The Hon. Joe Volpe, Publisher
TORONTO - More than twenty-one thousand (21,000) residents voluntarily gave up their Canadian Permanent Resident status in the last two years.
For the uninitiated, this means that, despite the challenges successful immigrants faced to enter Canada, they decided not to proceed toward citizenship. Moreover, to avoid any confusion in their country of origin, they formally renounced any ties to Canada. This, according to Richard Kurland, a noted Vancouver immigration lawyer, whose blog is followed by the Vancouver Sun and cited in the Montreal Gazette on March, 7.
It is their right, of course. People are not obliged to remain in Canada once they are landed, despite the often-repeated self-indulgence that “Canada is the best country in the world”. It smarts for an immigrant like me that others don’t share the same fierce attachment to the country I love and help build.
But the number of those who use Canada as a mere transitional stop-over is evidently much higher than the 21,000 who seek to legally annul any relationship to our homeland.
Several “think tanks” (like the Asia Pacific Foundation) and even the CIA public research department place the retention rate of those admitted to Canada at between 55% and 60%. It is not difficult to see that, given Canada’s proximity to the USA, some migrants venture beyond Canadian borders in search of more rewarding opportunities.
Thoughtful Immigration policies must, of necessity, however, concentrate on permanence – retention. How else does a country build for the future?
While the “statistics” just mentioned may startle some, at the very least they show that governments cannot invent policies in a vacuum. They need partners to provide real data on economic need and social conditions for successful integration.
That means jobs and support networks for new arrivals into our environment. But it must also mean the availability of people with the required skills and desire to practice them here. They do not fall from the skies like manna from heaven.
Or do they? The Brexit vote is making the permanence of hundreds of thousands of Europeans (primarily from Italy, Poland and Portugal) in England rather precarious. 250, 000 Italians in the construction and restaurant industries, who made their way into Britain over the last 10 years because Canada’s discriminatory language requirements removed us from their list of options, may now be on the move again.
Those two sectors of the economy are already straining under a labour shortage. A document made available to the Corriere Canadese, by a union official on March 2, lists eight (8) non-governmental infrastructure projects, at various stages of the development process, that will come to market in this calendar year.
Total value: $ 10.145 Billion. Direct jobs potential 14,000. That is in addition to the on-going demand generated by the current economic dynamics. It does not consider the needs or the impact of Federal or Provincial Infrastructure projects that may be announced in the upcoming budgets.
One Union business manager told the Corriere, “where are we going to get the labour? Contractors are already poaching each other’s staff – some of them ’visa-overstays’. Just a small number of our sub-contractors can absorb 3,000 new workers tomorrow”.
Where to recruit them? A better analysis of the “push-pull” factors of immigration might help. Southern Italy for example, long a supplier of stable immigrants to Canada, is under-going a period of elevated levels of unemployment – 55% among educated and trained Millenials.
These have friends and family among Southern Ontario’s 800,000 strong Italian community. General Contractors and Restaurateurs are clamouring for the authority to recruit them…in the thousands, for jobs that go begging to be filled.
Interestingly, Library of Parliament Research Branch has this to say about post-war Italian immigration: 90% came because of family or business sponsorship; 97% stayed permanently.
Yet, the most recent Immigration Canada statistic show that Canada landed only 80 Italians under its Express Entry program (for Ontario).
Why that disconnect?