A new report regarding Canada’s immigration system states that immigrants are a financial burden to Canadian taxpayers and proposes some radical changes to the country’s current immigrant selection system.
The report, carried out by the Fraser Institute – a leading Canadian policy think tank – suggests that immigrants place a financial burden of around CDN$20 billion per year on Canadian taxpayers.
“Recent immigrants who arrived since 1986 earn less and pay less tax than they receive in benefits from government spending. As a result, they are costing Canadian taxpayers about $20 billion annually,” said Herbert Grubel, the study’s author.
According to Grubel, one of the main reasons for this burden is the fact that so many of the immigrants who enter Canada each year don’t bring any economic benefits to the country – such as skilled workers who can’t find work and elderly parents of immigrants.
The report suggests that Canada’s immigrant selection process should rely more on the employment needs of the private sector and pre-arranged contracts for work to ensure new immigrants will prosper and succeed economically.
“I recommend we get rid of the current system altogether, because it relies on decisions made by politicians on issues which are virtually unknowable and we substitute for it the judgment of business people,” suggests Grubel.
The study’s author also believes that immigration of parents and grandparents be stopped completely, although he says such a measure should be phased in over time rather than being brought in immediately.
However, the study has already drawn criticism from a number of sources, especially for the suggestion that elderly parents don’t contribute anything to the economy.
“Parents and grandparents do a lot of undocumented, necessary work inside and outside of the house allowing new Canadians to actually be out in the labour force,” immigration lawyer Zool Suleman told CBC News.
Meanwhile, NDP MP Don Davies told the Vancouver Sun that the study also overlooks the important role family reunification plays in recruiting highly-skilled foreigners in the first place.
“What is the impact on our policy if we tell that person he can’t sponsor his (surviving) parent to come to Canada? We may lose that immigrant to other countries, so there’s unintended consequences,” he said.
As of November 2011, no new applications to sponsor parents or grandparents permanently for immigration are being accepted for processing for up to 24 months by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, due to huge backlogs. However, parents and grandparents may be eligible to visit and remain in Canada for up to 24 months at a time without the need for renewal of their status, through the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa.