How many immigrants should Canada allow in 2014?

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) wants your help in determining 2014 immigration levels.

They really do! At least that's what their website says:

We are seeking your feedback on immigration to Canada, specifically on the total number of new permanent residents Canada should welcome and how this overall total should be distributed among immigration categories. The consultation will explore a number of issues related to three main questions:

- What is the appropriate level of immigration for Canada, this year and beyond?

- What is the best ratio – or mix – between the number of economic immigrants, family class immigrants and the refugee/humanitarian class?

- Economic immigration is a key immigration goal for Canada’s long-term economic growth. What role can immigration play to support Canada’s economy?

You can add your voice to the discussion, here. The online consultations end on August 31.

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Regardless of whether CIC is serious about canvassing public opinion, the debate about immigration seems to be heating up.

On Thursday, the Fraser Institute added fuel to the proverbial fire, publishing a paper that concludes recent immigrants "impose a fiscal burden on Canadian taxpayers" of approximately $20 billion a year.

"This paper proposes that immigration of parents and grandparents be stopped completely," the report, written by economist and former Reform Party MP Herb Grubel, states.

"The paper also proposes that the current immigrant selection process, which relies heavily on political considerations, be replaced with one that relies primarily on the private sector and labour market conditions."

In other words, immigrants should be allowed into Canada primarily based on economic considerations.

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The other side of the argument is well-presented in a recent Toronto Star article written by Debbie Douglas of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants and Avvy Yao-Yao Go of the Metro Toronto Asian Legal Clinic.

For Canada as a country to succeed, we need immigrants of all backgrounds and skills to come here to build a permanent home. For immigrants to succeed, they need to have a sense of belonging that only comes about when their entire families are integrated into Canadian society.

Our government has an important role to play in helping immigrants successfully integrate. Policies and programs that deal with systemic discrimination faced by racialized immigrants in the labour market, and adequate funding for immigration settlement programs are measures that should be part and parcel of any rational immigration plan.

Finally, any discussion around our future immigration plan is incomplete if it does not also include a soul-searching exercise of who we are as a people, and the values we choose to embrace. If all that Canada is about is protecting our current economic interests, and the only use of immigrants is to further that goal, then we should just make that clear -- both to ourselves and to the people we are inviting to join us. But surely, there is more to Canada than our GDP index or the size of our treasury.

Should Canada be welcoming poor and oppressed immigrants looking for freedom and opportunity? Should we be uniting families?

Or should we covet the educated, the skilled, the rich and wealthy from other countries?

Let CIC know on their website but also let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Immigration to Canada in 2012:

Immigration Class No. of Permanent Residents %
Family Class 65,008 25.2%
Economic Immigrants 160,819 62.4%
Refugees 23,094 9.0%
Other 8,961 3.5%
TOTAL 257,882 100%

(Photo courtesy of CIC)

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