As our population ages and our labour market shrinks, we will need new people to fund the pensions and social services that Canadians expect. Not only that, but immigration can help to sustain Cape Breton’s labour force and economic growth.
It was an honour to welcome the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Hon. Marco Mendicino, along with my colleague, Mike Kelloway, M.P. for Cape Breton—Canso at Cape Breton University to meet with the students’ union and the board of directors to discuss a broad range of issues such as effective and innovative ways to raise awareness about the importance of immigration in our Cape Breton communities. In fact, all members of the students’ union are international students, a first for the university.
In the current global environment, Canada has an opportunity to leverage its strong, well-managed immigration system and we can do so by continuing to attract high-skilled workers to support an innovative economy right here in Cape Breton. An increasing number of the people we select for immigration are already here, as a temporary foreign worker, or having studied at one of our universities or other post-secondary institutions. These individuals know our country, speak one or both of our official languages, and generally have work experience here. They are excellent candidates because we can be relatively assured they will integrate well.
Attracting international investment, expanding trade, and creating jobs in our community
Immigration can help to sustain our country’s labour force and economic growth. That’s why our Government announced a multi-year plan to increase the number of immigrants coming to Canada.
In November 2017, our Government announced a plan to gradually increase the number of newcomers Canada will welcome annually over the next three years. As a result, immigration will trend toward 1% of Canada’s population in 2020. The increase will help meet Canada’s economic, family reunification, and humanitarian goals for immigration. Canada now welcomes about 300,000 newcomers a year to the country, and will increase levels to 310,000 permanent residents this year, 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020. This is the highest number of admissions in more than a century!
The majority of the increase will be in economic programs. The adoption of a growth-oriented multi-year levels plan will help us to:
- Plan for the future and address the impact of our aging population;
- Support economic growth and innovation and address labour market needs; and
- Reinforce our global leadership on immigration and uphold our humanitarian commitments by offering protection to those in need.
The aging of our population and a declining fertility rate will continue to have a significant impact on our economy. In 1971, there were 6.6 people of working age for each senior. By 2012, the worker-to-retiree ratio had dropped to 4.2 to 1, and projections put the ratio at 2 to 1 by 2036, at which time five million Canadians are set to retire.
Immigration alone cannot solve this demographic challenge, but it can help, as we look to keep our economy growing and maintain our commitments for health care, public pensions and other social programs. In recent years, more than 80 per cent of the immigrants we admit have been under 45 years of age.
Giving young Canadians the skills and experience they need to succeed
Our future success depends on young Canadians, and our Liberal government has been working hard to get them the skills and training they need to start meaningful careers.
Our Liberal government is helping more young people get a good start by enhancing support for apprenticeships, making post-secondary education more affordable, and investing in up to 84,000 more student work placements. By helping young people gain the skills and experience they need for a fair chance at success, we are investing in our greatest asset—our people.
Our investments in the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy have helped over 220,000 young Canadians, the youth unemployment rate is the lowest on record, and since 2015, three times as many jobs have been created for young Canadians than at the same point in the Conservative’s last mandate who cut $20 million in funding for the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, and whose policies drove youth unemployment to the highest rates since the 90’s.
Our Government has improved the processing of student applications for international students
IRCC’s International Student program aims to help make Cape Breton a destination of choice for international students seeking a high-quality education.
Growing Cape Breton’s economic future
Immigration only works for Canada if we can help ensure that immigrants integrate and contribute to our economy and our communities.
I am committed to an immigration system that strengthens Cape Breton’s middle class through economic growth, supports diversity and helps build dynamic and inclusive communities, while maintaining border security, and to preserving the health, safety and security of Canadians. Our immigration system has made Canada the nation it is today – one that is diverse, prosperous and welcoming to those in need. Demographics and diverse labour market needs drive Canada’s demand for immigration, but it is our commitment to integration and to helping those in need that sets us apart.Jaime Battiste, M.P. for Sydney—Victoria
Immigration will continue to play a crucial role in keeping our country at the forefront of the global economy. Thanks to immigration, Canada is in a better position than other countries, like our G7 counterparts, to face future labour force challenges arising from our aging population.