June 23rd, 2024

Immigrants key part of Canadian economy


By Dale Woodard on June 18, 2021.

Immigrants and refugees are a key part of Canada’s economy and are integral in off-setting skill shortage.
Najib Mangal, the manager of Community Connections and Employment programs at Immigrant Services of Lethbridge Family Services, was the guest speaker at the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs Thursday morning. 
An accredited settlement practitioner with 15 years of experience in settlement and integration of newcomers into Lethbridge, Mangal addressed the issue of immigration matters, why Canada supports immigration and also touched upon the refugee system in Canada.
In October 2020, the Federal Government announced its 2021-2022 Immigration Level Plan with the government hoping to bring a targeted 1.2 million immigrants into the country to help the Canadian economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and drive future growth.
“We welcome between 300,000 and 350,000 newcomers every year and the primary focus is federal skilled workers and business class,” said Mangal, who graduated with a degree in information technology in 2006 from Lethbridge College and recently completed his Immigration Consultancy program through the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultancy. “These are individuals who are contributing to the economy and the growth of our country.”
Among the federal skilled workers and business class immigrants are provincial nominees and refugees.
“Which is a small amount of newcomers from those 300,000,” said Mangal. “Being in this sector for years, I get this question a lot. We are asked ‘Do immigrants add value to the economy or are they a burden on our society when they join?'”
As a founding member of the U.N. Mangal said Canada has an obligation to assist refugees.
“Our Minister of Immigration put it in the best perspective when he said ‘Our government believes newcomers play a vital role in our society. Five million Canadians are set to retire by 2035 and we have fewer people working to support the seniors who are retiring.’ That’s why immigrants and refugees are coming. It’s not the only reason, but it’s one of the reasons, to offset the aging demographics.”
Mangal said in 1971 Statistics Canada showed there were 6.6 people of working age for each senior. 
“In 2012, that ratio has gone to 4.2 to one and by 2036 that is going to go to two-to-one,” he said. “If we are not producing enough population, how do we offset that? Almost 100 per cent of the population growth will be the result of immigration. It stands at this time that about 75 per cent of our population growth happens because of immigration.
“Immigration is a great tool for economic growth, skill shortage, labour market challenges and demographic challenges. We are a land of immigrants. Immigration is not new and we’re not new to immigration, either.”
Mangal touched on refugee numbers from six years ago.
“At the end of 2015 the number of refugees reached 65.3 million or one out of every 13 people on earth. That’s almost twice the population of Canada,” he said.
Mangal said of those, Canada receives 25,000 refugees every year.
“Of those 25,000, 7,500 of those refugees are government-assisted refugees,” he said. “The remaining number of refugees are sponsored refugees, individuals like you and I, or (from) organizations or from spiritual communities. They will be sponsoring those refugees and they are responsible to cover the food and shelter until they are on their feet.”
The Canadian refugee policy is driven by humanitarian values, compassion and fairness, said Mangal.
“As one of the world’s most privileged nations, Canada sees it as its moral obligation to offer protection to those in need, viewing refugee settlement as a part of its responsibility with an international community. We don’t just decide to bring refugees or invite refugees, but we have an international obligation.”
Mangal also refuted some multicultural myths, such as the suggestion multiculturalism is only about giving special rights to minorities.
“Multiculturalism is about different culture groups working together to understand each other’s points of view,” he said. “It is not only the minorities. It means everyone is treated equally and when everyone is treated equally it helps the entire community. It’s not about this group or that group, we’re all coming from groups somewhere at some point.”
Another myth is multiculturalism allows people to follow the laws and rules of their own culture instead of the Canadian laws.
“Canadian law applies to everyone,” said Mangal. “There is no special treatment or you get an exemption of any kind. All newcomers are expected to fully abide by Canadian laws.”
Mangal also addressed the notion that multiculturalism means different multiculturalism groups will mix together and not mix with other Canadians.
“Incorrect,” he said. “It can be difficult to adjust to a new culture and language when you first arrive, but a welcoming community makes that process way easier. When people stick together it’s due to the language barrier, lack of opportunity or discrimination.
“How we break those barriers and promote cultural harmony is in our hands. It depends on how we welcome those newcomers.”

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