It is amusing becuase he is saying that a city whose population is half immigrant (and rising) and almost "visible minority majority", making it a strange place for most Canadians, has become unwelcoming to immigrants. It is frustrating becuase all the problems that has made Toronto "unwelcoming" is becuase of mass immigration yet he fails to acknowledge this choosing instead to engage in cognitive dissonance since immigration fact isn't gelling with immigration myth.
Toronto's welcome mat fraying
Oct 07, 2008 04:30 AM
It's not news that recent immigrants struggle to find their place in their adopted home. One would expect newcomers to be slow to acquire language, employment, cultural capital and social contacts that make one feel connected to a place.
But a new report, the annual checkup of Toronto's social, economic and environmental health called Vital Signs, suggests that those who arrived here in the past decade face more intransigent barriers than ever before, just at the time when many other countries are clamouring for the dwindling workforce this group represents.
What barriers is he talking about? He doesn't mention it in his commentary but let's think about that for a moment. Toronto, and the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is the most ethnically diverse it has ever been with some areas hosting such a heavy concentration of one ethnic group they are more akin to colonies then Canadian neighbourhoods. The private sector and especially the public sector have actively sought to reflect this diversity in their workplaces. With established ethnic communities in place (allowing one to live in Canada as if they never left the home country) coupled with preferential hiring for immigrants in some sectors of the labour market I say it has never been better for immigrants in the city of Toronto. So what exactly is he talking about?
As for "clamouring for the dwindling workforce this group represents", well that needs to be teased out. What group are "other countries" "clamouring" for? Are the unskilled relatives of sponsoring immigrants apart of this "group" "other countries" are "clamouring" for? How about the many unskilled immigrants who enter Canada as bogus refugees? How about the unskilled foreign temp workers who never leave or the ones who overstay their visas and go underground? Are "other countries" "clamouring" for the approximately 3/4 of all immigrants to Canada who enter the country purely for humanitarian reasons and thus are not even required to have any language skills to say nothing of pertinent job skills?
Prepared annually by the Toronto Community Foundation, this year's 10th edition says the unemployment rate for recent immigrants is nearly double that of native Canadians. Even long-time immigrants, here for up to 10 years, experience jobless rates 37 per cent higher than Canadian-born residents.
This may be causing a drag on the availability of immigrant workers for the Toronto region.
In 2001, Toronto was chosen by half the 250,638 immigrants to Canada. Our take has fallen steadily, to 36.8 per cent last year.
This does not appear to be a function of fewer immigrants coming to Canada, though the overall numbers dropped by 15,000 last year. Arrivals in 2001 were roughly the same as in 2006, for example: about 250,000. Yet, Toronto received only 99,293 two years ago, compared to 125,178 in 2001.
Perhaps Toronto proper received only 99,293 immigrants but if the GTA is included the region still attracts roughly 40-50% of all immigrants to Canada.
"In the 1980s it took immigrants eight years to achieve income parity," says Rahul Bhardwaj, president and CEO of the foundation. "In the last decade, it took 12 years. (That's) 50 per cent longer ... Recent immigrants are hired half as often and get half the salary."
Some projections predict that by 2011 all net growth to the labour force will consist of immigrants. Whereas Canada traditionally had an unlimited supply of skilled people emigrating here, all G7 countries now face declining birth rates and have a huge appetite for new workers. Global competition for the skilled is growing at precisely the time that Canada is scoring less strongly as a good place to settle.
"In Canada, if immigrants are critical to our economic and social health, we have to replenish our stock. But has the last 10 years in this city given any indication that it would be worth their while to come here?" says Bhardwaj.
What the above fails to take into consideration is the character of the global labour market. It is quite possible to outsource many jobs now which also includes white-collar work. Engineering, architectural, IT, even some medical tasks can be outsourced to competent workers in India or China at a fraction of the cost of a North American labourer yet these are much of the workers Canada is importing. The West is as quickly outsourcing much of the work it is "clamouring" for. That is why much of the projected job growth are jobs that cannot be sent overseas. These include transportation drivers, retail sales staff, construction, fast food workers and hotel staff, nursing, anything that cannot be sent abroad but can only be done locally. There may be a shortage of nurses but there is also a shortage of minimum wage workers and the later is where many immigrants to Canada end up being regardless of their credentials.
It is also necessary to point out the performance of immigrants who arrived in the 1980s and beyond. In the 1980s Canada accepted fewer immigrants, 100,000+ fewer in fact, and it was tied to Canada's expected future economic performance. It was in 1988 that the inept Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney not only upped the intake by 100,000 in one fell swoop but estranged it from Canada's economic needs. It should be little wonder then as to why post 1990 immigrants are doing so poorly compared to previous cohorts. We flooded the labour market.
Some immigration is necessary but too much is not and that is the problem: Canada accepts too many immigrants and has been doing so for too long. If Royson James can bother himself to realize that perhaps mass immigration has saturated Toronto with superfluous labour, making it difficult for immigrant and Canadian, then perhaps it will all make sense to him. He will see why immigrants and Canadians are struggling, why poverty and crime is on the rise in many immigrant heavy neighbourhoods, and why post 1990 immigrants are fairing so bad. It's the numbers.
But alas he leaves us with these concluding words:
Immigrants have been a blessing to Toronto. Keep this relationship blooming.
If he means increases in traffic congestion and the threat of toll roads to tackle it; the idling traffic and the increases of pollution as a result of it; rapid population increases fueling urban sprawl and the loss of fertile arable land and green spaces; social divisions, ethnic rivalries and ghettoizing effects; an increase in the production of garbage and what to do with it; rising crime and poverty rates; loss of Canadian public spaces making Canadians feel like strangers in their own land; racial hiring quotas that discriminate against Canadians all in the name of diversity; the downward pressure on wages and salaries; etc, etc, etc; that these are blessings then I guess immigration is a good thing so keep it coming. I know I am focusing on the negative here but these must be weighed against the positive which is constantly paraded in public discourse as if there are no negative effects associated with mass immigration. And I think the negatives now outweigh the positives. Funny thing is, it wasn't like that before and it shouldn't be like that at all.
If we really want to get serious about helping immigrants then we must ask ourselves if Canada is accepting too many immigrants. The answer is obviously yes. If Toronto's welcome mat is indeed fraying it's becuase of mass immigration. Too much of something can ruin a good thing.
The comments to the piece are interesting. It seems the readers know more about the situation than Mr. James.