Centre for Immigration Policy Reform’s Collacott Criticizes “Passports of Convenience” in Vancouver Sun Article

Martin Collacott, a former Canadian diplomat and advocate of immigration reform, says passports of convenience could end up costing Canadians (Brian from Toronto)

A new story in the Vancouver Sun looks at the issue of recent immigrants obtaining Canadian citizenship and then returning to their home countries.

The phenomenon, which it calls ‘passports of convenience’, has critics and defenders within Canada, with a prominent figure from each side interviewed for the article:

The Sun articles elicited opposing perspectives from Yuen Pau Woo, head of the Asia Pacific Foundation, and Martin Collacott, a former Canadian diplomat and key figure at the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform, who is also a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.

Collacott says that those who get citizenship and then live abroad pose a risk of incurring an economic cost for Canada, because they don’t contribute to Canada’s tax base but are eligible for Canadian health care and Old Age Security benefits when they retire.

The cost, in the way of taxes, for Canadians to support one individual from the age of 65 to 85 is $350,000 according to Collacott, and this amounts to a very big subsidy for those Canadians who work abroad for most of their life and then return to Canada for retirement.

Collacott also argues that it’s fair to place higher expectations on Canadians who immigrated to the country to work in the country than on those born in Canada:

“While it’s fair to state there should be as few distinctions as possible between Canadian-born and naturalized citizens, it is also perfectly reasonable for us to expect that, of the many millions around the world who would like to move here, we have the right to expect that those to whom we grant this privilege should demonstrate a real attachment to their new homeland and not choose to move away as soon as they obtain a Canadian passport.”

These criticisms are motivated by reports of a subset of immigrants coming to Canada with a plan to stay in the country long enough to get citizenship, a period which they sometimes refer to as immigration prison, and then immediately move back once they have acquired Canadian citizenship.

There might be little that the federal government could do about this type of gaming of immigration rules however, as the Canadian Charter of Rights guarantees all citizens equal rights and privileges, which precludes additional residency requirements being placed on naturalized Canadians.

Vancouver Sun: Immigration Costs Canada $20 Billion a Year

Protesters in the U.S. calling for amnesty for undocumented workers. Simon Fraser University Professor Herbert Grubel says immigrants reduce wages for the native-born population while increasing employer incomes

In a special to the Vancouver Sun on Tuesday, a Simon Fraser University professor of economics, Herbert Grubel, argues that immigration costs Canadians up to $20 billion a year when all the costs and benefits are tallied.

Grubel, who is also a senior research fellow at the Fraser Institute, goes through some of recent findings on the economic effects of immigration from studies in various countries to come to his estimate.

The first is an American study which found that immigrants have increased the annual national income of the U.S. by $1.6 trillion, while receiving $1.565 trillion in labour compensation, with the remaining $35 billion going to natural-born Americans.

Extrapolating these findings to Canada, Grubel estimates the “immigration effect” results in $3.5 billion in increased income in Canada.

Another conclusion of the American study, says Grubel, is that immigration has resulted in a shift in income from workers to employers, with employer earnings seeing a $43.5 billion increase and worker earnings decreasing by $40 billion.

This redistribution of income, argues Grubel, results in calls on the government to increase taxes on employers and increase subsidies for workers, which harms incentives that promote productivity, which could cost the Canadian economy more than the $3.5 billion worth of benefits that the immigration effect provides.

In addition to the costs linked to the effects of immigration on employer-employee income shares, Grubel cites a study he helped conduct at the Fraser Institute that found that recent immigrants also increase the annual fiscal burden by $20 billion, because they pay half as much in taxes as native-born Canadians, while receiving the same government benefits.

Grubel says a recent French study has similar findings, with both studies assessing a per recent-immigrant fiscal burden that amounts to approximately 1 percent of GDP for Canada’s immigration population size.

Other supposed benefits of immigration are non-existent or negative according to Grubel. For example he says that the boost immigration gives to tax funds available for education and Social Security is offset by the increased costs it burdens these programs with.

Grubel concludes that Canada should reduce immigration and only admit those with a high enough income earning and tax paying potential to increase the average income of native-born Canadians.

