NELSON: Canada needs more immigrants to fill jobs
FACE TO FACE: Should Canada increase or decrease immigration?
Have you had this discussion about immigration?
First comes the disclaimer: “Well, of course I’m all in favour of immigration…”
Then comes the “but”: “I just wish more of ‘them’ tried to accept our Canadian ways.”
There usually follows some discussion of Pierre Trudeau, multiculturalism and how a melting pot might be a better idea than a mosaic.
Looking past immigration racism, however, even the most cursory examination of Canadian immigration tells us that Canada, and especially B.C., needs more immigrants. We should want and welcome immigrants, and we should increase their number.
Why? First, because we can.
People all over the world suffer daily from political tyranny and/or racial, gender or cultural abuse. We have an international responsibility to help and we have the space. Canada is the second largest country in the world with the lowest population density in the civilized world: three people per square kilometre. Sure, most of us live close to the border but surely we have some room to grow?
Second, we get a remarkable quality of immigrant to Canada. Besides the odd boatload of beleaguered Tamil refugees about whom we get lathered, 54% of immigrants to Canada have a university degree — more than double the rate of Canadian-born citizens. Not bad.
And lest someone trot out the “but they’re taking our jobs” argument, 20% of Canadian immigrants are employed at a level below their qualification — so Canadians are actually taking their jobs.
Immigrants to Canada currently account for 67% of our population growth and by 2061, they will account for 100% of population growth. This is due to Canada’s low birth rate — the lowest since the 1930s.
But let’s get a little more local. B.C.’s birth rate is the lowest in Canada at 1.4 births per woman. A birth rate of 2.0 births is required for natural population replacement.
In B.C., the president of SFU estimates we will be short one million skilled workers within the next three years, 75% of whom will require post-secondary degrees. The president of BCIT says that within a decade, 18,800 skilled jobs could go unfilled.
It’s clear that immigration to Canada and especially to B.C. is the only thing that will help save our economic bacon.
There are no ifs, ands or buts about it.
Face to Face columnist Jim Nelson is a retired Tri-City teacher and principal who lives in Port Moody. He has contributed a number of columns on education-related issues to The Tri-City News.