The emergence of the Syrian refugee crisis has caused considerable debate among Canadians over Canada’s refugee intake levels. While a majority of Canadians believe that Canada is currently admitting an appropriate number of refugees, several important demographic trends within Canada show that it may soon become necessary for the Canadian government to increase the overall number of immigrants and refugees that it allows into the country each year.
Those who believe that Canada should not increase its immigrant and refugee intake levels may be surprised to learn that Canada has accepted more or less the same number of immigrants per year since the 1990s. In the 1990’s, annual immigrant intake averaged 220,000, while in the first decade of the 21st century, average annual intake increased very slightly to 240,000. In fact Canada accepted fewer immigrants in 2015 than it did in 2014. These average intake rates have resulted in new immigrants making up a mere 0.7% of the Canadian population.
These relatively static intake rates become concerning when considered alongside other domestic demographic trends in Canada. Amongst Canadians, senior citizens are on pace to soon outnumbering working-age citizens over the next few decades. This will result in substantial labour shortages in many industries and a corresponding reduction in tax revenue for the Canadian government. Birth rates amongst Canadians are not high enough to solve this problem and, thus, it stands to reason that one way to increase the number of working-agee residents in Canada would be to carefully select more immigrants.
Despite the fact that an increased immigration intake would appear to provide a partial solution to Canada’s demographic challenges the Canadian government has barely increased immigration acceptance rates since the 1990s. Notwithstanding these trends, only 10% of Canadians believe that Canada is taking in too few immigrants while 25% of Canadians believe that Canada is taking in too many immigrants. Given the narrowing gap between senior citizens and working-age citizens in Canada the Trudeau government would be wise to change current policies by increasing future immigration intake levels.
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