As media report on our government’s immigration strategy, the reports are met with some horribly misguided and negative comments about immigrants “stealing our jobs.” Immigrants are not stealing your jobs. They’re saving your economy; nationally and on the provincial level.
Countries worldwide have immigration strategies similar to Canada’s, or Newfoundland’s, because most developed countries are facing the same population problem: for the first time in our lives, there are more people retiring than there are people entering the workforce. Welcoming immigrants to our province, to fill in gaps in our workforce, and add more money to the tax pot that pays for our doctors and roads and so on, is a perfectly logical solution to our population problem, and something worth investing in.
Leaving comments under CBC or Telegram articles about immigrants stealing jobs is a horrible way to welcome people to our supposedly friendly province. It’s cringe-worthy ignorance, and it’s devoid of the facts. Our province has the most rapidly aging population in Canada, and that’s exasperated by high rates of youth outmigration, and the fact that today’s parents are having fewer children. Our government did the research, and stated that in order for this province to sustain its current population, it must have a fertility rate of 2.1. It doesn’t. At 1.45, our fertility rate is lower than the national average.
Newfoundland & Labrador’s population is decreasing and aging at the same time, and in a commendable act of proactive and progressive problem solving, our government has developed an immigration strategy to address this issue. MUN’s Leslie Harris Centre for Regional Policy and Development released a report this September entitled “Regional Population Projections for NL 2016-2036” which overtly states in its opening paragraph that without intervention, our troublesome population dynamics “will have a drastic impact on the economy, governance, and overall quality of life for the people of the province.”
Our current population is 519,888, and one projection model the Harris Centre used predicts a significant plummet to 467,767 by 2036. Another model says 479,907. No rate of Newfoundlanders having kids who stay in Newfoundland will correct and even out that loss of population, and that loss of working-age tax payers who fund our provincial services.
Our government has a population growth strategy in place. One document that lays it out is entitled, Live Here Work Here Belong Here: A Population Growth Strategy for Newfoundland and Labrador 2015-2025. A major strategy it lays out is to “position our province as a home of choice for people around the world.” The strategy was formulated through consultations with individuals, community organizations, businesses, and various stakeholders, with public consultations during fall 2013.
Our country has been using immigration to address its population problem for well over a decade. Since 2001, only one-third of Canada’s population growth has been attributed to resident Canadians having children; the other two thirds has been from immigration. Our country is all the better for it. In society, as in nature, only a diverse community is a healthy one. Immigrants bring everything from new political ideas, innovative business insights, and tasty cuisine to our doors.
Most people reading this were alive and well in 1990, so, in our lifetime we have seen a shift from 2 people entering the labour market for every 1 person leaving it, to more people leaving the labour market than entering it. It’s going to wreak havoc on our economy, communities, and social programs, unless we address it.
To get there, we need to welcome newcomers, make this an attractive place for them to stay, work, and raise families. It’s to no one’s advantage to leave contemptuous, often racist comments below local news articles that are meant to inform us about our province’s necessary immigration strategies, and our government’s well considered attempts at making Newfoundland a competitive place for immigrants to lay down roots.
Get onboard. Government has issued a strong call to action for local citizens, employers, and municipal governments to help make this a better place to live and work from current residents and new Canadians. Addressing our population problem is not something government can do in isolation, nor something it can do very well on its own, given our current economic situation.