Canada`s immigration policy makers are wrong to assume foreigners want to come here for economic gain, according to the authors of a new study.
Wealthy Chinese immigrants do not come to Canada with the aim of making more money, but for better housing and improved quality of life for their families.
That is the conclusion of the University of British Columbia study, which found immigrants often did lower-paying jobs or did not work at all, at least in the early stages of their arrival in Canada.
Now the authors are calling on policy makers to change how they think about the goals of immigrants who are coming to Canada.
The authors, sociology professor Nathanael Lauster and PhD student Jing Zhao, interviewed 31 candidates at various stages of the immigration process, all moving from Beijing to Vancouver.
These Chinese immigrants are blamed for driving up house prices in the westernmost city, the reason behind a recently-introduced 15 per cent foreign buyer tax.
The authors found that on arrival, the immigrants were more focused on spending more time with their families, settling their children into schools and developing a routine based around the home, all things they often did not get to do in their home country.
Often newcomers look for jobs only after they are settled, and only then as a means to meet people in their communities and fully integrate into Canadian life.
Some of the immigrants in the study took jobs in supermarkets or malls despite doing relatively high-paid jobs back in China.
Although based on a limited sample group, the study offers an alternate view to the belief that skilled workers are what Canada needs to plug the gap in the labour force caused by an aging population.
The study suggests that skilled workers are more often from richer families – making them less likely to need to go out and work to make a living as soon as they arrive.
Instead, policy makers would be better off bringing in more refugees and less wealthy candidates, who are likely to be looking to enter the workforce as soon as possible upon arrival in Canada.
Immigration Minister John McCallum is expected to unveil a raft of changes to the Canadian system in the fall, with a faster process for bringing in technology talent likely to be among the planned changes.
Both McCallum and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have visited China in the past month, aiming to increase ties with the Asian nation.
The authors of this study believe the federal government would have more success by focusing less on qualifications and more on bringing in immigrants who are in search of economic prosperity.
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