Note: On November 1 of each year, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration tables before Canada’s Parliament, projected admissions of immigrants to Canada, under all categories in the subsequent calendar year. The following is a letter from Canada immigration lawyer Colin R. Singer addressed to Renald Gilbert, Director of Immigration Policy & Programs in Ottawa, criticizing the effectiveness of current immigration levels as well as the inventories of permanent residence applications at missions abroad, in view of a Statistics Canada research paper which shows that 40% of immigrants admitted to Canada in the Economic Class do not reside in Canada.
I refer to our exchange of correspondence last year and your reply of February 11, 2005 referenced below. My initial message to you and your colleagues in the Department was that inventory levels for Canadian permanent residence applications should remain high (I suggested no less than 500,000 at any time) because a large number of newcomers to Canada do not reside in Canada and therefore the real effects of Canada’s annual admissions are not fully realized. Many newcomers leave Canada soon after becoming permanent residents; a number leave after a short period of residence. This conclusion was reached on the basis of our own informal assessment methods.
A new Statistics Canada research paper released on March 1, 2006, the first of its kind in Canada since 1994, confirms our previous position, – (http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/060301/d060301b.htm), and I believe is far more pronounced than your message of February 11, 2005 suggests. In effect, the estimated out migration rate in Canada, 20 years after arrival, is around 35% among young working age male immigrants with 60% of those who leave, do so within the first year of arrival.
I also pointed out to you that the current residence rules of 2 years in 5 years under IRPR would likely serve to maintain or probably even increase this demographic trend. Indeed, the above study was conducted largely on the basis of landings carried out under the pre IRPA rules and consequently the five year window would not yet have affected the majority of the landings used in this study.
Our position has long held that as annual immigration admissions do not take into consideration the number of arrivals who do not use their residency status, Canada has become an entrepot for a large, yet undocumented number, of individuals who obtain Canadian permanent residence and who return to their former country of residence soon after landing in Canada with their Canadian status intact. For many, Canadian status is a secondary option against having to return to a third world country in the event that their temporary working status in the United States or elsewhere is not renewed. For a significant number who leave within one or two years, the cultural challenges of adaptation to life in Canada are just too overwhelming (please see National Post Op Editorial – December 6, 2002 – Colin R. Singer).
In light of this recent study, it would appear that consideration must now be given to increasing annual target / Final Disposition levels for permanent residence applications at Canada’s missions abroad. Current target levels are in the range of 250,000 each year including 150,000 in the economic class. Naturally, this would require an increase in resources at missions abroad in order that each mission will be in a position to process more permanent residence cases to final disposition without negatively affecting its other functions. This approach would shorten processing delays somewhat for residence applications and would respond to your particular and valid concerns as outlined in your message of February 2005, outlining your concerns that longer processing times would be undesirable.
We believe that an inventory of 500,000 permanent residence applications could be achieved without changing the current pass mark of 67 points. This could be complemented by allocating the provinces with PNP programs, an increase in the number of immigrants, selected under such programs. It has been shown that the majority of selections by individual provinces effectively addresses the problem of critical labour shortages in affected industries, within a province.
We believe that increasing the overall numbers of admissions to Canada would not necessarily require substantially increased settlement infrastructure in light of the fact outlined in the study, that 40% of newcomers under the Economic Class, do not remain in Canada although it is acknowledged that settlement resources should be increased moderately to handle the increased numbers of assimilation cases that would result from an increase in annual admissions, on a net basis.
The above study also confirms that previous concerns by your Department to the effect that settlement infrastructure at present, cannot support an increase in annual admissions, is unfounded. The reality is that under the current dynamics of international mobility in which immigrants participate, a substantial number of admissions do not require settlement infrastructure because they do not permanently settle in Canada, at the early stages, or if ever.
It is also now clear from this study that the cost of Canada’s foray into the global immigration market is much higher and the immediate returns on this investment are much less than thought previously. Still, immigration and related policies must be modified to permit an increase in Canada’s annual admissions in order to increase the actual numbers of newcomers who will remain, permanently, and combat the problem of out migration highlighted by the above study. This is especially important in view of Canada’s rules on preserving Canadian residence – which are arguably among the world’s most liberal, and which policymakers surely understood would delay the benefit of Canada’s annual admissions.
We define this approach as improving the “Adhesion Factor”. This means that Canada’s immigration policies must now plan for higher levels of admissions to Canada, over current levels, in order to ensure that the intended numbers of admissions to Canada each year actually “stick” or “materialize” in light of the large percentage of those individuals who do not remain in Canada, as empirical data now confirms.
There is no alternative to this approach. Immigration in most OECD countries is the primary mechanism to combat a number of demographic developments rapidly occurring in all member countries including a population decline / aging population, a growing elderly dependency ratio, a shrinking labour force and a problem of brain drain. What is now clear is that the resources being allocated to attract newcomers must be increased in Canada. Most importantly, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration must re-visit and evaluate the trends that affect out migration. The effectiveness of Canada’s future immigration policy depends on this ongoing assessment.