Immigration Must Suit New Brunswick’s Needs

Immigration Must Suit New Brunswick's Needs

Jo-Ann Fellows
The Telegraph Journal (A7)
Published Monday October 19th, 2009
14 Comment(s)

A few years ago, it was discovered that the number of people living in New Brunswick would not continue to grow, given current rates of birth and death. We would not have enough babies born to equal or surpass the number of deaths in a given year, and therefore our population would decline year by year. And, indeed, this is just what happened. In 2000, the population of New Brunswick was 750,517, and in 2008, there were 747,302 people living in the province.

Governments of the day got very excited about this situation. They immediately decided that we must have increased immigration to get a bigger population. Where is it written that the population of New Brunswick should always grow bigger?

World-wide, we are going through a huge expansion of population. This explosion has been described as “spectacular and unprecedented” and was the media flavour of the day for a few months, before something else caught the attention of the chattering classes. There are 80 million people being added to the earth's population each year. This results in tremendous pressure being brought to bear on the world's resources, its wildlife and habitat, and the atmosphere. Population growth is certainly one of the drivers of climate change. In 1900, the earth contained 1.65 billion people. By 2009, the estimate is that we will have 6.785 billion, and by 2040, the world will contain 9 billion people. Globally, we now have three times the population that we had in 1939.

On the other hand, rates of growth have declined in most industrial nations. Japan began to have a reduced population in 2005. Eastern Europe is about to have its population decline. South Africa will have fewer people as a result of the deaths caused by HIV/AIDS.

Poverty produces a vicious circle when it comes to population growth. Poor countries have higher birth rates, and the resulting population growth contributes to maintaining poverty. Thus, the populations of third world nations continue to expand, and that of industrial nations shows a tendency to reduced growth or decline. The United States remains an exception with continued population growth because of the poverty in that country.

So the New Brunswick government is concerned about maintaining population growth, and they have beefed up the bureaucracy dedicated to increasing immigration in order to achieve a larger population.

Economically, I don't think that simply attracting immigrants to this province will result in an improved economy. A landmark study, produced in 1991 by the Economic Council of Canada, concluded that immigration had little or no effect on economic progress.

In 2008, a study by Herb Grudel of Simon Fraser University, entitled The Fiscal Burden of Recent Canadian Immigrants, determined that in 2002 the costs in benefits and services received by the 2.5 million immigrants who had arrived between 1990 and 2002 exceeded the taxes that they paid by $18.3 billion. In other words, in the short term, immigrants are a net loss in financial terms.

James Bissett, formerly head of the Canadian Immigration Service, mentioned these studies in a recent letter to The Globe and Mail. His conclusion was that Canada should spend more on improving the skills of our own population, rather than expect immigrants to be a quick fix for our economic problems.

Although we talk about a point system to bring highly skilled immigrants, in fact a third of the 250,000 people entering Canada each year are family-class immigrants. Probably, upwards of half of all immigrants are relatives of those already here.

New Brunswick is a small province with a marginal economy, and it is still dependent on resource extraction. We chronically have an unemployment rate that is above the national average. The province needs to be realistic in its attempt to attract immigrants. Many come here, and then go elsewhere in Canada.

This province needs a lean, highly efficient civil service, reduced tax rates, and a tendency to get out of the way of the private sector. Streamline regulations while keeping the population safe. If the province is well run and taxes can be reduced, and if we can strongly encourage the professional and trade organizations to recognize qualifications that immigrants have acquired elsewhere, then we have half a chance of keeping good people here.

In turn, immigrants need to accommodate community values that they find here and make an effort to integrate themselves into our society. It's a two-way street. I am not talking about abandoning the ethnic origins of recent immigrants, but in their accommodating Canadian values. My favourite immigrants to Canada remain the Icelanders who came here at the beginning of the last century. After a volcano blew up their small island, they decided as a community to come to Canada, where they settled around Gimli, Manitoba. Before they came, they organized classes in English and in the political structure and values of their new country.

The size of New Brunswick's population is not a sports competition. We don't need to have a higher score each year. We should make sensible decisions in determining our immigration policy.

Jo-Ann Fellows is a writer living in Fredericton. Her columns on seniors' concerns and on public policy issues appear twice a month on Mondays.


