CANADIAN ETHNIC MEDIA ASSOCIATION

Voices of Canada

CEMA member responds to Edmonton Journal’s attack on immigrants

January 26, 2015

Tories seeking balance on immigration;

As a class, immigrants currently consume more than they contribute

Lorne Gunter, The Edmonton Journal

Published: Sunday, March 16

For the past three decades, Canadian immigration policy has had two main purposes: to admit new voters for the party in power and to reaffirm the Canadian elite’s high opinion of itself.

Oh, I know, the stated policy is to bring in people desirous of a new beginning and new opportunities who have skills with which they can, in turn, make a near-immediate contribution to their new country. It is to be a win-win for Canada and the newcomers.

In practice, though, the prime beneficiaries have been new Canadians and the Liberal Party of Canada.

I’m not anti-immigration. Indeed, I’m in favour of robust immigration. I could even be persuaded to support open immigration, just not into a welfare state.

It is fiscal and tax madness to admit tens of thousands of immigrants who have almost no hope of ever contributing more to Canada than they will consume in social benefits. Yet ever since Pierre Trudeau was prime minister, we have steadily increased the percentage of our immigrants who are “non-economic,” in other words immigrants we never expect to be net contributors.

Today, non-economic immigrants make up nearly half of our intake.

For immigration to work in a country with cradle-to-grave social programs, it must be a social compact with financial responsibilities on both the newcomer and the recipient country. For at least the past 15 years, though, that compact has become increasingly one-sided.

Just 55 per cent of the more than a quarter of a million immigrants we accepted in 2006 were considered “economic” immigrants, meaning they were functional in one of our two official languages and had a skill needed in the Canadian economy.

In fact, just 18 per cent were skilled workers. The other 37 per cent in the economic class were the spouses and children of someone with a marketable skill. But I would never propose that men and women be made to come here without their wives, husbands or children. So, let’s call it 55 per cent “economic” and 45 per cent “non-economic.”

Furthermore, 13 per cent of those classified as “non-economic” were admitted on humanitarian and compassionate ground. Let’s not question their admission either.

So let’s say 68 per cent of our immigrants each year — just over two-thirds — are people we unquestionably want. Either they have a better than average chance of making a net economic contribution — or their children do — or they have a legitimate claim on our kindness.

That still leaves nearly a third of our immigrants, some 80,000 a year, to be non-economic. Most of these are parents, grandparents, siblings and other relatives of existing immigrants.

These are the newcomers the federal Conservative government is thinking of cutting back on.

The rationale behind the cuts is obvious.

According to Statistics Canada, immigrants who were admitted in 1970 were earning the same income (and paying the same taxes) as their Canadian-born colleagues by 1980. Yet those admitted in 1990 were at just 80 per cent of Canadian-born earnings 10 years after their arrival.

A succinct and quick response to Gunter by CEMA member Arnim Joop, Editor/Publisher of The Albertaner

Dear Mr. Gunter:

In your March 16 column about immigration, you said that “immigrants currently conssume more than they conribute.”more than they contribute.”

This is a terrible thing to say. It makes me so mad and sad.

I don’t care how many statistics you quote, to say that immigrants consume more than they contribute, is not only a stupid generalization, but also a very inflammatory statement, insulting thousands of immigrants who come to Canada and are working hard here to makthis country a better place this country a better place.

This week, my wife Susan is celebrating the 20th anniversary of her arrival in Canada. She has a teaching degree from the Philippines, which is not recognized in Canada, and is now working two jobs as a nurse in geriatric care. She has sponsored her two children and her parents to come to Canada.

Our daughter, who has a degree in business management, has started a bed & breakfast business in Fort Saskatchewan, which she has been running successfully with her husband for almost 15 years now. She was the first female, first immigrant and youngest ever president of the Fort Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, has organized several trade shows, Canada Day events and other community events and volunteered for other activities in Fort Saskatchewan for which she was recognized by Queen Elizabeth II with the Golden Jubilee Medal.

Our son is studying aviation technology at SAIT in Calgary and will work in this field after graduating next month.

My wife’s parents have never received a single penny of support from the Government of Canada. When we sponsored them, we signed a paper, guaranteeing that we would support them for the first 10 years of their stay in Canada. The have both passed away before reaching that 10-year mark.

And myself, I came to Canada as an independent immigrant in 1989 and started my own business in 1995, the Albertaner, a monthly newspaper for German-speaking people in Alberta, which I have been publishing successfully since then. I have received numerous awards recognizing my work and volunteering, including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal “for making a significant contribution to Canada” and the Alberta Centennial Medal “in recognition of outstanding service to the people and province of Alberta.”

It is not my intention to brag about these accomplishments of our family, but we are proud to have contributed a lot to Canada in the last two decades, and there are many immigrants who work just as hard as we do and many of them even harder.

So, how can you say that “immigrants consume more than they contribute”?

I hope the next time you write about immigrants, you will recognize how much we contribute to make Canada the best country in the world.

Yours truly,

Arnim Joop