
has witnessed an average annual immigrant per 10,000 population growth
rate of 188 per cent. Regina is up 206 per cent. Saint John immigration
is up 165 per cent. Trois-Rivières’ relative share of immigrants is also
up strongly. While not CMAs, Charlottetown and Fredericton have among
the fastest growing immigrant populations in Canada.
During the 2010/2011 year the immigrant population in Canada’s CMAs alone was estimated to have increased by nearly 240,000.
am told that the Ontario government wants to revert back to the
immigration levels it saw back in the early to mid-2000s to boost both
its economy and population. The CMAs of Toronto,
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Windsor, Ottawa-Gatineau, Hamilton,
Guelph, Kingston, St. Catharines-Niagara, Oshawa, Brantford and
Peterborough all witnessed relative declines in their share of new
immigrants to Canada in recent years. If Ontario increases its share of
newcomers, the rest of the country’s urban centres will suffer.
the federal government sticks to its guns and holds down immigration
levels, the losers could very well be Canada’s mid-sized urban centres –
the very communities that have been increasingly relying on immigration
to foster population growth and supply labour markets.
reasons why Mr. Kenny is retrenching on immigration levels is to force
chronic users of Employment Insurance back into the year round labour
market. But this is a risky gambit. Immigrants are being attracted to
cities such as Moncton and Regina because of job opportunities that are
not being filled – for whatever reason – by the local population. In
addition, most of the chronic use of EI is in rural regions and not the
growing urban centres.
While it is appropriate for government and
industry to work together to address the skills gaps in the work force,
choking off immigration with the expectation that those jobs will be
filled by current residents could end up causing more harm than good.
There is already some anecdotal evidence in New Brunswick that
businesses are losing immigrant workers because of the EI reforms.
Kenny wants to cap immigration at 250,000 per year. I’m not sure he can
achieve that level, keep Ontario happy and assure a steady supply of
new immigrants to Canada’s fast growing mid-sized urban centres.
If his immigration cap stifles population growth, the 90 per cent may well end up regretting their position.
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