November 4, 2005: Volpe Says Immigrants Catch Up In 5 Years; Studies Say Otherwise (By Peter O'Neil in The Vancouver Sun)
Immigrants catch up in 5 years
Volpe: Studies say otherwise
Volpe defends plan to boost immigration
Minister disputes study that says newcomers' incomes below other Canadians
Friday, November 04, 2005
OTTAWA — Immigration Minister Joe Volpe, now pushing a plan before cabinet to dramatically increase the number of newcomers to Canada while “fixing” his much-criticized department, says new immigrants are struggling economically but within five years catch up or exceed the incomes of other Canadians.
He dismissed as “anti-immigrant” a new study by the Fraser Institute which, citing numerous studies from groups ranging from Statistics Canada to the C.D. Howe Institute, shows that immigrants since 1980 are lagging far behind other Canadians over the past two decades.
“Studies show that these people are, at the start, earning less than their predecessors were earning. And actually less than Canadians,” Volpe told The Vancouver Sun.
“But within five years they do catch up and surpass them.”
Volpe's director of communications confirmed that assertion in an e-mail after the interviews.
“Studies show that immigrant outcomes are improving and that, on balance, immigrants are reaching, and in many cases surpassing, the income of the average Canadian within five years,” wrote Stephen Heckbert.
Two economists who specialize in immigration matters said Volpe is wrong, and added that they are concerned he is planning new immigration targets based on a misconception.
“If reports are correct that Minister Volpe claims immigrant incomes on average catch up with the average incomes of other Canadians within five years of their arrival, I am shocked about his ignorance or blatant distortion of facts,” Herb Grubel, author of the Fraser Institute report and a former Reform party MP, stated in an e-mail.
“The minister should re-examine his proposals for the 40-percent increase in the number of immigrants in the light of the true facts and the serious negative implications they have for Canada's taxpayers.”
Economist Christopher Worswick, who was hired by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to produce a 2002 report explaining why recent immigrants are struggling, said the “vast majority” of immigration experts would refute Volpe's statement.
Worswick, author of a report by the C.D. Howe Institute last year calling for Canada to resist expanding immigration numbers, said it takes far longer than five years for immigrants to catch up to the national average.
“That's a long way off, like 20 years, not five. And some studies say they don't catch up.”
Both the authors said the relatively poor performance of Canadian immigrants since 1980 isn't fully understood, though they cite the increased reliance on immigrants from countries like India and China.
The Fraser Institute report argues that Prime Minister Paul Martin and his ministers are misleading Canadians when they argue that Canada must sharply increase the influx of immigrants because of the relatively low Canadian birth rate.
Grubel maintains that post-1980 immigrants are a net drain on social programs, and calculates that the total cost of immigrants between 1990 and 2002 was $18 billion in 2003.