Expert Urges Canada To Find Ways To Make Immigrants More Productive

Report Says Two-Step Canada Immigrants Earn More Than One-Step Newcomers
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Canada needs to make sure that immigrants are contributing to not only GDP growth, but also to GDP per capita growth, AIMCo Chair and former CPPIB CEO Mark Wiseman has said.

In sharing his economic outlook for 2024 with Bloomberg, Wiseman said that “I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet, particularly in this country.”

“There continues to be strong growth in the US, apparently with lower inflation, at least for the time being. So that’s a good signal.

“Canada – we’re behind.

“The productivity gap continues in this country, doesn’t seem to be abating, and I think slower Canadian growth relative to our brother in the South is going to be a continuing problem for the Canadian economy.”

According to him, Canadian productivity – which is reflected in GDP per capita, income, and Canadians’ wealth – is 27 percent lower than that in the US.

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A multitude of issues that cause lower productivity in Canada thus need to be addressed. According to Wiseman, Canada needs two things – it needs to “double down” on its comparative advantages, and it needs a higher degree of competition, both within Canada and with the rest of the world.

Immigration is one of Canada’s greatest comparative advantages in the form of human capital. However, that human capital needs to become more productive.

This, he posits, can be achieved through a few means. Firstly, people need to be educated for the “jobs of the future.” This spans jobs in a variety of sectors, with a special focus on tech – especially artificial intelligence.

Secondly, people need to be allowed to freely work across provinces, with little to no barriers to employment or barriers to trade across the country.

Thirdly, it needs to be ensured that Canadian companies are spending on both physical and human capital in continuous improvement.

The immigrants coming to Canada, he added, are positively adding to the economy, and it needs to be ensured that they are contributing positively to not only GDP, but also GDP per capita, which is defined as a country’s total gross domestic output divided by its total population.

Immigrants do jobs that many Canadians do not want to do, and it needs to be ensured that they are productive, said Wiseman.

It needs to be ensured that students to Canada are actually studying and intend to stay productively.

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The statistics are positive, but it should not be the case that immigrants are solely used as cheap labor to replace capital productivity improvements in Canada. If this is not achieved, Canada is going to become relatively poorer in comparison to other countries, especially the United States.

“We have to fight against complacency. We have to benchmark ourselves to a higher standard. And I think that there is no higher standard, and no better standard, than the United States,” concluded Wiseman.

“And so, we need to be asking ourselves, ‘are our businesses as competitive as similar businesses in the US?’ Are our workers as productive as similar workers in the United States? Are our companies spending on research and development and innovation at the same level as their American counterparts?’ And if the answer to those questions is no, what’s going to happen is that at a relative scale, Canadians are going to become poorer and poorer next to their cousins in the United States.”

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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.