Vive Le Canada

Immigrants `heavy burden' on taxpayers
Date: Thursday, October 06 2005
Topic:


Immigrants `heavy burden' on taxpayers
Canada should be pickier in choosing newcomers, Fraser Institute says

Only foreigners with job offers should be allowed to enter, report urges

BRUCE CAMPION-SMITH
OTTAWA BUREAU

OTTAWA—Immigration Minister Joe Volpe is dismissing a report that says new immigrants are a burden on taxpayers and lower the standard of living in Canadian society.

Big cities like Toronto and Vancouver — which consistently rate high in quality of life rankings — owe their success to the influx of immigrants over the years, Volpe said.

"Canada is replete with successes on the immigration front," he said.

In a report released yesterday, the Fraser Institute, a right-wing think tank, urged a dramatic overhaul of the way Ottawa selects immigrants to better pick the cream of the crop who can give an economic boost to Canada.

With Canada poised to dramatically increase immigration rates, sudden increases in newcomers will hurt their chances of succeeding in their new country, says the report written by Herbert Grubel, a professor of economics at Simon Fraser University and a senior fellow at the institute.

The institute argues that only foreigners who had job offers in "specified occupations" should be allowed to enter the country for extended periods and then only on temporary work visas.

The work visas would be renewable and after four years could lead to permanent immigration status.

However, people who lost their jobs would be deported if they couldn't find another job within three months, says the 61-page report prepared by Grubel.

The recent "over-supply" of immigrants has produced the need "to select only immigrants who can be expected to make a positive economic contribution and who are not likely to impose burdens on Canadian taxpayers," Grubel writes.

The paper argues that the current selection system is badly flawed because a large number of immigrants bypass the criteria meant to allow only financially successful newcomers into Canada.

"Those bypassing the screens include large numbers of family members and refugees, many of whom have low earnings capacity," Grubel writes.

As a result, he says recent immigrants have imposed a "heavy burden on Canadian taxpayers" by not paying their fair share of income taxes while drawing on social services such as health care and education.

"The low taxes paid by a large number of immigrants and the cost of the social benefits they consume represent a fiscal burden on Canadian taxpayers and lowers their living standards," the study concludes.

"As a result, there exists a conflict between liberal immigration policies and the viability of the welfare state," Grubel says, adding that opening the doors to immigrants will make it difficult to eliminate poverty.

While Grubel will find himself at odds with immigration boosters, he does highlight the frustration of well-qualified immigrants unable to find work in their fields. And he emphasizes a critical point — the declining incomes of recent immigrants, compared to native-born Canadians.

Still, Volpe dismissed the Fraser Institute as a "Conservative think tank." "There doesn't seem to be an immigrant that they've seen that they wouldn't send back," Volpe said.

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