I always thought it would be interesting to research and write an academic article about the correlation between waves of immigration and economic cycles. Maybe when I am retired and my children are grown I’ll actually find the time to make this dream come true. Most business people probably know the final result of this research. For the sake of immigration policy, and our unemployment rates, it would be helpful to prove and formalize what I see as an existential truth: Immigration drives economic growth.
After watching the Conservative government in Canada unfold its “Canadians First” policy over the past several years, I even more firmly believe that immigration is the key to revitalizing a slow economy. The Conservative government’s “Canadians First” policy sought to ensure that Canadians were first considered for employment positions in Canada, with the intent of reducing unemployment. This decision seemed to be based on the premise that employers don’t want to hire Canadians, and the myth that foreign workers cost less. The response I observed from employers is that they would much prefer to hire locally because relocating individuals from abroad is much more expensive.
The reality is that employers seek foreign workers to obtain new skill sets and to stimulate business growth in emerging markets. This results in increased employment opportunities for Canadians. Unfortunately, the result of the “Canadians First” policy deterred business development as employers found it too difficult to obtain the skill sets they needed from abroad to build their businesses. The result was these businesses were either established elsewhere or never started. In my opinion the Conservative policy has further damaged the Canadian economy as opposed to reducing unemployment as intended.
As we see the new Liberal government rise to the current economic challenges in Canada, I am hopeful that our government will acknowledge the importance of immigration in establishing a healthy and growing economy.