Thursday, February 9, 2012

Canada, keep it beautiful (we need the immigrants)

Canada, keep it beautiful (we need the immigrants)

Beware the ides of 2026. The future will be here sooner than you think.

In fact, you'd be wise to start right now by making friends with those new people up the street with the three children and thanking them for calling Canada home.

Because if the latest analysis by the census gurus at Statistics Canada is to be believed, immigrants are Canada's only real hope for population growth in the foreseeable future.

You see, 2026 is the year when the oldest of the baby boomers will turn 80. Love 'em or hate 'em, that great postwar population bulge has been dictating fashion, politics, cultural trends and health-care needs since William Lyon Mackenzie King was the prime minister. Did you really think age, or death, would stop them from shaping Canada's demographic and economic landscape?

Within three years, senior citizens will outnumber children 15 and younger for the first time in Canadian history. And it's pretty much downhill from there.

"In 2026, the first of the baby boomers will reach the age of 80, an age when mortality is high," Statistics Canada analysts Laurent Martel and Jonathan Chagnon caution in a briefing document accompanying the 2011 census. "The number of deaths will increase significantly."

In case that's not blunt enough for you, Statistics Canada provided a nifty graph showing a steep climb in the death rate starting, well, right around now.

Given improvements in life expectancy rates, of course, a great many Canadian boomers will live to a good old age. Statistics Canada projects there will be roughly 10 million senior citizens in Canada by 2036. That's double the number of Canadians aged 65 and older now, which is twice the number of seniors there were in 1981. As a country, we're old and we're getting older. And the older and frailer we all get, the more dependent we will be on health care, old age security and other government services.

This matters because Canada's low fertility rate - since the mid-1970s, it has hovered between 1.5 and 1.7 children per woman - means we can no longer rely on natural increases to replenish our ranks.

Which brings us back to the importance of making Canada an attractive option for people from other parts of the world who are looking for a place to build, or rebuild, their lives.

To meet Statistics Canada's "medium growth" scenario for 43.8 million people in 2036, the demographers say Canada will need an immigration rate of 7.5 immigrants per 1,000 population and maintaining a fertility rate of 1.7 children per woman. Under that projection, immigrants would then account for more than 80 per cent of Canada's population growth.

As analysts noted in an earlier study on population projections, "a large proportion of immigrants are of childbearing age . Strong immigration has a positive effect on the number of births."

And if we don't continue to open our doors?

"Without a sustained level of immigration or a substantial increase in fertility, Canada's population growth could, within 20 years, be close to zero," Martel and Chagnon write.

As the gap between young and old widens, no growth would mean fewer people in the workforce and less tax revenue. It would mean fewer children in our schools, fewer ideas percolating in our universities, fewer folks to drop by for a cup of tea or drive you to the doctor when you are the one who is old and weak.

So wave to those new people up the street. Bring them a pie. Say hello, Canada is happy to have you.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

News Release – Due to Continuing Violence in Syria, Government Closes Visa Office - Services redistributed to Lebanon and Jordan

News Release – Due to Continuing Violence in Syria, Government Closes Visa Office - Services redistributed to Lebanon and Jordan

Ottawa, January 31, 2012 — Due to the continuing violence in Syria, the Visa and Immigration Section at the Canadian Embassy in Damascus is closed and services have been transferred to neighbouring visa offices, Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism announced today.

“Following this redistribution, the visa offices in Lebanon (Beirut) and Jordan (Amman) will become full service offices,” said Minister Kenney. “Now applicants in those countries will have access to full immigration services in their home country.”

The visa office in Jordan (Amman) will also be responsible for all applications from Iraq, while the visa office in Turkey (Ankara) will take care of immigration applications from Iran.

Once the Damascus office is able to reopen it will be responsible for all applications from Syria. Until that time, anyone in Syria who wants to submit a temporary resident application should apply through the visa office in Lebanon (Beirut) or Jordan (Amman). Syrian nationals outside of Syria can submit their application to any other Canadian visa office.

Permanent resident applications from Syrian nationals have been transferred to Jordan (Amman) where processing will resume.

The visa office in Damascus currently has approximately 300 active refugee files from persons residing in Syria that are at the final stages and are visa ready. These files have been transferred to Jordan (Amman) for final processing and visa issuance. The remaining refugee resettlement cases for persons residing in Syria have been transferred to a secure location and processing will resume once the visa office in Damascus is able to re-open. The refugee resettlement cases for persons residing outside of Syria follows the same regional redistribution where processing will resume.

The closure of the visa office follows an announcement made by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) on the Government of Canada’s reduced diplomatic staff in Syria.

“The situation in Syria is too volatile and we need to find a more permanent solution for processing applications in the area,” added Minister Kenney. “This redistribution means that we are able to bring more services closer to applicants.”