(Ottawa, Thursday, December 7, 1995) The Nov 15 Opinion page commentary, “B.C. can’t afford Canada’s immigration policies”, failed to communicate the statistical facts about immigration to British Columbia. The article also failed to grasp the realities of the past, present and future economic condition of Canada.
It has been proven time and time again that the immigrant population of Canada is, on the whole, highly educated and plays a vital role in the economic development of Canada. In fact, the benefits to all Canadians for the contributions made by immigrants in the workforce are all but ignored by the author, Charles Campbell. Does he realize the statistics that show the immigrant population of Canada contributing more than the average population?
The Canadian Forecast Summary of DRI/McGraw Hill for Fall-Winter 1994-95 states that “ultimately, immigrants have higher employment and participation rates than Canadian born citizens. As a result, higher levels of immigration will boost the potential labour force in the long run, which increases the level of potential output.” It is clear that economic growth and prosperity of Canada and British Columbia is indelibly linked to the immigration rate – whether this concept is palatable to author Campbell or not.
In addition, more than 31 per cent of all business immigrants to Canada – immigrants who must invest a minimum amount in a Canadian business which will contribute to employment opportunities for Canadians, have located themselves in British Columbia, reports Facts and Figures, an Overview of Immigration, published by the federal government.
According to this report more than fifty per cent of the immigrants to this country speak English. If Campbell is so worried about those few individuals are unable to speak English, perhaps he could arrange for the 187,000 unemployed British Columbians to teach English as a second language as a means of earning decent wages.
The Campbell’s own ancestors perished in battles against such precepts – they stood and fought – or they moved to Canada! They chose Canada because it was a country where they could practice their traditions, language and culture in peace. Has Campbell conveniently forgotten what his ancestors stood for and what most Canadians now uphold: namely that, in the end, every single one of us (without aboriginal/native ancestry) is an immigrant to this country and has our own individuality to preserve and protect.
Some may consider the commentary anti-Asian, even though refugees applying to Canada from Asia and the Pacific are second in number, behind Africa and the Middle East. Only four per cent of refugees settled in Vancouver in 1993. In fact, most refugees have settled in Ontario and Quebec. Family class immigrants, who are required by law to be financially supported by their sponsors, represent only 16 per cent of the immigrant population to B.C. It is just too bad the author didn’t base his arguments on immigration facts, statistics and valid research into the issue.
Perhaps a more reasonable approach to issues of concern to all Canadians is too difficult and time consuming – blaming Asians for economic hardship would appear to be far easier and convenient for politicians and journalists alike. B.C., like Quebec, only takes in 17 per cent of the immigrant population.
The big picture is so easily overlooked, that British Columbians are being encouraged to panic over a perceived situation that is really not that bad after all.
Perhaps Campbell is afraid of the realities that would blow tremendous holes in his theories that serve to blame Canadian immigrants for the woes of this country. Such a sentiment is not new – but does demonstrate the ignorance of the facts – facts that have historically proven the consistent contributions of immigrant families to the economic prosperity of B.C., and every other province of this great country.