Canada needs to get its stalled immigration system back on track

September 10, 2020

By Globe and Mail |

The effects of COVID-19 on Canada’s economy can be measured in many ways. Some are obvious: millions unable to work, thousands of firms forced to close their doors, more than $250-billion in emergency government spending.

Less obvious, but of potentially greater significance to Canada’s long-term economic health, is the impact of the pandemic on immigration.

Canada’s ability to attract newcomers to its shores has long been one of this country’s greatest strengths and competitive advantages. Immigration enriches the social fabric of the nation while boosting the economy, helping to offset a low birth rate and an aging population.

Immigrants bring energy, skills, new ideas and entrepreneurial spirit. They start companies, fill skill shortages, buy houses and pay taxes.

It’s no exaggeration to say – as Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, declared in a speech to the Canadian Club of Toronto last Feb. 28 – that the future of Canada “hinges on immigration.”

The minister couldn’t have foreseen it at the time, but less than a month later Canada responded to the global pandemic by temporarily closing its borders to all non-essential foreign travellers.

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