Canada Has Second Largest Immigrant Population In Developed World -StatCan

Among the advanced economies, only Australia has more foreign born residents as a portion of its total population than Canada

Canada is behind only Australia in the relative size of its foreign born population, according to a new Statistics Canada report. Among the G8, Canada’s foreign born component, at 20.6 percent of the total population, is the largest.

The statistics follow the trend in recent years of Australia followed by Canada having the highest per capita immigration rates in the world.

Public opinion in the two countries, as well as in Finland and South Korea, has been the most accepting of immigration among the advanced economies.

The Statcan report shows that about 1,162,900 foreign-born individuals entered Canada between 2006 and 2011 and that combined they make up 17.2 percent of Canada’s total foreign-born population.

Among this group, 56.9 percent came from Asia and 78 percent are visible minorities. This is a reverse of the situation prior to 1970, when only 8.5 percent of the foreign born population was from Asia and 12.4 percent were visible minorities.

Toronto Star Reports On Government Efforts Against Marriage Fraud

Efforts by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP seem to be reducing the number of fraudulent marriage sponsorships (Ra Boe)

The Toronto Star, the most widely circulated newspaper in Canada, published a story on Wednesday that describes the marriage sponsorship fraud that authorities are clamping down on and some of the obstacles the anti-abuse measures are imposing on Canadians seeking to sponsor foreign spouses.

The article, by the Toronto Star’s immigration reporter, Nicholas Keung, profiles Sarem Soomro, whose marriage sponsorship application was rejected by Canadian immigration officials due to the education and age gap between the younger, high-school educated, Soomro, and his Pakistani wife, who has a degree in economics.

Despite showing logs of Facebook chats, wedding photos, receipts, and a wedding certificate, authorities did not accept the sponsorship application.

In another case, a spouse who was already living in Canada while the sponsorship application was being reviewed received a surprise visit at her home which convinced the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) that the marriage was a fraud:

That occurred in a case where border officers noticed the address on Xiu Yi Xuan’s driver’s licence was different than the address of her Canadian husband.

In a scene reminiscent of the 1990 romantic comedy Green Card, about a marriage of convenience, the Canada Border Services Agency made an unannounced visit to the couple’s Markham home to investigate.

Xuan, a failed refugee claimant from China, was home at the time and unable to produce her husband’s toothbrush (she claimed they shared one). She couldn’t say whether her husband used an electric razor or a disposable one, nor could she show the officer any evidence of his socks or underwear.

Despite other indications it was a genuine marriage — joint bank accounts, joint insurance, joint donations and ownership of a Stouffville property — Xuan was arrested. The couple’s spousal sponsorship was rejected and, most recently, their appeal to Federal Court denied.

The two types of immigration fraud that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) encounters, Keung notes, are cases where a foreign national manipulates and defrauds a Canadian, in order to get sponsored by them for permanent residence, and then leaves them once they have gotten what they wanted, and cases of collusion between the Canadian and the foreign national, where both understand that the primary purpose of the marriage is to provide the foreigner with Canadian permanent residency.

CIC has made changes to sponsorship rules to reduce the incidence of the first type, including instituting an initial two year probationary permanent resident status for sponsored spouses. Under the new rules, if the foreign spouse leaves their Canadian partner within that two year period, due to reasons other than neglect or abuse, their conditional permanent residency status is repealed.

The RCMP has had some successes prosecuting crime rings involving the second type of marriage fraud, including one where nearly 300 Canadian women, mostly of Haitian descent, were sponsoring men from North Africa in exchange for money.

The changes by the involved government agencies seem to be having an effect, with more people being deported on charges of sponsorship fraud annually, and a higher percentage of marriage sponsorship applications being found inadmissible due to lack of evidence of a genuine marriage.

New Poll Shows Most Canadians Favour Immigration Limits

A new survey shows most Canadians welcome immigration, but want limits on the number of immigrants admitted

A new poll conducted by Forum Research for the National Post finds that 70 percent of Canadians favour having limits on the number of immigrants admitted into the country each year.

