More help for new­com­ers

Times Colonist - - Comment - Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor

Canada is a vast, sprawl­ing land with a rel­a­tively small pop­u­la­tion that would ben­e­fit greatly from more com­pany. Now, thanks to Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, more com­pany will be ar­riv­ing.

The im­mi­gra­tion tar­gets un­veiled by the gov­ern­ment re­cently are large enough to in­crease dra­mat­i­cally the flow of new­com­ers in this pe­riod but sen­si­ble enough to avoid fu­elling need­less, anti-im­mi­grant fears. Pro­vided there are in­creased re­sources to back up the in­creased num­bers, Ot­tawa’s plan should ben­e­fit the peo­ple liv­ing here as much as those who are com­ing. But we have to be ready.

From this year’s tar­get of ac­cept­ing 300,000 im­mi­grants, the plan is to ad­mit 310,000 per­ma­nent new res­i­dents in 2018, 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020. That last fig­ure rep­re­sents a 30 per cent in­crease over the num­ber ad­mit­ted in a typ­i­cal year when Stephen Harper and the Con­ser­va­tives were in power. And it’s 21 per cent higher than the num­ber who ar­rived in 2010, the peak im­mi­gra­tion year dur­ing Harper’s term.

There are strong ar­gu­ments for these in­creases. With our low birth rate and a rapidly ag­ing pop­u­la­tion, it makes sense to start dra­mat­i­cally boost­ing the num­ber of im­mi­grants Canada ac­cepts each year. In the com­ing decades, the per­cent­age of our pop­u­la­tion made up of re­tirees will soar as the per­cent­age of work­ers de­clines. This de­mo­graphic shift will put greater pres­sures on pub­lic pen­sions and the pub­lic health-care sys­tem Who will pay for it all? Part of the an­swer is im­mi­grants and their chil­dren.

What the gov­ern­ment has to fo­cus on now is en­sur­ing there are enough re­sources avail­able from its own agen­cies as well as pri­vate or­ga­ni­za­tions to help set­tle the higher im­mi­grant flows. We must al­ways re­mem­ber we’re talk­ing about real peo­ple, not just num­bers in a bu­reau­crat’s file.

Cana­di­ans now have a very rea­son­able im­mi­gra­tion plan. But its suc­cess will be de­ter­mined by how well it’s man­aged.

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