The westcoast so-called think tank, the Fraser Institute recently published a report on Canada’s immigration policy – looking at some economic aspects.
A number of Vancouver area immigrant society responded to the Fraser Institute report.
Here is their joint media release from yesterday, May 20th, 2011:
Fraser Institute Report on Immigrants Flawed
Summary: The heads of S.U.C.C.E.S.S., PICS and MHHS speak out against a report that attacks immigration policy, and blames immigrants for receiving more benefits than they pay in taxes.
Vancouver, May 20, 2011. The heads of three of BC’s immigrant serving organizations are speaking out against a Fraser Institute report on “Immigrants and the Canadian Welfare State 2011″.
According to the report, in the fiscal year 2005/06, immigrants on average received an excess of $6,051 in benefits over taxes paid, and that they created a fiscal burden of up to $23.6 Billion.
“The conclusions are flawed,” comments Leo Valdes, Executive Director of Vancouver-based Multicultural Helping House Society or MHHS. “The authors used a narrow balance sheet approach on what residents give and take from the government.”
The report concluded immigrants get comparatively more breaks because they do not pay as much in taxes. “Anyone can use the same data and conclude that low-income earners – immigrant or not – get more tax breaks,” Valdes added.
Thomas Tam, CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S. observed that the report does not consider the social benefits and contributions of immigrants to Canadian society. “There are many bright, highly educated immigrants that did not cost Canada anything in education. If [the authors] are economists, why didn’t they quantify the social benefits?”
According to Tam, non-recognition of qualifications or credentials hampers immigrants from properly using their talents; most times forcing them to take on entry level jobs.
Charan Gill, CEO of Progressive Intercultural Community Services or PICS pointed out that new immigrants were more willing to accept survival jobs during the labour shortages in 2006-2007. “No amount of incentive could economically help small businesses in Calgary get labour from their own population. Immigrants and temporary foreign workers saved the day.”
Gill also noted that the report’s suggestion that market forces would have driven innovation and replaced labour with automation is “out of touch with reality. You cannot automate 2-3 person shops and small businesses so that they are run with less or no employees.”
All three heads are concerned about the recommendations for removing reunification, and for treating all new skilled workers as temporary. Tam comments, “Canada has invited the best and brightest of the world. This [recommendation] would not even allow them to see their families for years.”
“This suggestion only encourages desperation – immigrants will have to take on any job because they could face deportation after two years,” remarked Valdes.
“Our immigrants deserve better than what this report reveals,” adds Gill. “Immigrants contribute to and integrate into Canadian society much faster than in the past; alienating them with a report like this is pointless.”
S.U.C.C.E.S.S., MHHS and PICS serve immigrants from all over the world, and specialize on Chinese, Filipino and Punjabi-speaking newcomers – the largest growing ethnic populations in Metro Vancouver.