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Why immigrants will save Canada from the COVID-19 recession

Updated: Sep 10, 2020


Immigrants make Canada richer. And I don’t mean it figuratively, as culturally or intellectually richer, I mean it literally: immigrants directly inject money into our Canadian economy. And as such, they will play an important part in helping the Canadian economy recover quickly from the COVID-19 recession.

The classic fear of immigrants during an economic crisis is that they “come here and steal jobs from Canadians”. This belief is, at best, a reflection of a poor understanding of how the Canadian Immigration system works, and at worst, a blunt portrayal of racism. Assuming most Canadians who suspect immigrants steal their jobs belong to the former category, allow me to shed some light on our immigration system to explain how immigrants actually create and maintain jobs for Canadians by supporting our economy.

The immigration system is primarily based on elaborating a structure that makes Canada a more competitive global economy while also protecting the local labour market. Essentially, the system can be divided into 3 categories: economic immigrants (57%), family sponsorship (27%) and refugees/humanitarian applications (16%).  As you can see, the majority of immigrants are “economic” which is a category based on the newcomers’ ability to directly contribute to our economy. These numbers only refer to permanent residents and do not include other major groups who contribute greatly to our economy: international students and business investors, which I will discuss below.

Source: The Immigration plan for 2020-2022 issued on March 12th 2020.

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, let’s mention some specific examples of immigrants who have a direct positive impact at enriching our economy:

Economic immigrants (skilled workers)

These immigrants usually receive PR status while abroad, based on their professional profile and language skills. Before coming to Canada, they must show they have savings ranging from $13 000 for a single person to $34 000 for a family of 7. These savings are considered settlement funds to be spent upon arriving in Canada to rent a home, buy a car, new clothes, furniture, telecom services, utilities, entertainment, etc. The Canadian government has as a goal to welcome 610,900 economic immigrants between 2020 and 2022. To get a notion of how much money these immigrants will bring to our country, let’s assume they were all single, each bringing $13 000 in savings. This would mean a potential direct cash injection of almost 8 billion dollars in our Canadian markets during the next 3 years.

International students

Canada welcomes international students every year at all levels of education. “In 2018, international students in Canada contributed an estimated $21.6 billion to Canada’s GDP and supported almost 170,000 jobs for Canada’s middle class.” According to Honorable James Gordon Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification.

International students pay very high tuition fees (three times the cost for Canadians or PRs), oftentimes between $20 000 to $200 000 in the span of 1 to 4 years, depending on the program of study. In addition, they bring savings from aboard to spend on their housing, food, transportation and entertainment. The government has an ambitious plan to attract more than 450,000 international students by 2022, expecting to create and sustain a total o 173,100 new jobs in Canada and generate $910 million in new tax revenues. See Reference.

Business Investors

By far, business investors are the group that bring the most direct economic benefits to our local communities. The Canadian Immigration system does not reward foreign investors who purchase housing real estate. However, it does reward foreign investors who purchase existing businesses or start new businesses in Canada. One single foreign investor can have a tremendous impact on a local economy through purchasing a business from Canadian owners and contribute to their retirement funds, retain and create new jobs for the employees of that business, maintain an active supply chain within their industry, and contribute to the preservation of lively and dynamic neighbourhoods. This group of immigrants also help our economy be more competitive in innovation, technology, and culture as they invest in Canadian start-up projects or start their own endeavors.During a COVID-19 recession, they will be particularly cherished by the government since they will be paying corporate taxes, payroll taxes, and GST/PST taxes. Unfortunately, some Canadian-owned businesses won’t make it through this recession, and therefore create a void in our economy and labour market. Fortunately, foreign investors will gladly purchase these businesses to revive them and protect the downfall of several Canadian communities who are dependent on small to medium enterprises. They make an immense positive contribution for our local economies and for our government’s budget.

Agricultural and food processing foreign workers

These foreign workers (mainly men) leave their families for an average of 8 months every year to come farm and harvest our lands and process the food we eat or export. While many Canadians have recently lost their jobs and filed for government support, not many have knocked on the doors of farms and food processing factories to get a job. On the contrary, on March 27th 2020, the government issued exemptions to the COVID-19 travel ban to enable foreign agricultural and food processing workers to come to Canada and work. We desperately need this labour force to take care of our food production industry. Canadians can safely remain in their homes, while these foreign workers ensure the isles at the local grocery stores will remain abundantly stacked.

Thankfully for our country, our current minister of immigration, Honorable Marco E.L. Mendicino announced an increase in immigration targets on March 12th 2020. This is good news for everyone.

Naturally, it is my duty as an immigration consultant to represent and defend the interests of my clientele, but my goal is also to show all Canadians that our country has much to gain from immigration, especially during an economic crisis.

Please share this article with all your Canadian friends so they can rest assured that we can count on our immigrants to help us get through this recession!

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