Canada’s immigration policy is still based on the colonial notion that immigration was necessary to build the country up to a viable size. 150 years ago that was true.
But it is 2016 and Canada now faces the same realities that countries, which were immigrant sources in the 18th and 19th centuries, once did. In those cases, a declining resource base and a growing population forced waves of emigrants to leave their homes. Our situation is not remotely as dire but the trend is the same.
Canada has matured and currently over-exploits many of its resources. The simple grow-forever ethic of the past no longer applies.
What is different in the 21st century?
- environmental decline
- diminished resources
- climate change
- entrenched high unemployment
- growing inequality
- massive and crowded cities
The policies of the 19th century are completely out of step with our changing reality. Maintaining a large pool of working poor, while paving over our best agricultural lands were once looked upon as unavoidable costs of growth during our adolescent past. But the mounting collateral damage of simple growth is no longer acceptable in a time when sustainability and social progress are national goals.
A modern society preserves its environmental assets and develops it’s people. Exactly the reverse of a growth-oriented society.
No nation can pursue a growth-forever policy. Canada must change from following that colonial mantra to establishing the more advanced and responsible policies of a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable nation.
IMMIGRATION MYTH 1
Society will collapse if the population stops growing.
Exactly wrong. When a population grows beyond the capacity of its environment to support it, the society declines and the population eventually collapses. Only Ponzi schemes collapse in a stable society. The grow-or- die sector of the economy will have to adjust but the real productive sectors will only benefit from higher per capita incomes and lower taxes
IMMIGRATION MYTH 2
Canada should take in all of the worlds’ excess population.
Canada’s population would triple in one year. Toronto’s population would expand to over 20 million people in that year and to 40 million the next year. We would become a net food importer within four weeks of the start of the influx. Discussion of environmental issue would be rather moot as social issues would be in constant crisis. That intake would be 200,000+ immigrants per day.
IMMIGRATION MYTH 3
Canada has lots of space to accommodate more people.
Confusing space with resources is fairly common but space does not equal resources. Check the population levels of the Sahara desert and the Antarctic sub-continent:. Population levels are very low for a reason. Virtually no resource base in Canada is being used below its sustainable level except its human resources.
IMMIGRATION MYTH 4
High levels of immigration are required to ensure Canada’s prosperity.
The growth lobby always attempts to make the terms “prosperity” and “growth” interchangeable. They aren’t.
Prosperity is based on per capita incomes, low unemployment and a high quality of life. A country’s prosperity does not depend on a growing population or workforce. Our prosperity depends rather on sound economic policies that stimulate productivity which means investing in our people and maintain a high level of resources per capita. Mass immigration causes productivity to stagnate and reduces resources per capita.
IMMIGRATION MYTH 5
Canada is sparsely populated and can support a much larger population.
Despite Canada’s large surface area, much of it is not suited for human habitation. It would require a large input of food and energy for any significant number of people to live in northern latitudes and this would have high economic and environmental costs.
A large majority of recent immigrants have chosen to live in large cities, most notably Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, because of the wider range of social services, the higher quality of life, economic opportunities and the presence of relatives and immigrant communities in these locations.
This does not result in net benefits for most of the residents of these large cities and increases pressure on educational and health care facilities as well as adds to housing costs, commute times and environmental problems.
IMMIGRATION MYTH 6
Canada needs large numbers of immigrants because it will face massive shortages of skilled labour in the coming decades.
There will be no such shortages if more Canadians acquire the needed skills. This can be accomplished if wages, government policies and other conditions encourage them to do so.
IMMIGRATION MYTH 7
We need immigrants to do the jobs Canadians won’t do.
Sufficiently high wages will induce Canadians to fill all jobs needed in the economy. The increased use of capital and new technologies induced by higher wages will raise workers’ productivity enough so that employers can afford to pay the higher wages. The filling of these jobs by immigrants freezes productivity and prevents such pay increases, which in turn causes more Canadians to live in poverty than would otherwise have been the case.
Cheap labour inflow short circuits the natural upward trend in productivity and wages.
IMMIGRATION MYTH 8
Immigration expands the economy.
This is actually true. And it is good business for the immigration lobby but not so for the rest of us.
Having a large and expanding body of working poor allocating an ever higher percentage of their incomes to housing and energy costs while living in more congested urban areas is good business for developers, media corporations and cheap labour employers but bad for the vast majority of Canadians. A bigger economy means nothing. A better economy with higher per capita incomes means everything to a healthy society.
IMMIGRATION MYTH 9
Immigrants contribute taxes.
While immigrants do pay taxes, on a net basis they consume about $20 billion annually more in government services than they pay in taxes. This does not include the structural deficit impacts of the lowering of wage rates in Canada driven by importing cheap labour and foreign replacement workers.
IMMIGRATION MYTH 10
Immigration is a rights issue. There is no such thing as an illegal person.
People can do illegal things including being where they are not allowed to be. Opening a country’s borders to anyone who wants to come in would completely undercut the ability of governments to maintain any sort of social order. The disintegration of the social safety net, and skyrocketing crime would only be the start for an open-border society. Many criminal and exploitive interests would thrive but the people, their institutions, their culture and their environment would collapse.
Immigration must be an operational policy integrated with a country’s national interest.
IMMIGRATION MYTH 11
We have to keep immigration high so we can grow forever.
Growth-forever is a guarantee of environmental and societal collapse. Check the track record of every major society in human history. It’s an old idea and has proven to be a very wrong one.
IMMIGRATION MYTH 12
Immigration allows us to avoid paying for our own youth to be educated while we take in highly skilled immigrants for free.
If there is any morality in that mentality, it is hard to find. Any nation should have education of its youth as a top priority. In addition, siphoning off the well-educated from other nations is essentially theft.
Taking a doctor from India to avoid the cost of educating a Canadian is more than a dollars and cents issue. The doctor-patient ratio in Canada is about 3 times higher than it is in India and many developing countries. Taking a doctor out of those countries effectively withdraws medical service from people who can least afford it.
Avoiding educating our own young people to their fullest potential itself borders on the criminal.
IMMIGRATION MYTH 13
Immigrants are more highly skilled.
Only 17% of the immigrant stream qualifies as skilled. In addition, a large percentage do not get jobs in the fields for which they were trained effectively reducing the “skilled percentage” to under 10%. Immigration policy in Canada has nothing to do with productivity improvement and citizen well-being but everything to do with subsidizing cheap labour employers and subsidizing market expansion for the “growth lobby”.
IMMIGRATION MYTH 14
We need a large immigrant stream to delay the effects of an aging population.
The immigrant stream is very close to our own in terms of age structure. It has a minimal impact on the aging trend which is inevitable anyway. A massive and ever-increasing stream of immigration would be necessary to freeze our age structure at the current level.
The only practical approach to aging is to learn from other nations who are well ahead of us and to implement progressive changes to adapt to this necessary and unavoidable trend.
IMMIGRATION MYTH 15
Canada’s population will collapse immediately without high immigration.
With 0 net immigration, Canada’s population will grow for the next 20 years with the current level of fertility and increase moderately for decades with a fertility rate of 2.1. It will then gradually decline to around today’s level in the year 2100.