First generation immigrants will always face challenges when arriving in Canada, but their children and their children’s children will be ‘seamlessly’ integrated into society, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The Liberal leader has called for patience from Canadians in welcoming new immigrants, saying suspicion of newcomers is nothing new, neither here of in other parts of the world.
“This country didn’t happen by accident,” Trudeau said during a Montreal panel discussion, when he sat alongside Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of London, UK.
“And it won’t continue without effort. When we think about integration and success we can’t be overly impatient.”
Trudeau pointed to Montreal’s Italian community as an example of his point.
He said the older Italian generation who first came to Canada still spoke very little English or French. But their children and grandchildren “are seamlessly and completely integrated into Montreal”, according to Trudeau, who added: “The only difference is they tend to be trilingual and not just bilingual.”
The evidence suggests Canadians would be well-advised to listen to the Prime Minister they elected in October 2015.
Statistics Canada data shows immigrant children perform better than their Canadian peers in both high school and university. Some 36 per cent of the children of immigrants graduate university, versus less than 25 per cent of Canadians.
Immigrants are also more likely to start their own businesses, according to the latest data available. A March 2016 Statistics Canada report entitled Immigration, Business Ownership and Employment in Canada concludes that ‘rates of private business ownership and unincorporated self-employment are higher among immigrants than among the Canadian-born population’.
Other statistics show Canada’s economic growth is becoming increasingly tied to immigrants as aging workers born in the country drop out of the labour force.
The percentage of immigrants in working-age population has been steadily increasing for the last decade as the Canada-born proportion drops, illustrating the need to make up for the shortfall by bringing in foreign workers.
In 2006 less than 20 per cent of the workforce – those aged 15 and over – were landed immigrants while more than 78 per cent were born in Canada.
But fast forward 10 years and the latest data shows an immigrant percentage just less than 24, while the Canada-born proportion has dropped almost as low as 74 per cent.
Trudeau’s Immigration Minister, John McCallum, is currently preparing to announce increased immigration levels for 2017 and beyond.
An increase in numbers is one of a raft of changes planned by McCallum, as the Liberals look to create a more streamlined, fit-for-purpose immigration system than the messy affair left behind by the previous Conservative government.
McCallum`s Immigration Plan
- The Liberals made family reunification a key element of their campaign for election, and McCallum is looking at ways to speed up the whole process of bringing in immediate family members.
- There are also plans to make it easier for international students to stay in Canada after they graduate. McCallum feels these young, Canadian qualified, Canadian experienced individuals are the perfect candidates to become new permanent residents.
- McCallum also plans to address the technology talent shortage in Canada by making it easier to bring in new immigrants with the right qualifications.
- Limitations on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program are set to be relaxed, with a report into the current state of the program expected to be released in September.
- McCallum has already given Atlantic Canada the freedom to bring in 2,000 more immigrants under Provincial Nominee Programs in 2017. These numbers could rise in 2018 and 2019 if the increase is seen as a success.
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