Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada’s immigration policies are giving it a big advantage over the United States when it comes to attracting business.
“We’re a country that’s open to immigration right now,” he said earlier this week, on the eve of the November 6 U.S. mid-term elections. “Being able to get the top talent and draw on big pools of well-educated, ambitious, forward-thinking and diverse [people] is a hell of a competitive advantage that I don’t see the U.S. matching anytime soon.”
Trudeau made the remarks in an appearance at the Fortune Most Powerful Women International Summit in Montreal, which brought together women CEOs, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and senior representatives of the Canadian government.
Trudeau said Canadians are “positively inclined” toward immigration and said they know from Canada’s experience over generations and centuries that immigrants have “created our success.”
“We are able to take in almost one per cent of our population every year in immigration — a little over 300,000 — and we’re able to do that because it’s a system that Canadians have confidence in; it’s rules-based, it’s controlled,” he said.
Last week, Trudeau’s Liberal government unveiled its new immigration levels plan, which will see admissions of new permanent residents through Canada’s economic, family and refugee / humanitarian programs reach nearly one per cent of Canada’s population in 2021.
Of the 350,000 immigrants that Canada is planning to welcome that year, nearly 60 per cent will arrive through Canada’s economic immigration programs. A majority of economic immigrants are slated to arrive through Canada’s Federal High Skilled immigration programs and its Provincial Nominee Program.
Trudeau’s remarks were echoed this week by David Bier, an immigration policy analyst with the Cato Institute’s Centre for Global Liberty and Prosperity in Washington.
Bier said Canada’s new immigration levels plan will put the U.S. at an even greater disadvantage if immigration rates there remain as they are or are even reduced.
In 2017, the U.S. immigration rate of 0.3 per cent paled compared to Canada’s rate of just over 0.8 per cent.
In terms of economic immigration, Canada’s rate was 11 times higher than that of the U.S. in 2017, Bier noted — a gap that Canada’s immigration levels plan threatens to widen.
“If the U.S. rate remains as steady as it has, America will fall further behind in the international competition for labour,” he said.
Republican proposals to reduce legal immigration “would harm economic growth and make America less competitive economically,” Bier wrote.
In a talk last month, Canada’s Minister of Science, Innovation and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, described his government’s immigration policies as a key element of Canada’s “value proposition,” especially in the current geopolitical climate.
“Immigration policies really differentiate [Canada],” Bains said. “When you’re seeing the rise of anti-immigrant sentiments, populist politics, nationalism, and our brand in Canada is that we’re open — open to trade, open to investment, open to people — that brand, that openness is so critical.”
Canada’s updated immigration levels plan calls for welcoming 310,000 new permanent residents this year, a number that will rise to 330,800 in 2019, 341,000 in 2020 and hit 350,000 in 2021.
Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, said the plan will provide vital support for Canada’s economy, which is facing widespread labour shortages as the Canadian population ages and a rising number of workers retire.
“Growing immigration levels, particularly in the Economic Class, will help us sustain our labour force, support economic growth and spur innovation,” he said.
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