Among Canadians born in another country, 58 percent reported being in favour of having immigration limits, compared to 73 percent of Canadians in born in Canada. Perhaps surprisingly, the poll shows a small but significant minority of Canadians, 23 percent, support removing all immigration limits and admitting all applicants.

Average views differed slightly between Canadians of different political affiliations. Conservatives were on the average the most in favour of immigration limits and restrictions, with 76 percent disagreeing that immigrants should be able to bring their extended family to Canada, while 61 percent of Liberals and 59 percent of Greens said the same.

The most common anti-immigration view expressed by Canadians in the survey was that only immigrants from countries that share Canadian values should be admitted. 49 percent of respondents agreed with this position, while 43 percent said immigrants from all countries should be accepted.

Canadian Military Trying to Recruit More Immigrants

The Canadian Forces (CF) are looking for ways to recruit more visible minorities

The Canadian Forces are facing a challenge in recruiting enough minorities from mostly immigrant groups, according to a story in politics.ca.

Author Colin Horgan notes that among Asian and Arab-Canadians, the interest in careers in the military is low:

When Ipsos Reid asked non-Chinese Asian- and Arab-Canadians what line of work they might be interested in pursuing or would recommend to a younger person, no more than one per cent of those polled said they’d look for a job in the military.

Further, when asked which career they’d be least interested in pursuing, Ipsos Reid found “the military tops the list.” Thirty-one per cent of Asian- and Arab-Canadian youth (and 25 per cent of those polled from the community) told the polling firm that a career in the military would be of least interest to them, “followed distantly by other fields.”

Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) commissioned the Ipsos Reid survey that returned the findings as part of its effort to understand minority attitudes toward the Armed Forces.

The Ispsos Reid report on the survey states that the DND is seeking better recruitment strategies for increasing the representation of this demographic in the armed forces in order to “comply with Employment Equity (EE) Act requirements and ensure operational effectiveness”.

In 2010, the Armed Forces set a target of visible minorities making up 12 percent of its personnel in 2013, but nearly three years later, it is only 5 percent.

The Canadian Armed Forces also struggles to recruit Canadian Aboriginals, which contrasts with the experience of the US military, where Native Americans have the highest per capita enlistment rates of any ethnicity in the country.

Globe & Mail: Highly Educated Parents Choose Canada

The make-up of the typical Canadian school has changed dramatically since the 1950s, with 10 percent of K-12 students now foreign-born, and a majority of immigrant students belonging to a visible minority group

A new story in the Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest national newspaper, explores the advantage Canada has over other high income democracies in attracting highly educated emigrants.

The article notes that 10 percent of K-12 students in Canada are foreign-born, with the prevalence increasing to over 25 percent in major metropolitan centres like Vancouver and Toronto.

It lauds the success of these foreign born students, who despite facing the challenges of integrating into a new country, outperform their native born peers academically.

This is in contrast to other countries, including the US and UK, where immigrant students perform more poorly academically than their native-born peers, and this, the article contends, is often the reason why highly educated parents choose to immigrate to Canada.

The article has generated tremendous interest among the Globe’s readership, with 600 comments submitted at the time of this writing.

Financial Posts Advises Canada Follow Australia’s Lead in International Students Policy

The Financial Post article is one in a series of high profile endorsements of shifting education and immigration policy to attract more international students and give them an easier path to Canadian permanent residence (CICS News)

An article in today’s Financial Post by Diane Francis applauds recent changes that have made Canadian immigration policy more similar to Australia’s and recommends that Canada go further in emulating the other nation’s policies.

It notes that a recent report by a government advisory panel has called for a doubling of international students in Canada and, like Australia, creating an easier path for foreign graduates of Canadian post-secondary institutions to stay in Canada:

Australia’s success has been widely disseminated and last week a blue-ribbon federal task force in Canada released a report that would emulate its policy. The number of foreign students allowed entry into Canadian institutions should nearly double in a decade and those who graduate from Canadian institutions should be eligible to remain, rather than having to return home and wait years to get in.

Francis writes that the success of Australia’s international student policy owes in part to a superior national marketing effort. She suggests Australia provides better information resources for prospective foreign students in the studyinaustralia.gov.au website, and that the federal government should make studyincanada.com a comparable resource.

