Happy days are here again and they’re sunny too

Pradip Rodrigues

After almost a decade of Conservative rule, Canadian voters signaled it was time for change. There is a sense of euphoria in the air and the millions of Canadians coast to coast who voted Liberalsunny are really hoping for genuine change. It was an anti-incumbency factor at work for sure, and one wonders if the Conservatives would’ve fared any better had Prime Minister Stephen Harper stepped down and anointed another leader in this election. He seemed to be the lightening rod for all that went wrong. Infact many die-hard Conservative voters voted the other way simply because they dislike PM Harper’s hawkish policies.
But all that is water under the bridge. After the euphoria wears out, Canadians will find out very quickly that their lives and fortunes won’t improve dramatically. Because whichever government it was that won will be hampered by factors beyond their control, like oil prices, the slowdown in China and upheavals around the world.

The long road ahead

Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau has sobering challenges ahead. And one can genuinely hope that the gamble of spending massively on infrastructural projects yields dividends. After all getting into deficit in order to spur on job growth and get the economy moving is risky. To put things in perspective, healthcare costs are growing three times faster than the economy. Housing and the real estate prices in cities like Toronto and Vancouver are outpacing incomes and only this week yet again, ratings agency Moody’s and magazine The Economist sounded the alarm about rising consumer debt loads in Canada and some housing markets that are significantly overvalued. The Economist estimates Canadian housing prices are 34 per cent overvalued against average disposable incomes. The unemployment rate stands at just over 7 per cent, creating jobs and getting infrastructure projects started takes a while and voters should
be patient. No Canadian PM regardless of the party can ever change the reality overnight, notwithstanding the claims made during electioneering.
In another gloomy announcement, TD Bank will layoff hundreds of employees as they restructure and cut costs given market realities- softening demand for loans, super low interest rates and weak oil prices. Other banks are also sure to follow suit. So the next four years are crucial as a lot depends upon how the Liberals steer the economy.

Immigration changes on the way

On a happier note though, many South Asians are thrilled at the prospect of bringing in their senior parents to live with them. One wonders about the fate of Super Visa, a large section of South Asians naturally prefer sponsoring their aged parents here as that would help them with baby-sitting, health care is thrown in along with pension. The Liberals have made it a priority to expedite the processing times for family immigration and double the applications for parents and grandparents to 10,000 a year. Ofcourse many South Asians and Chinese in particular will find that number very inadequate. For those worried about the burden more seniors would be on our healthcare services should remember that the Liberals have promised to invest heavily into healthcare which could mean more openings for doctors, medical staff and hopefully a few more hospitals.
Immigration lawyers are pretty thrilled about their own business prospects which have taken a beating all these years by Conservatives, who’ve put many of them out of business. And by early next year, 25,000 Syrian refugees could be in the country, so social service organizations and other NGOs that have had their funding shrunk over the years will now find the opposite happening as they will have to expand their services and even hire more staff.
Hundreds of Canadians who get married to partners living in another country will heave a sigh of relief as now spouses immigrating to Canada will receive immediate permanent residency, getting rid of the current two-year waiting period which was put in place to deter fraudulent marriages which Conservatives insisted were pretty rampant among some immigrant groups.

Infrastructure in cities

Mayors in cities like Brampton and Mississauga that require massive funding for infrastructural needs will find this Liberal government more receptive.
While the Conservatives cut back on programs and services they deemed to be unnecessary and wasteful, the Liberals are poised to bring them back.
Investing in infrastructure could no doubt create thousands of jobs in the construction industry. Bringing in more immigrants and making it easier for foreign students to become permanent residents may also end up spurring on the housing market.
In the short term, pumping money into the economy to spur economic growth will help but in the long term, oil prices need to come back to a respectable level. There needs to be more companies re-locating to Canada, more private investment that will create plentiful jobs. And ofcourse all that depends upon economic and political events that occur outside of Canada’s boundaries.
Bill-51 will in part be repealed in the months to come, so will parts of Bill C-24. So many recent immigrants who feared they’d become second class Canadian citizens will now feel first class. So naturally if you see new Canadians walking tall with their chests swollen with pride you know why. It doesn’t matter if they are employed or underemployed. That too will be fixed in a matter of time.

Pradip Rodrigues started out as a journalist at Society magazine, part of the Magna Group in Mumbai. He wrote extensively on a variety of subjects. He later moved to the Times of India where he was instrumental in starting the now defunct E-times, a television magazine. He conceptualized Bombay Times and became its first assistant editor where he handled features and page three. Since coming to Canada in 2000, he has freelanced for newspapers and magazines in India and written autobiographies for seniors.

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