We'll Take Them


Posted to Moncton Free Press, April 1, 2012

It is with more than a little dismay I read that the government is dropping more than 280,000 people from the immigration list simply because it has a backlog of applications.

I can understand personally how it will impact lives and families because my wife went through the process more than ten years ago to migrate to Canada from the United States.

But more than that, I can understand as a resident of New Brunswick how short-sighted this decision can be. In a province with a rapidly ageing population and a weakened ability to pay its debts and services, New Brunswick is facing a chronic population shortage.

Premier Alward should send a short sharp note to the Prime Minister on the immigration file: "We'll take them." Harper's problem file could become a boon to New Brunswick, if only reason prevailed.

Sure, New Brunswick is not perfect. It has only one major employer and many of its industries are in a weakened state. There will not be jobs for these new arrivals to jump into right away. Adding 280,000 people would challenge our services and infrastructure.

But the immigrants, given the choice between living in New Brunswick and living wherever they may come from, would most likely choose the former. Anyone who has traveled at all can tout the benefits of this province compared to most places in the world. What we call "poverty" would be considered prosperity to most.

And (innuendo to the contrary) immigrants do not simply arrive to take jobs that were previously held by the natives. They fill jobs the incumbents do not want (which is how we see new arrivals working for Tim's or on farms around the region).

But more importantly, they create their own jobs, their own prosperity. They bring their ideas, their imagination, and their willingness to translate the advantages of Canadian society into industry and enterprise. Given half a chance, they would turn the New Brunswick economy around.

Are the people of New Brunswick prepared for any degree of immigration? That is perhaps the more difficult question. This is typically a province that tries to address its population problem by bribing people who have already left. An appetite for change does not characterize New Brunswick immigration.

But people had better get used to the idea. In ten or twenty years, the existing native population will no longer be sufficient to sustain the society and the economy. What little enterprise remains will be concentrated in Moncton and Saint John, the hinterland a depopulated remnant.

This trend will be accelerated with recent changes to Employment Insurance. The government will now be encouraging people to migrate from lower-income regions like this province. A depopulated New Brunswick will not be able to pay its debts, and it will not have the means to generate new industry.

The time to reverse this trend is now. The 280,000 people Harper would turn away represent an opportunity lost. We need to reverse this now. We need these people here.

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