Immigration in Population Planning
A policy of national development, to which this Government is dedicated, necessarily involves population planning — or at least the development of basic concepts as to the quality, optimum size and rate of growth of the population. Population is affected by the birth rate, the mortality rate, the emigration rate and the immigration rate. All of these, except immigration, are relatively independent variables. For Canada, immigration is the most acceptable and most immediately effective means of population planning.
Canada’s Need for Immigrants
Canada requires a larger population. Aside from the material advantages to be gained, there is doubt that a small population can indefinitely claim exclusive rights of occupancy of Canada’s immense territory in the face of world population pressures. Nor can a small population resist indefinitely the more benign influences from the South. If Canada is to survive in the form most Canadians would wish, it is necessary to populate our land — but according to Canadian policies and interests, rather than from external pressures. It is difficult to persuade anyone to accept such realities without convincing them there are material advantages which will outweigh the initial disruptions which many feel are created by immigrants. The Government is fortunate that the economic advantages of immigration, both immediate and long-range, are so apparent.
Without going into detail, the most important of the traditional Canadian arguments in favour of sustained immigration are the following:
(i) A small population in a large country results in high per capita cost of government, transportation, communications, defence, etc.
(ii) Expansion of the domestic market encourages the attraction and/or development of units of production which cannot be based economically on a far-flung low-density market.
(iii) A larger consumer’s market in Canada could reduce this country’s dependence on imports and exports and consequently make it less sensitive to economic fluctuations in other countries.
(iv) New population stimulates economic, political, and social activity. It can be argued that the unusually large flow of immigrants in 1957 gave our economy a massive stimulation which may have prevented a graver and more prolonged recession.
Socially too, there is widespread belief that Canada requires a larger population base for support of a higher level of cultural independence and creativity.
During the five-year period 1955 to 1959, inclusive, only about 1.2 million young adults reached mature working age — this will increase to 1.3 million in 1960 to 1964 and jump to 1.7 million in 1965 to 1969. If the economy continues at its present rate of growth, i.e., to provide for new jobs for about 1.4 million workers (including immigrants) every five years, what will happen to the 300,000 young adults for whom jobs may not be available in 1965-69? Rejecting emigration (the remedy sought by countries such as Italy for the consequences of its 1930 high birth rate policies), there remains one acceptable solution — to force the rate of growth of the economy, particularly in the first half of the next decade, in order to enable the easy absorption of the anticipated surge into the labour force in 1965-69. For this purpose, it will be necessary to inject at least 350,000 immigrant workers into the labour force over the period 1960-64, as compared to 250,000 in the period 1965-69. Since only half of all immigrants are workers, and assuming a continued emigration in this period at the rate of 60,000 annually, this will result in a total net immigration of 700,000 in 1960-64 (a gross flow of one million), and 500,000 in 1965-69 (a gross flow of 800,000), or an average net inflow of 140,000 in 1960-64 (gross 200,000) and 100,000 in 1965-69 (gross 160,000).
Assuming that Canada requires a larger population and that immigration is the most acceptable means of bringing this about, assuming that immigration can be used to make short-term labour force adjustments — what rate of immigration is most desirable?
The easiest course of action is to continue the passive policies of the past, and as the economy creates vacancies for jobs which cannot be met internally, seek immigrant workers for such purposes. In terms of the present supply situation for immigrants, however, this approach is self-defeating; a passive attraction does not enable the administration to compete for immigrants.
The alternative is to operate on the premise that there are objectives to be met, and utilize immigration policy as one of the means of attaining the aims established by national policy. For example, if there are reasons why a population goal must be set (for example, the Prime Minister’s estimate in his speech of January 12, 1959, to the Convocation of the University of Toronto, that Canada’s population will reach 30 million in 1979, would require an annual gross immigration flow of about 1¼%) then immigration is the only acceptable forcing device to attain this objective. The immigration policy was used actively in past years of Canadian development, i.e., 1903-1914, when, to open up the Canadian West, immigration was allowed to reach an average of 225,000 annually — equivalent to 3 per cent of the population, reaching a peak in 1913 of over 400,000 or 5½ per cent of the population at that time.
Under such an active policy it might be argued that immigration should be encouraged to the maximum rate at which the economy has been able to absorb immigrants successfully in previous active periods. During the past decade, the immigrant absorption rate averaged one per cent of the population, although the annual inflow fluctuated considerably (i.e., from .54 per cent of the population in 1950 and .63 per cent in 1959, as high as 1.30 per cent in 1951 and 1.70 per cent in 1957). The present high level of current activity and national income would seem to indicate that the economy has absorbed the past inflow relatively successfully; in fact, it raises the question whether more immigrants could not have been absorbed in 1959. It should, therefore, be possible to base a long-range policy on the continuation of an average inflow of approximately one per cent. In any one year, depending upon the state of the economy of Canada and of the source countries, the gross immigration rate could range up to an upward figure of approximately 1.25 per cent in an active period of development or down to a minimum of .75 per cent in a less active period.
Frequent changes in policy decisions have resulted in arbitrary overall restrictions and expansions of immigration, which have become known as “turning the tap on and off.” The movement could be kept within the limits stated by counselling immigrants according to economic conditions in Canada.
Assuming annual gross immigration at an average of one per cent of the population, a natural increase of about 1.8 per cent, and an emigration rate of .4 per cent of the population annually, the population of Canada would grow at a rate of approximately 2.5% per annum, compounded, and the series can be projected as follows:
Year Population (Millions)
This falls short of the Prime Minister’s estimate of 30 million population by 1979; to achieve the Prime Minister’s estimate would require maintaining gross immigration at 1.25 per cent of the population annually, or an average yearly flow of 275,000 immigrants.
