Immigration to Canada Drops by 25 Per Cent

Nicholas Keung, The Star, July 17, 2011

Canada let 25 per cent fewer immigrants into the country in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2010, raising concerns the Conservative government is embarking on a bold plan to restrict the country’s immigration levels.

The number of permanent resident visas issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada between January and March fell from 84,083 in 2010 to 63,224 this year, according to figures obtained by the Star.

The latest department numbers show a decline across the board, with visas for skilled workers down 28 per cent, family-sponsored relatives down 14 per cent, and refugees dropping by 25 per cent.

The significant drop in visas comes on the eve of public consultations Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is holding on the country’s immigration levels and classes of people that should be allowed in. The first meeting was held in Calgary last week, and another is scheduled in Toronto Wednesday.

“It’s a very sharp decline,” said Myer Siemiatycki, professor of politics and public administration at Ryerson University, referring to the visas granted. “It begs the question: What is going on here?

“Has the government decided on the outset that they want fewer admissions? Is the tap being closed tighter?”

In the months leading up to the May 2 federal election, the Conservatives touted 2010 as a banner year in immigration, welcoming 280,000 permanent residents, the highest in 50 years. In 2009, approximately 265,000 immigrants were granted permanent status.

Commenting on this year’s quarterly figures, immigration officials say it is unfair to use the 2010 numbers as a benchmark since it was a record year in granting permanent visas.

“The department is confident that irrespective of lower visas/authorizations issuance and admissions in the first quarter, it will meet its annual target of visas,” immigration spokesperson Nancy Caron wrote in an email to the Star.

Over the last 15 years, Canada’s annual immigration levels have remained around 250,000, about 0.8 per cent of the population.

The Conservative government has announced it intends slashing $4 billion in annual spending from the federal budget, raising fears of further cuts to the immigration system. More than $50 million was slashed this year in settlement services.

“The success (of immigration) is determined by the resources. This government has been cutting resources and a number of provinces have,” said New Democrat immigration critic Don Davies.

“In turn, it is going to put pressure on the number of immigrants we can appropriately absorb.”

Immigration lawyers say fewer permanent visas could mean bigger backlogs, especially for family sponsorships where there is no cap on applications like there is for skilled workers and investors.

“The real problem with backlogs are the parents . . . The math says people will die before seeing a visa,” said immigration lawyer and analyst Richard Kurland. “That is the major challenge to Canada’s immigration system today.”

Immigration lawyer Mario Bellissimo said he would not be surprised if the minister brings in a new law to cap family sponsorship applications. Since 2006, the number of visas for sponsored relatives and refugees has declined, while visas for workers have steadily increased.

“The (immigration) minister has the authority to decide who can come to Canada,” he said. “If we get more applications than we can process, we’re going to return them.”

Since 2008, the federal government has made numerous changes to its immigration program in an effort to eliminate backlogs and process applications in a more timely fashion. It counts on capping the number of immigration applications it accepts for processing.

A department backgrounder for the upcoming consultations, which are by invitation only, suggests while increasing immigration may be one way to solve the growing demand, “there are clearly a number of pressures that make trade-offs inevitable.”

With an aging population, “immigration levels will need to be raised to 350,000 annually to support Canada’s economic growth,” said Anne Golden, president and CEO of the Conference Board of Canada.

Ernst & Young business immigration lawyer Batia Stein said the biggest percentage drop in early 2011 comes in the federal skilled worker and Canada experience programs, which are designed to usher in immigrants most likely to succeed in the job market.

“If our goal is to attract global talent and combat our aging population, there’s some room there to do that,” she said.

Ryerson’s Siemiatycki said Canada has a capacity to take in as many as 450,000 immigrants a year by including the 200,000 temporary foreign workers that it lets in to fill labour market needs on a perennial basis.

According to the government’s consultation backgrounder, Canada would have to increase immigration to nearly 4 per cent of the population to stabilize its “old-age dependency ratio.”

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  • Anonymous

    “Ryerson’s Siemiatycki said Canada has a capacity to take in as many as 450,000 immigrants a year.”

    Only if one disregards the environmental impact in terms of pollution, energy use and loss of wild habitats. Everything has consequences.

    These ‘experts’ are just saying what the profiteers want them to say.

  • old vet

    foreigners are coming to get theirs, they won’t support the elders of a foreign tribe (white Canadians). Plus most countries have cultures which cheat on taxes, do you really think they will be model citizens in Canada?

  • Anonymous

    Great excellent work by the new majority government.

    Lets make it 100 percent.

  • A.Galland

    Canada should stop all immigration for at least 5 years in order to absorb the millions of third world mostly unemployable people .

    Barely any Europeans are coming to Canada as the government seems to dissuade white ,young and skilled people to immigrate to Canada.

  • highduke

    Harper lies somewhere between the Tea Party & progressive conservatism, which makes sense bc he headed the rightist Reform Party before it softened its stance to merge whth the Progressive Conservative Party after it got out that the last remanants of the decimated Skinhead movement were sympathizers, so bc of his Reform roots Harper may be implementing a covert pre-Trudeau revival. Maybe.

  • Anonymous

    The immigration policies of our Canadian neighbors should concern all Americans. Many of the new arrivals are not interested in remaining in Canada for too long. Once their status is adjusted, many choose to emigrate again with the United States as their planned destination.

    For many Arabs, Canada is merely a stepping stone to the USA. It is much easier to be accepted into the USA by claiming to be a “Canadian” than a citizen of an Arab country. The dolts at ICE do not grasp the significance of this. Too many of these benign “Canadians” are not being as closely scrutinized as would be warranted for Islamic militants.

    Look at the expanding Arab population of Metropolitan Detroit and other cities in Michigan. It is no accident that so many of these new arrivals crossed the Ambassador Bridge which links Windsor, Ontario to Detroit, Michigan.

  • Franco

    Excellent…now start deporting all those frenchies back across the pond…get back to the ENGLISH LANGUAGE ONLY.

  • Who Run Bartertown?

    Never trust anyone who: A) misuses “begs the question”; B) tacitly acknowledges the Ponzi nature of certain entitlements by saying that grandma’s government-pension cheque is at risk unless national borders are summarily erased. “(C)ombat our aging population”, indeed.

  • Anonymous

    Canada should end all immigration. Deport all the illegals and return to a white-based immigration policy.

  • Myopic Governance

    A journalist of my local newspaper wrote an article expressing concern Canada wasn’t increasing their immigration. She thought that Canada should be letting in 1 million immigrants a year.

    I can tell you that Canada let in AT LEAST 500, 000 immigrants last year alone. Most of them went to British Columbia. Both Vancouver and Victoria are 2 cities changing quickly beyond recognition.

    The treacherous actions of Western Governments continue unabated in the former great white North.

  • Anonymous

    This is probably an advertisement for the conservative party in Canada. Can’t get anymore direct/less subtle than this, most likely, or the smart-people, out of fear, would rebel.

  • Anonymous

    “Canada let in AT LEAST 500, 000 immigrants last year alone. Most of them went to British Columbia. Both Vancouver and Victoria are 2 cities changing quickly beyond recognition”

    I was guessing blacks would get the strip of canada east of the st lawrence seaway. By what you say, looks like white canadians may end up getting virtually nothing. Perhaps quebec will be the defacto reservation for whites in formerly great white north?

  • François

    @ Franco (7):

    No, Franco. Just let us separate, create our own country, free of Canadian multiculturalism and socialism. Canada is dead! You have already lost your own country to the invading hordes from the Third World, and we deserve a chance to break free!