Immigrants make up a considerable proportion of the Canadian population. At the time of the 1991 Census, there were 4. 3 million immigrants living in Canada, which is 16% of the total Canadian population. (See Graph 1, Immigrants as a Percentage of Canada's Population, 1901-1996) Over the past decades the level of immigration in Canada has increased from an average of 137 000 immigrants arriving in Canada in the 1960s to an average of about 200 000 in 1998. See Table1, Annual Immigration Plan 1998)
The largest share of immigrants admitted into Canada are in the economic class, in 1994, close to half of the new immigrants coming to Canada were economic class immigrants. Immigration is needed to maintain the Canadian population; "Canada will be an aging society with such a low birth rate that it will soon be unable to sustain its population without sustained immigration. " Immigrants are a source of labour to the Canadian economy; immigrants are as likely as people born in Canada to be employed, and many are skilled workers that the Canadian economy is in need of.
Business class, investor and entrepreneur immigrant help to provide job opportunities in the economy, and also generate more economic activities and income for the Canadian economy. "Analysis of data from the household/family file of the 1981 Canadian Census of Population reveals that, regardless of origin, immigrants benefit the Canadian-born population through the public treasury. " Immigrants are an aid to the Canadian economy as a result of its ability to sustain the aging population, to provide labour, and job opportunities.
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Rising Immigration Rate of Canada
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Firstly, Canada, like other rich countries of the world, will become an aging society with such a low birth rate; Canada will soon be unable to maintain its population without taking in immigrants. The low birth rate will soon lead to a shortage of future workers for the labour force. As we enter into the twenty-first century, there will be more older people requiring pensions, and in need of extra health care, but there will not be enough young workers entering the job market to support these needs.
The fertility rate in Canada is roughly 1. 66, which is below the replacement rate of 2. and less than half the fertility rate of 3. 63 during the baby boom. Despite the number of children is currently growing because the large number of baby boomers are having children, "this so-called echo effect will have run its course by the early part of the next century so that, in the absence of much higher immigration, Canada's population will begin to decline. " According to Statistics Canada, the Canadian population will stabilize at 31 million in 2026 if the fertility rate of 1. 66 is maintained and 140 000 immigrants are accepted per year, and it will then begin to decline.
If the rate of immigration is raised to 200 000 per year, the population will stabilize in 2035, at 34 million, before it begins to decline. The immigrant population is older, on average, than the Canadian-born population because immigrants tend to arrive in their prime working years. Also, it must be noted that children born to immigrants are included in the Canadian-born population rather than the immigrant population. Secondly, of all immigrants accepted into Canada, close to 50% are in the economic class consisting of business immigrants and skilled workers. See Table 2, Immigration Levels, 1998 Canada, Quebec* and Other Provinces)
Most immigrants tend to arrive in their prime working years. Immigrants living in Canada are more likely than people born in Canada to have a university degree, in 1991, 14% of immigrants aged 15 and over had a university degree, while only 11% of people born in Canada had a university degree. Immigrants with post-secondary qualifications are more likely than those born in Canada with post-secondary qualifications to be graduates of professional programs in engineering, mathematics, and applied science.
See Graph 2, Economic Category Persons Admitted, 1994-1996) For example, in 1991, 17% of immigrant men were graduates of these programs, where there were only 9% of Canadian-born men were graduates of these programs. Immigrants are also more likely than people born in Canada to have full-time, full-year jobs. In 1991, 63% of employed immigrant men and 50% of employed immigrant women worked at full-time, full-year jobs, compared to 59% of Canadian-born men, and 45% of Canadian-born women.
According to Employment and Immigration Canada, in 1989-95 the fastest growing occupations include computer programmers and system analysts, data processing equipment operators, and technical salespersons, as well as occupations in health care. But fact is that Canada does not have enough skilled workers to work in these fields, therefore Canada must import workers skilled in these fields, and immigration is the best way to import these workers. There is a higher percentage of immigrant men working in professional or management occupations then Canadian-born men.
In 1991, 32% of immigrant men worked in these fields, while only 27% of Canadian-born men worked in these fields. (See Table 4, Comparison of Employment between Immigrant and Canadian-Born Workers) Canada, like other industrial countries will be facing a shortage in skilled workers; Canada will have to open its borders to increased immigration by foreign workers, especially workers with education and skills. "In fact, industrial countries could find themselves competing for certain types of foreign workers. "
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