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Canada Becoming the More Attractive North American Immigration Destination

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“Politics, health care, social issues, and possibly even the strengthening of the Canadian dollar” are being cited by the Association of Canadian Studies as reasons why more and more Americans are choosing to immigrate to Canada. Also, an increasing number of Mexicans are deciding to bypass the United States as an immigration destination, heading to Canada instead.

The number of Americans immigrating to Canada and is at its highest point in thirty years, having nearly doubled since 2000. Such rates of immigration to Canada from the U.S. have not been seen since the 1970’s when the United States was suffering from political turmoil. Though the recent data does not indicate any particular reasons for Canada’s renewed popularity among Americans, the director of the study suggests “the economic downturn in the United States as a top possibility, followed by social and political considerations.” With increasing numbers of highly educated skilled workers arriving from the U.S. and a sharp decrease in the number of Canadians heading south of the border, the Canadian ‘brain drain’ phenomenon is shrinking. Half of Canadian newcomers from the U.S. have obtained a bachelor’s degree or better and are coming to Canada under the skilled worker category of immigration.

On another note, as American immigration officials are tightening regulations on Mexicans in the United States, the Canadian government is encouraging increased immigration from Mexico. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon to discuss increased labour mobility between the countries to deal with chronic labour shortages in Canada. Mexican migration to Canada has been soaring since the mid 1990’s due to the easing of entrance requirements brought about by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Between 1991 and 2001, Canada’s number of permanent and temporary residents from Mexico nearly doubled to almost 43,000. Though the focus of a possible new labour mobility agreement would be on temporary workers, the number of Mexicans arriving in Canada under the skilled worker category of immigration is on the rise as well. Additionally, the number of Mexicans studying in Canada has been steadily increasing.

The leaders of Canada, the United States, and Mexico recently convened to discuss measures to strengthen ties within North America and build upon the existing NAFTA framework. Developing compatible immigration measures was discussed as a means to facilitate increasing labour mobility across borders. NAFTA has facilitated the flow of certain skilled professionals across borders to fulfill temporary job positions.

A recent poll stated that 92 per cent of Americans have a favourable view of Canada, ranking it at the top of a list of 25 countries. As immigration data demonstrates that many Americans see Canada as a more attractive place to live, and many Mexicans see Canada as a more attractive immigration destination than the United States, Canada is in a good position to welcome a great deal of immigrants from its neighbouring countries.