Here’s a question: what does it mean to be a good citizen? Chances are that if you were to walk down the street and ask people this question the common denominator would be “making a contribution.” Canadians pride themselves on many things and this pride is well known. So much so in fact that the simple act of sewing a maple leaf on your backpack while travelling is almost guaranteed to bring smiles from new friends.
For new Canadians, the process of immigration is an often confusing journey of paperwork, travel, and learning the ins and outs of a new culture. But once the nuances of the immigration process have been taken care of the one thing that all immigrants want to do more than anything else is contribute. It’s a common thread that binds people from across the globe together; the desire for self-improvement and the betterment of the society they live in. And it’s no different with new Canadians.
The demographics backup the statement: Canada is right up near the top of the list of countries with the highest immigration rates worldwide, and Canadian immigrants contribute significantly to Canada’s GDP. This is because bringing in more skilled workers from overseas results in a higher economic output for the country. To put it colloquially, the pie gets bigger and everyone gets a bigger slice of it in turn.
Another benefit of Canadian immigration that isn’t isn’t discussed nearly often enough is the impact that immigration has on Canada’s birth rate. Canada’s population is aging rapidly; for the first time in the history of the country there are more people over the age of 65 than there are under the age of 14. This means that as Canada’s baby boomers retire a significant vacuum is created in the workforce and Canadian immigrants are helping to fill it. Once settled comfortably, immigrants tend to put the wheels in motion to bring other family members with them. Once they’re settled too and ready to enter the workforce and start families, the country as a whole benefits. “Canada stands for something in the global community,” says Nevena Djuricic, Immigration Consultant and instructor at Ashton College. “What we do, bringing people here, it’s a wonderful thing.”
While certification problems still abound for new immigrants – many are employed below their education level due to certifications not transferring from their country of origin to Canada – Canada’s new immigrants still represent one of the highest educated demographics in the country. And with numerous programs and schools offering certification and degree upgrade programs for new immigrants, working below their level of qualification or experience is no longer as big an issue as it used to be.
Tragically, there is a dark side to the many benefits that new immigrants bring to Canada: resistance to immigration tends to correlate with downturns in economic conditions. This is partly fear and partly foolishness; the fear when times are tough that immigrants will somehow take away jobs from Canadians is not only false but potentially damaging to the economy. It’s foolish because when times are tough it becomes all the more important to create jobs to stimulate the economy. Canada’s baby boomers aren’t getting any younger and each year hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world journey here to make new lives for themselves and their families. Celebrate them, because they’re what makes this country great.