Some economists want to increase immigration to about 400,000 per year. They say it will create jobs, but gloss over ethnic enclaves, the Toronto 18, and housing affordabiltiy. Pretty narrow terms of reference here, too narrow. Everythings has its good and bad effects. Taking in old sickly adults from the third world costs bucks. The technocrats prefer to ignore social-econ effects of govt policy, yet they cost money too. Don't we have large deficits?

Why not pay Canadian women money to have a third child? Scale down the immigration dept and use the money saved for a third child benefit. Let firms use the web to recruit staff they need. The web is global, right? Contract this out to the private sector.

By Douglas Todd 6 May 2011 COMMENTS(11) The Search
Filed under: Canada, multiculturalism, immigrants, Europe

Give three economists credit for trying to kickstart a real debate over immigration in Canada. They do so by imagining a "shock" scenario.

What would happen, they ask, if Canada brought in 100,000 more immigrants per year?

Canada already takes more immigrants per capita than any other nation.

But these analysts want Canadians to think about welcoming 350,000 newcomers a year, instead of the current 250,000.

They say immigration policy is a potential "tinderbox" which could turn into a Canadian cultural "inferno" if the numbers on it turn bad -for either native-born or newcomers.

The issue of immigration is especially volatile for big-city residents, since the vast majority of new arrivals funnel into urban centres. More than nine out of 10 immigrants to B.C., for instance, put down stakes in bustling Metro Vancouver.

However, as we just discovered during the Canadian election campaign, there is little high-level political stomach for an honest public debate over immigration.

We are far different from Europe. That's where the elected heads of Germany, France and Britain have, in just the past year, questioned immigration patterns. And all three have declared "multiculturalism" a failure.

In contrast, every major political party leader in the Canadian election campaign supported the country's welcoming approach to newcomers, which business leaders also endorse because it creates more consumers and more workers. (Photo right of Conservative Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.)

Given that almost half the residents of Vancouver and Toronto were born outside the country, many of society's leaders believe it's political and economic suicide to publicly question immigration rates.

At least these three academics, funded by various levels of government, do so -through a "meta-analysis" of hundreds of studies on the economic impact of immigration in Canada and beyond.

Although their "shock" scenario of 100,000 more immigrants is controversial, York University's Tony Fang and the University of Toronto's Peter Dungan and Morley Gunderson generally say immigration is an economic positive.

Indeed, the economists go further than most politicians.

Their news release boldly states 100,000 more immigrants per year would boost the gross domestic product and add to government coffers by stimulating buying and especially pumping up housing prices.

However, the body of the 34-page report -titled The Macroeconomic Impacts of Canadian Immigration: An Empirical Analysis Using the Focus Model - is less confident than the news release.

The scholars quietly admit in their paper that many of the hundreds of immigration studies they analyzed from around the world reached "mixed" conclusions on many fronts.

For instance, the report tentatively concludes that immigrants generally don't use taxpayer-funded social and health services more than "domestic-born" residents.

However, the authors concede immigrants, especially more recent ones, may more greatly rely on unemployment insurance the longer they are here.

And even though the news release makes it seem 100,000 more immigrants would benefit Canadian total GDP, the body of the analysis quietly acknowledges per capita GDP could slightly shrink.

Just as importantly, the authors acknowledge many new immigrants are feeling battered. More recent arrivals are having a "difficult time economically assimilating" and are "increasingly falling into poverty."

Other than on this last point, the scholars' "macroeconomic" analysis has a bloodless quality to it.

It feels removed from the real world in which Canadian-born and newcomers live and struggle.

Funded by government research bodies, the economists' meta-analysis fails to touch on a lot of issues Canadians care about a great deal.

One of them is integration. As in Europe, many Canadians fear ethnic enclaves are taking root in our major cities, where there is often little overlap of newcomers and native-born.

The economists also gloss over the emotional issue of housing affordability.

They applaud how immigration fuels housing prices, calling it a "benefit." But they fail to comment on how strong immigration is also killing the chances of average-income earners to own houses in most neighbourhoods of Toronto and Metro Vancouver.

Still, unlike many in Canadian officialdom, these three able economists are at least aware that a high-immigration policy is not, by definition, an indisputable good. They suggest it is a multi-pronged animal, with many spin-offs, good and bad.

Kudos to them for providing crucial data to start a debate. Now it's up to Canadian leaders and the public to take the discussion to a new level of openness.
Last edited by Andem; May 9th, 2011 at 04:38 PM..