The range of gross immigration for each of the minimum average and maximum levels would be:
These control ranges are depicted in the chart which is attached as Appendix I.†
The Need for a Dynamic Policy and Programme
Since 1955 (except for the Suez and Hungarian crises which caused increases from mid-1956 to the end of 1957), Canada has experienced difficulty getting as many suitable migrants as could be absorbed by the Canadian economy. There seem to be two prime causes of this decline: First, the supply of immigrants is decreasing, largely because of the brightening economic climate in the United Kingdom and Europe, and second, Canadian timidity and vacillation in immigration policy and programming.
Canada has a natural advantage in competing for migrants — our proximity to Europe. We can compete for immigrants successfully either by changing our patterns of preference in migrants, i.e., accepting more from Southern and Eastern Europe, or by wooing prospective migrants carefully, convincing them of Canada’s desire for immigrants and our confidence in our own future. Certainly we can no longer afford to change immigration to meet every economic fluctuation, for migrants once discouraged cannot be picked up again later.
A dynamic and stable immigration policy may enable Canada to get the immigrants needed, at worst it may prevent immigration from declining beyond the present level of 40,000 (net) annually. Sources of immigrants which could be developed with consistent promotion are:
(i) The United Kingdom. There is a strong feeling in the U.K. that Canada has a boom or bust economy which is unsafe for migrants.
(ii) The Netherlands, which since World War II has maintained strong sentimental ties with Canada and was once a major source of immigrants. Vacillation of selection policies based on annual “tinkering” with the immigration programme has discouraged many would-be immigrants, even though the Netherlands has a stated policy of encouraging emigration in order to relieve population pressure.
(iii) Scandinavia and Germany could produce more migrants with maintained effort.
(iv) Belgium. With the potential loss of the Congo as the goal of the greater number of its immigrants, Belgium could be developed as a source of many desirable Canadian settlers.
(v) Spain and Portugal have a good potential for migration to Canada but must be handled carefully in view of governmental attempts in those countries to interfere in Canadian selection.
(vi) Italy and Greece present an almost unlimited supply, including many desirable migrants.
Careful selection from these sources requires development, planning, and long-range commitments.
During the first decade after World War II, Canada enjoyed a period of expansion and prosperity in which immigrants were needed in almost numberless volume. At the same time Europe overflowed with those eager to migrate. Immigration policy as stated in 1947 was “selective,” a cautious relation of abundant supply to almost limitless demand. The conditions which made such a simple policy acceptable have largely disappeared.
Immigration administration since this time consisted largely of adjusting the flow. Since the policy was not forward-looking or geared to any type of planning, there evolved from it a form of annual immigration programming consisting of a guess based on the previous year’s performance and the coming year’s prospects. This was about all the policy would permit and the result has been spasmodic (the “tap on and off” system). It is true that 1½ million immigrants came to Canada in this period but it can be argued they came here in spite of the efforts at immigration programming rather than because of them. In fact, Canadian labour shortages were so acute and Europe’s population pressure so great in this period that much of this flow of immigrants would have been difficult to prevent.
There are notable drawbacks to annual immigration programming. For instance: Difficulty is experienced in planning and maintaining the facilities, particularly in terms of trained staff, needed to carry out immigration programmes. Another instance: It usually takes a long time for anyone to decide to migrate and during this period he studies the economic climate in his intended country of residence (this was pointed out by the Netherlands’ Prime Minister during his visit to Canada) and an annual programme can only affect such a person adversely.
Assuming the need for immigrants and accepting the fact that Canada can safely absorb an immigration flow of from .75 per cent to 1.25 per cent of our population annually, the policy could be defined as follows:
(i) Immigration should be endorsed as the means to stated population goals.
(ii) The economic advantages and need for immigrants should then be clearly explained to Canadians in order to develop the receptive atmosphere which is desirable for larger immigration movements.
(iii) The flow can be adjusted within its limits of .75% to 1.25% of population but it should not be adjusted negatively at less than two-year intervals. If an immigrant, because of high immigrant flow or lack of opportunity in a specific occupation, is advised to postpone his migration until the following year, it is essential that the Canadian Government be prepared to back up any commitment which is made. In other words, any adjustment to the immigration programme of a negative character should be made at least one full year in advance of the time when it is to become effective. This will probably cause some immediate criticism in Canada and perhaps even result in some immigrants being assisted with public funds for longer periods during their initial stay in Canada, but unless this is accepted the entire concept of a positive immigration policy will collapse.
(iv) Movements of undesirable or unqualified immigrants should not be allowed to develop from some countries while suitable persons from those countries find it impossible to have their applications considered.
(v) The stabilization of immigration policy will permit the maintenance of a trained Immigration staff able to cope with reasonable problems and emergency situations.
The undersigned, therefore, recommends that the following be established as Canada’s national immigration policy:
(1) For economic, political and moral reasons, Canada must accept a substantial flow of immigrants.
(2) Immigration policy should aim at an average flow equal to one per cent of the Canadian population with annual movements of from .75 per cent to 1.25 per cent of the population. In terms of Canada’s present population, this would amount to an average annual immigration flow of 175,000 persons.
(3) Within these limits, immigration will be subject to regular review by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration but negative adjustment will not be effective within one year of the time decisions are reached.
(4) The Department of Citizenship and Immigration will be given the authority to proceed with a programme designed to bring to Canada suitable, desirable and adaptable immigrants who will be of economic benefit to Canada, who will be able to establish themselves in Canadian social, cultural, political and economic life without undue hardship to themselves or hardship and dislocation to the Canadian communities in which they will settle.