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Canada Needs Immigrants as Much as Immigrants Need Canada

Canada is one of the largest countries in the world, second only to Russia in territorial size. However, it has a small population compared with other countries. In fact, it ranks 38th in the world behind countries such as the United Kingdom and Italy, which are a fraction of its size.

Canada’s rather modest population is largely a matter of its own doing. Before confederation and up until about 1967, Canada’s economic policies and inward-facing worldview made it undesirable to immigrants. More people were fleeing Canada than trying to get in. Today, things are different. Canada is viewed as a country of immigrants. According to 2016 data from Statistics Canada, immigrants make up approximately 22 per cent of Canada’s population and are responsible for 71 per cent of population growth. The Conference Board of Canada predicts that Canada’s population growth will be driven entirely by immigrants by the year 2040.

In addition to fueling population growth, immigration helps support economic activity across the country as well as address the issue of Canada’s aging population by bringing in young, working-age immigrants. According to a report by the Conference Board of Canada, if Canada shuts down immigration outright, 26.9 per cent of the population would be 65 years and over by 2040. In fact, Canada’s population would steadily diminish because, as it currently stands, Canada’s birth rate is at 1.6 kids per woman, while the replacement rate is 2.1. Furthermore, Canada’s potential economic growth is expected to grow by an average of 1.9 per cent annually in the decades to come. Nonetheless, without newcomers, that growth would slow to 1.3 per cent. Immigrants are the economically active part of the population.

As for innovation and culture, they too would suffer without immigration. Immigrants make up 40 per cent of academic chairs in Canada. According to the Conference Board of Canada, immigrants account for 23 per cent of Giller Prize finalists and 29 per cent of winners. They also make up 23 percent of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards.

The importance of immigration to Canada has not gone unnoticed. The federal government of Canada has committed $440 million for immigration increase over the next 3 years. The plan calls for a gradual increase in immigration levels, from an overall admissions target of 310 000 in 2018 to 340 000 in 2020.

There are various reasons for a country to allow – and even encourage to some extent – immigration. In Canada, the shortage of skilled professionals, economic growth, and an aging population are only some of the reasons why Canada needs immigrants.


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