Alberta’s economy may be struggling, but key stakeholders there are still heavily in favour of increased immigration.
That was the key message Immigration Minister John McCallum took away from a series of meetings in the oil-reliant province.
McCallum is setting a pro-immigration agenda ahead of Liberal government changes to Canada’s system, due to be announced in the fall.
He has been touring the country holding meetings to garner opinion and spread the word about how he intends to change the immigration system.
He expected a difference of opinion between Alberta and the other provinces and territories on economic grounds, but that was not what happened.
ANIP Semi-Skilled Worker Category
- Applicant must possess the qualifications necessary for a job offer in one of:
- Food and Beverage
- Trucking, transportation
- Food services
- Applicant must be currently working in Alberta on a work permit for an eligible occupation in one of the above fields.
- Applicant must have completed at least a high school level of education.
- Applicant must meet minimum language requirements.
- Additional criteria apply for specific industries.
“I was interested to hold these in Alberta because, as you know, Alberta’s economy is not in the greatest shape,” McCallum said at a meeting in Calgary.
“So I was interested to hear what people’s attitudes would be towards immigration. I can tell you there’s a strong consensus that they are in favour of more immigrants, not less immigrants.”
Canada’s aging population is predicted to create a growing gap in the labour force over the coming years, and the Liberal government believes increased immigration is the answer.
The issue is that more rural areas of Canada are set to be the places with the biggest shortages, while immigrants prefer to settle in the larger cities, mainly Vancouver and Toronto.
McCallum is considering ways the federal government can help encourage immigrants to disperse across the country, although it appears there is little to be done under the law. Permanent residents have the right to free movement as part of the Canadian constitution.
Given the need to rely on immigration as a tool to meet growing demographic challenges, policy makers in Atlantic Canada and elsewhere must consider the carrot approach.
The immigration tools are in place. They just need to be complemented with input from a much wider range of stakeholders to create the right conditions for immigrants to remain by choice.
Some possible policies include:
- Short term provincial tax credits for new residents.
- Offer residential land purchases in outlying areas at below market prices.
- Conditional property tax exemptions.
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