There have been a number of media stories lately covering David Suzuki’s critical comments on Canada’s immigration system, and in particular, policies that have been put in place under our current government.
For those who may not know, David Suzuki is a pretty famous scientist and environmental leader. For many years he was the voice of the “Nature of Things” – an hour television show that covered a variety of scientific topics.
Recently, Dr. Suzuki made a number of public comments regarding our immigration rules. Two central themes were:
1) We are plundering southern countries by depriving them of future leaders.
2) We are increasing our population to increase economic growth.
In my view, I don’t think these criticisms hold much water in the face of some very important facts.
Direct immigration for skilled workers (presumably those are the future leaders to which Dr. Suzuki is referring) is based on the federal skilled worker program. That program is limited to experience in 24 listed occupations, with a cap of 300 applications in each occupation per year, and an annual cap of 5,000 applications in total.
Now, the top 4 countries from which we take immigrants are China, India, the Philippines and the United States. The total population of those countries combined is nearly 3 billion people. Even if all of our skilled immigrants came just from those 4 countries (which they don’t), there is no conceivable way that 5,000 skilled workers leaving for Canada would deprive those countries of future leadership.
Granted, there are other routes for skilled workers to enter Canada through gaining work experience here, but the same logic would apply. Relatively small numbers for migrants in the face of massive home country populations.
The harsh reality is that many (if not most) of the skilled worker immigrants are headed to Canada for a better life for themselves and their families. There is no opportunity for them to succeed and advance in their home country, let alone become a leader there. What if you were a member of a lower caste in India? Would you struggle to make a life for yourself there or jump at the chance to make it Canada?
Yes Dr. Suzuki would deny these individuals the right to determine their own destiny, and place on them the impossible burden of becoming leaders in their own country.
With regard to attracting immigrants to enhance economic growth, that is an absolutely crucial aspect of our immigration policies. The fact is Canadians are not replacing themselves with children. Our current replacement rate is an average of 1.5 children for every 2 people.
It doesn’t take a scientist to see that the economic growth of this country is in the hands of immigrants. A naturally shrinking population reduced the number of tax payers and increases their burden to pay for social services of an aging population. Our cherished lifestyle will deteriorate very quickly if we don’t strategically select immigrants to support our economic growth. The demographics are so stark that there is really no room for debate on this one.
Are there problems with our immigration system? Sure there are. But we shouldn’t be excluding people based on the arguments of Dr. Suzuki.