Among developed countries, Canada has one of the highest numbers of immigrant acceptance. Hundreds of thousands of people move to the country as permanent residents every year. So, why does Canada accept so many immigrants?
Canada accepts so many immigrants because it needs them. Its low birth rate, labour shortage, and landmass with sparse population make it necessary to admit residents from other countries. This benefits the country as immigrants contribute to its economy, healthcare workforce, and aid diversity.
Canada has a long history of accepting immigrants, which may continue for the foreseeable future. However, Canada’s acceptance of immigrants isn’t simply out of goodwill. Its selection process ensures only the best from other countries get to be residents in Canada. Here, we discuss why Canada accepts immigrants and how immigrants help the country.
Why does Canada need Immigrants?
Canada is one of the most immigrant-friendly countries globally, with over 8 million foreign-born residents. It has different immigration programs for temporary and permanent residents coming into the country, and the pathway to citizenship is straightforward. While all these policies are laudable, Canada adopts them mainly because it also needs immigrants. The stringent requirements that immigrants have to meet before they can move to the country make many think that Canada doesn’t need immigrants. In reality, the government is only selective of the immigrants it needs. Several factors make the country immigrant-friendly. They include:
1. Low birth rate and population decline
The low birth rate in Canada is a significant reason for the country’s immigration policies. There are not enough births in the country to keep the population steady. This makes immigration necessary to avoid population decline. At present, the aging population of native-born Canadians is increasing.
2. Labour shortage
The effects of low birth rates and population decline usually show gaps in the workforce. Without immigrants, Canada will not be able to fill these labour gaps, resulting in lower productivity. Lower productivity will affect the economy of the country. Today, the most prosperous provinces in Canada are usually the most populated and productive. This shows how vital population can be to the economy.
Another possible reason for Canada’s acceptance of immigrants is its large landmass. Canada is the second-largest country in landmass but has less than 40 million residents. This makes it one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Immigration allows the country to increase its population density, especially for less populated provinces and territories. This is why there are provincial and territorial immigration programs that allow each province or territory to accept a certain number of people annually. But the harsh weather conditions in most parts of the country and the imbalance in economic fortunes means immigrants end up moving to overpopulated provinces.
How immigrants contribute to Canada’s Development
Immigration has a lot of positive effects on the country. The Canadian immigration system already makes it almost impossible for any immigrant who won’t contribute to the growth and development of the country from gaining entry. Here are some of the ways immigrants contribute to Canada
The Canadian economy is one the strongest in the world. Immigrants play a significant role in sustaining that economy. The contribution of immigrants starts from their participation in the Labour force. Without immigrants, businesses in Canada will face a massive Labour shortage. Such Labour shortages would typically mean a drop in productivity. But with skilled immigrants, Canada can fill these gaps.
Canada’s requirements for immigrants mean it’s mostly young, highly skilled people that move to the country. These immigrants provide a large pool of qualified jobseekers for Canadian employers. This benefits the country as it doesn’t have to spend its resources training these highly skilled workers. Entering the labor market also means that immigrants in Canada pay taxes needed to run the country and fund social programs.
Beyond paying taxes and contributing to the Labour force, the young and skilled immigrants also spend what they earn within the system. This spending is part of what sustains the economy. Without that, what’s left is an aging population that receives more than it gives. It’s not only what immigrants earn in Canada that they spend in the country. The immigration process requires proof of funds, which is the amount an immigrant must have before migrating. This means that most immigrants have to spend the money brought from their country for the first few months in Canada.
2. Integration and Diversity
Canada is a very diverse country today because of its immigration policies. With thousands of people coming from every corner of the world, it has become a melting pot for different cultures. Most of those who come into the country end up integrating. Immigrants don’t just settle in big cities. The small and midsize towns in the country also receive immigrants. This helps minority communities in the country to thrive and have a sense of belonging to Canada. About 85% of immigrants end up becoming residents in the country.
3. Healthcare and Social Service Workforce
The importance of immigrants in Canada is noticeable in some occupations more than others. Healthcare is one area where Canada has come to depend on immigrants. Many praise the healthcare system in Canada as being of the best in the world in terms of quality and cost. But immigration plays a significant role in making this system functional. The healthcare system in the country is very much dependent on immigrants. More than 335,000 immigrants worked in health-related professions back in 2016. By now, the number of immigrants filling vital positions in the healthcare system would have increased. Immigrants who arrived in Canada as adults make up 22% of the nursing and healthcare aide occupations as of 2016. Interestingly, most immigrants with a foreign nursing degree are overqualified for their role compared to those who got their degree in Canada.
Canada accepts so many immigrants because it needs them. The country suffers from a population decline, which would affect its economy if there were no immigrants. Thus, while immigrants enjoy some benefits for moving, they also contribute significantly to its development.