Immigrant process should rely more on private sector needs, pre-arranged contracts: Report

Points system should be abandoned

Canada’s immigrant selection process should rely more on the employment needs of the private sector and pre-arranged contracts for work to ensure new immigrants will prosper and succeed economically, according to a report published today by the Fraser Institute.

Immigrants who arrived in Canada since 1986 have been less successful economically than those who arrived before that time, said Herbert Grubel, Fraser Institute senior fellow, in his study Canada’s Immigrant Selection Policies.

“Recent immigrants who arrived since 1986 earn less and pay less tax than they receive in benefits from government spending. As a result, they are costing Canadian taxpayers about $20 billion annually,” he said.

Canada selects the largest proportion of its immigrants using an objective points system that reflects the candidates’ education, work experience, language competence and other indicators that are linked with higher earnings.

Individuals selected on this basis are called “principal immigrants” who in 2011 numbered 64,397, representing 25.8 per cent of all 248,744 immigrants that year. The principal immigrants were accompanied by their dependants (spouses and underage children) numbering 91,724, said the Fraser Institute.

The government refers to the principal immigrants and their dependants as “economic immigrants” who in 2011 numbered 156,121 and represented 62.8 per cent of all immigrants admitted.

Canada also admits in smaller numbers asylum-seekers, family members of recent immigrants and other minor groupings. These basic characteristics of the selection system have been in place since the 1960s and remain unchanged.

To fully eliminate the current fiscal burden, the points system should be abandoned, said Grubel, and replaced with pre-arranged contracts for work in Canada as main selection criterion for economic immigrants.

“The government would continue to have important responsibilities under this selection system, such as setting a minimum level of pay to make job offers acceptable for the issuance of immigrant visas, enforcing regulations and ensuring that the health and security of Canadians are protected,” he said.

The current federal government has recognized these immigrants are not doing as well economically as those who arrived earlier, so it has made a start at reforming the immigration selection process, said Grubel, who is also an economics professor (emeritus) at Simon Fraser University .

“New policies introduced by the government such as more efficient selection processes, better information about candidate qualifications, speeding up the processing of refugee claims, reducing opportunities for fraud and increasing the financial responsibility of sponsors of parents and grandparents will reduce the burden those groups impose on government services,” he said.

“But the success will depend on enforcement of the new rules.”

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