In the past few months, economists have predicted a long stretch of slow economic growth in Canada. Currently Ontario’s unemployment rate sits at 6.4%, Alberta, hit by low oil prices is at 7.9% and the only thing holding up the country’s economic growth happens to be real estate which now accounts for half of the country’s economic growth. Against this backdrop, Immigration Minister, John McCallum says that cross-country consultations with Canadians show that most are in favor of boosting the overall number of immigrants coming to Canada.
Speaking with reporters following a cabinet meeting in Ottawa, McCallum summarized the results of his recent cross-country consultations on Canadian immigration.
“I have been hearing a lot of input, and all the hundreds of people I’ve spoken to across the country, most of them, almost all of them, have advocated [for] more immigrants, whether for demographic reasons or for job-shortage reasons,” said McCallum, who added that “we as a government will not decide our proposal until November.”
Mr. McCallum said he has received a “huge amount of input” on the topic of immigration over the summer months.
The government is scheduled to announce Canada’s new immigration targets in November, 2016, in the annual immigration levels plan. The previous plan, which was unveiled earlier this year, had the highest projected immigration level in decades, with an increase of about 20,000 in the total number of new permanent residents to be admitted year over year. This represented around a 7 percent increase on the 2015 plan.
Meanwhile in a recent Nanos/Globe and Mail poll, some 53 per cent of respondents said they were happy for immigration levels to stay the same or increase, while 39 per cent favored reduced levels.
Canada is already on target to welcome up to 305,000 new immigrants this year, the most in the modern era.
In Atlantic Canada, where the need for increased immigration is pronounced, less than 30 per cent said they prefer fewer immigrants in 2017. In the Prairies, currently struggling with the economic impact of lower oil prices, a whopping 48 per cent expressed a wish for fewer immigrants.
But there’s more, Immigration Minister John McCallum is planning to loosen restrictions on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program this fall, but only for those industries which are struggling to find staff.
Alberta beef processing centers and fish processing plants in the Atlantic provinces have had to operate at less than full capacity because Canadians are unwilling to work in many of the positions. Critics however say that if employers were willing to attract Canadian workers by offering attractive wages, many of the currently unemployed would have no reason to decline the offer. For employers it is often easier to bring in hardworking and highly motivated foreign workers who are hoping to transition into permanent residents. – CINEWS