Comments (14)

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Showing comments 1 – 10 of 14.
We need them to replace older workers and contribute to our safety net. At the rate we are going my grandchildren will have a difficult time funding this province almost forty percent of our budget comes from the feds. Quess what, they are not going to fund 75%

John Campbell, Saint John on 19/10/09 06:34:57 AM ADT

John, I think you've been sucked in by the political spin doctors. The equation isn't as simple as you picture it. I'd suggest you read this excellent article again because the author backs up her thinking with references, numbers and common sense.

. MCLAUGHLIN, Quispamsis on 19/10/09 09:44:18 AM ADT


“My favourite immigrants”??? I wonder who her “least favourite immigrants” are?

Lincoln Darwin, Hartland on 19/10/09 11:25:18 AM ADT


Well Lincoln, I can volunteer to give you my list.
– How about those who occupy Parliament Hill for a week chanting that Canada must do something to stop the war in “their country.” And march their children onto the Gardner Expressway to shut it down?
– How about those who band together in ethnic enclaves and never learn English or French, patronize only their own ethnic businesses, and maintain their own ethnic radio, tv and print media?
– How about those who never allow their children to associate with white Canadians?
– How about those who you will never, ever see in a Canadian Forces uniform?
– How about those dedicated to imposing Sharia law on all of Canada?

I could go on. We need candid, forthright talk on immigration, not inane Trudeaupian mush “multiculturalism.”

Check for some perspective.
If taxpayers can't pay my pension, too bad for me. Better to keep our country intact than to destroy it to pay for boomer retirements.

Iona Jalopy, Quispamsis on 19/10/09 12:15:19 PM ADT


I think the author spelled out quite clearly what she preferred; people who wanted to respect and adapt to their host country. It's sad that we can't talk realistically about immigration w/o somebody always playing the race card.

Consider who does benefit from immigration: those businesses who want cheap labor and those politicians who see votes and aren't above playing the race card at every opportunity. Notice right now the Liberals are proposing that any new Cdn gets the OAP in just 5 years and we're suppose to worry about supporting an aging pop?

If the threat was real, the country should be going for a national pension plan that would support people at retirement,and not rely on aging immigrants or even robbing 3rd world countries of their trained people. Surely a wealthy country like Canada can train its own people and prepare to handle its seniors. When our unuemployment hits 3% perhaps there might be a need for more workers
Iona has it all figured out.

. MCLAUGHLIN, Quispamsis on 19/10/09 01:59:31 PM ADT


I just went to the site suggested by Iona and it was very interesting.
I'd suggest anybody thinking they knew anything about our current immigration policies go for a look…but I know they won't. They never want to get confused by facts because they have faith.

. MCLAUGHLIN, Quispamsis on 19/10/09 02:10:46 PM ADT


I have some favourites too. The Koreans and Dutch, for two. They share our values and have never forgotten that Canadians died to save their countries from totalitarianism. Good people.

Iona Jalopy, Quispamsis on 19/10/09 02:20:18 PM ADT


“You don't know what you got until its gone,”

Can the time be far away when we'll be wishing we had paid more attention to the words of this old song?

MCLAUGHLIN, Quispamsis on 19/10/09 04:15:17 PM ADT


Iona Jalopy, be ready for a heart attack. In less than ten years people of colour will be in majority in US. Same is going to happen in Canada. May be you should move to Iceland.

Joel M, New Maryland on 19/10/09 05:19:16 PM ADT


We should be speaking in terms of having a “age demographics” problem rather than a “population problem”. I don't care about the issues of global population growth that this article takes up. What we need to address in New Brunswick is our aging population. We are meeting a near-future where most of us will be elderly and unable, on fixed incomes, to pay the rates of taxation required to provide services we need. Moreso, many of us will be unable to climb hydro poles in midwinter to restore power to homes when we are in our late 60's anf 70's. We need young people!

I think this article misses and confuses the point entirely, especially useing global population growth and problems particular with that issue as an attempt to dismiss the need for immigration of younger people in a aging province such as ours. Problems do exist in our current immigration policies, but these problems do not mean we don't need immigration, they only mean our policies toward immigration need to change.

Wally mann, Quispamsis on 19/10/09 05:21:03 PM ADT