The article goes on to note that Australian universities charge international students more than Canadian universities, but that they provide the benefit of immigration eligibility upon graduation. Francis says that doing the same in Canada would attract more highly skilled immigrants who have a greater likelihood of being successful in Canada’s job market due to their Canadian credentials.

Francis also criticizes the current combination of low tuition for international students enrolled in Canadian medical schools, immigration laws that prevent foreign graduates of Canadian medical schools from staying in the country to practice medicine, and the difficulty foreign trained doctors have in becoming licensed to practice in Canada, in encouraging Canadian students to go abroad to become doctors and creating a shortage of licensed doctors in Canada:

Worse yet, there are inadequate places for Canadians at Canadian medical schools and the result is that hundreds of Canadians go to Australian medical schools, and virtually all stay, according to University of Melbourne Professor and immigration specialist Lesleyanne Hawthorne.

(This points out another needed immigration reform. As Canadians go abroad to become doctors because foreigners have taken their places, foreigners who study here cannot stay to practice medicine because they must go home and re-apply. No foreign credentials, Australian or even American, are recognized by Canada’s protectionist medical profession.)

***

By offering eligibility with an education, universities here can up their fees substantially, and provide more spaces for Canadians.

Next, the article praises Australia’s immigration policy for selectively picking international students with credentials that are in demand for permanent residence eligibility, and rejecting those students who “have not adjusted to the culture or who have not behaved properly”.

Finally, the articles warns that in making the path to immigration for international students easier and working to double the number of foreign students in Canada, the potential exists for “private-school rackets” that hand out low-quality credentials to crop up in greater numbers, and that the federal government would need to prevent this by monitoring institutions that cater to international students.

The Financial Post article is the third recent high-profile publication advising the federal government gear its immigration policy toward international students.

A report published by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives earlier this month and authored by the president of UBC recommends that Canada focus on attracting more international students from Asia, and a government advisory panel released its finding last week that urges the federal government to set a target of doubling the number international students that study in Canada within ten years.

Canadians 2nd Most Optimistic About Economy After Brazilians in New Poll

A view of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s largest city. Brazilians were on average the most optimistic about their country’s economy outlook of the nationalities polled in a recent survey of 13 countries (Ramon)

The results of a new poll commissioned by the International Trade Union Confederation show Canadians behind only Brazilians as the most optimistic citizens of any of the thirteen countries included in the poll.

The poll covered the adult populations of Canada, Brazil, United States, Mexico, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, South Africa, Bulgaria, Japan, Belgium, and the United Kingdom, and interviewed 1,000 respondents in each country.

It found Greeks and Japanese the most pessimistic and second most pessimistic. The last place showing for Greece and Japan is unsurprising given Greece’s recent economic crisis, and Japan’s two decade long economic stagnation, mounting debt national debt, and the widespread destruction caused by the 2011 earthquake, including continuing problems with radiation leakage from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

The majority of people in all but two of the countries said they believe their country is headed in the wrong direction. In the US, only 35 percent were optimistic about the direction their country was headed, far lower than the 61 percent of Canadians who said the same. Among Brazilians, 69 percent of respondents said they were optimistic about the direction their country is headed.

Nearly Three Quarters of Canadians Oppose Increasing Immigration Levels

Immigrants make up 40 percent of the population of the Greater Vancouver Region (GVR), pictured above. Public opinion in Ontario and British, the provinces with the most immigrants, was the most critical of immigration, with 38 percent saying it has a negative impact on the country. (Image provided by Michael G. Khmelnitsky)

A new public opinion poll shows that 72 percent of Canadians oppose increasing immigration levels, a sign that Canada is following in suit a broader trend among Western countries of public sentiment turning against immigration.

Despite the opposition to raising the number of immigrants admitted each year, Canadians on average still view immigration as having more of a positive impact than a negative one on Canada, which contrasts with public opinion in other western countries like the UK, where 68 percent of respondents in a recent poll said they believed immigration has a negative effect on their country.

Canada has historically had the most favourable public opinion toward immigration among OECD countries, and as a percentage of its population, has the highest immigration levels in the world.

The Ipsos Reid poll used a sample of 1,101 Canadians and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points