Report Outlines What Canada Can Do For Investor Immigrants

May 5, 2017

By Forbes |

Recently the Conference Board of Canada published a new report on the state of investor immigration in that country.If you are unfamiliar with the Conference Board of Canada, it is the foremost independent, evidence-based, not-for-profit applied research organization in Canada and is affiliated with a counterpart Conference Board in New York. Kareem El-Assal is an immigration researcher at the Board and often speaks for it on immigration matters. I interviewed him about the new report following up on a national conference that was held not long ago in Toronto under the title Entrepreneur and Investor Immigration: Creating Jobs and Growth.

Semotiuk: What three outcomes would you say were the most important from the conference that you held?

El-Assal: Despite the many difficulties Canada has experienced since it launched its business immigration programs in 1978, it is more than capable of succeeding in this field. Canada needs immigrants, has 40 years of business immigration experience, and business immigrants want to come here. It’s a match made in heaven.

Secondly, Canada can enhance its efforts to attract innovative immigrant entrepreneurs by making the private sector’s job easier. The federal Start-up Visa pilot program is promising, but its uptake remains extremely low since launching in April 2013 because the private sector is responsible for vetting applicants, and has little time to do so. One idea proposed in our report is for the federal government to create an application management system, similar to Express Entry, where applicant information would be collected in a one-stop portal for the private sector to review.

Thirdly, when it is well-executed, immigrant investor programs can raise capital for under-funded areas such as infrastructure, affordable housing, and venture capital. However, given historically low interest rates, which have limited the economic impact of the old federal program and ongoing Quebec Immigrant Investor Program, Canada would need to re-think the investment requirements of a potential new federal program. Further, key to the new program’s success would be rigorous oversight and monitoring to ensure it benefits the economy and gains public traction.

Semotiuk: Compared to other countries competing with Canada for investors and entrepreneurs, what would you say are the key strengths Canada has to offer?

El-Assal: One of Canada’s greatest global competitive advantages is its openness to newcomers. As others are closing their doors to immigrants, Canada’s doors remain wide open. Due to Canada’s high quality of life, including its economic opportunities, prospective business immigrants view Canada with a keen eye. Now is our time to act.

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