Canada’s immigration ministry should start behaving like an HR department — not an open-invitation dinner party

Diane Francis: People should be given entry if they fill a job that a Canadian cannot perform

The United States and Canada have built their economies by accepting millions of immigrants for centuries. Interestingly, polls in the U.S. show support is holding while those in Canada reveal that 63 per cent of Canadianswant to limit immigration levels.

The difference is perplexing, especially since Canada doesn’t have more than 12 million undocumented migrants sneaking in, or applying for asylum, as does the U.S. But the facts are that — proportionate to our population — we have very high levels and a government that in 2017 set an arbitrary goal of bringing in 1 million over three years by 2020, or around 330,000 annually, instead of around 230,000 a year.

For starters, the setting of a static immigration goal for one or three years is foolish in and of itself. Migration should vary and be based, for the most part, on the need for unskilled or specialty labour as well as economic conditions.

Frankly, this one million — half of whom are family immigrants and not economically free-standing immigrants — is unsustainable. Equivalent to the population of both Ottawa and Edmonton, that’s a lot of health care, educational costs, infrastructure pressure, and housing shortages.

But the Liberals are undaunted. Trudeau’s Immigration Minister rebutted to polling results that immigration is not a “zero sum” situation and that more money (read tax dollars) will be invested in these areas for these newcomers. This is the argument of a trust-fund kid.

The Liberals claim that the huge increase in immigration is required to fill skills shortages. But nearly half of those admitted won’t be working, perhaps ever, and wouldn’t qualify to be admitted as economic immigrants with skills. Besides, this old chestnut of an excuse has been trotted out repeatedly forever and yet shortages persist.

The Liberals also add that more immigration is needed to boost the size of the country’s population overall. But the vast majority of new entrants will end up crowding into a handful of already-crowded cities.

Canada’s immigration department should return to behaving like the Human Resources Department of the country. People should be given entry if they fill a job that a Canadian cannot perform. Instead, the Liberals are like an HR Department that recruits people then hopes they find jobs or match those already posted.

A small percentage of humanitarian immigration is also required of rich countries, but should only recruit people living in refugee camps with bona fide need. Not those who merely say so.