- Immigration reflects health of economy
Uncertainty leads to decline in Asian immigrants to Toronto;
increases newcomers to Montreal
CanWest News Service
Monday, August 04, 2003
India has replaced China as the prime source of immigrants to
Toronto, according to a new study that also shows Montreal has moved
ahead of Vancouver as the second-most attractive metropolitan centre
for newcomers to this country.
Experts have mixed opinions about the significance of the changes.
Some say they highlight trends, such as how a city's economic
fortunes influence immigrant numbers, or how national economic
uncertainty has meant a decline in Asian immigration to Canada and a
drop in the usually high number of Chinese immigrants to this
country's largest city.
But experts agree the report points to new ways of looking at
immigration's growing economic and political impact.
"This is the emerging Canadian story, really," Montreal immigration
lawyer David Cohen said recently.
"This is the demography of our country."
A new report by the Association for Canadian Studies, a Montreal-
based think-tank, looked at figures from Citizenship and Immigration
Canada and tried to explain a recent overall decline in immigration
to this country.
Between 2001 and 2002, national immigration levels fell by more than
eight per cent: from 250,484 newcomers in 2001 to 229,091 last year.
But immigration to Quebec actually increased between 2001 and 2002 --
from 37,523 to 37,627 -- as a result of provincial government
policies encouraging recruitment, particularly of French-speaking
immigrants, the study said.
Without the figures from Quebec, Canada saw a decline of 14 per cent
in immigration last year over 2001.
"I think we're probably headed to further declines," said Jack
Jedwab, executive director of the association, pointing to numbers
from the first quarter of 2003 that show the number of new immigrants
was only 45,580 between January and April, compared to 61,524 during
the same period last year.
While Toronto remained by far the most popular destination for people
immigrating to Canada in 2002, Montreal moved past Vancouver into
second place, showing a jump of almost 700 newcomers -- to a total of
33,004 -- over the year before.
The number of immigrants landing in Vancouver declined from 34,234 in
2001 to 29,922 last year.
Mr. Cohen attributed the changes partly to declining numbers of
Chinese and other Asian immigrants put off by the rising cost of
living in Vancouver, traditionally a magnet for immigrants from the
Conversely, improving economic times in Montreal may have helped that
city attract more newcomers, Mr. Cohen said.
Unusually high immigration from Morocco and Romania helped boost
Montreal's numbers in 2002, the ACS study said, while the city saw
its number of Chinese immigrants fall by 20 per cent compared to the
In Toronto, the number of Chinese immigrants also fell -- from 21,476
in 2001 to 17,854 in 2002. As a result, newcomers from India, who
grew slightly in number from one year to the next, outnumbered those
from the People's Republic of China by about 400 people last year.
A 10 per cent decline between 2001 and 2002 in the number of skilled
workers coming to Canada and a 25 per cent decline in the number of
business immigrants -- investors, entrepreneurs and self-employed
newcomers -- pointed to the lower Asian immigrant numbers, Mr. Jedwab
The Orient is an acknowledged supplier of skilled and business
immigrants to Canada, he added.
Recent economic uncertainty has left the federal government worried
about the availability of work for skilled immigrants applying to
enter Canada, Mr. Jedwab said.
The result has been a decline in the number of people allowed into
Canada under that category, a turn of events that has hit Asian
immigrants particularly hard.