The B.C. Government’s recent announcement of a new immigration task force shows how out of touch it is amid high unemployment rates.
The B.C. government proudly announced that Premier Christy Clark’s newly appointed immigration task force began work with its first consultation Jan. 12, meeting with stakeholders and industry experts. The 10-member task force, which has not a single First Nations representative, will make recommendations on how to bring in more “skilled immigrants and investors” to the province.
With Canada’s unemployment rate at its highest in 9 months at 7.6 per cent, one wonders if Premier Clark should have come up with a task force to look at the benefits of restricting immigration to a trickle, at least until the economy picks up and high unemployment rates among First Nations (over 16 per cent in 2010 in B.C.) and young people (14 per cent across Canada) are addressed appropriately. Why not focus on putting young people and First Nations to work first? The province could expand inter-provincial partnerships to transfer Canadians to other provinces experiencing labour shortages, for example.
Why does the B.C. government see the need to enhance immigration rates, which average a high 250,000 new people every year coming into the country? Additionally, the Canadian government allows in about 180,000 foreign temporary workers, presenting even more competition for Canadian youth and Aboriginals. Incidentally, Canada Census numbers this week show immigrants and newcomers driving population growth in the country. Population projections suggest immigration will make up 80 per cent of Canada’s population by 2031. Census Canada statistics count 33.5 million people now living in Canada, an increase of 5.9 per cent from the 2006 census, the highest growth rate among G8 nations. But how this immigrant-driven growth will affect everybody else is an important question. Statistically, immigrants make substantially less than native-born Canadians and use up more social services than they pay in taxes. The BC Government apparently wants to remedy this, but there are only so many resources, so many jobs to go around.
The B.C. Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, and Innovation says it expects immigrants will be needed to fill about one-third of the one million jobs expected to open up in B.C. by the end of the decade in order to meet labour market needs and continue to fuel economic growth. These are rather optimistic numbers given the current economic situation. And it’s difficult to see how the current population couldn’t fill these jobs.
The economic rationales for loose immigration policies were largely filled at the turn of the last century with mass European immigration and filled the demographic gaps in the ‘50s and 60’s. The B.C. government’s economic rationale today makes little sense. Even if the heart of the immigration matter for the government is social or humanitarian, there needs to be open debate on the matter with all Canadians, and immigration reform needs to be looked at for the purpose of enhancing the standard of living and quality of life for Canadians first.