A recently released report from the Fraser Institute, titled Immigration and the Canadian Welfare State 2011, attempted to put a price tag on the cost of Canadian immigration. The Fraser Institute arrived at a $16.3 billion figure when determining how much immigrants cost Canada every year. This figure was calculated by looking at how much, on average, immigrants received in benefits and paid in taxes.

The Fraser Institute report looks at 2006 figures, which indicate an average Canadian income roughly $9,000 higher than the average income of new Canadians that arrived between 1987 and 2004. This higher income accounts for the fact that Canadians paid a higher amount in taxes while receiving less in benefits than new Canadians. The $16.3 billion figure is supposed to represent the annual cost of the roughly 2.7 million immigrants that arrived in Canada in the 1987 to 2004 period.

While the average income for immigrants that arrived in the 1987 to 2004 period was in fact lower than the average Canadian income, it simply does not hold true for all immigrants. The average income for new Canadians that had been in Canada for more than 15 years, was in fact higher than that of the average Canadian income. By this logic these immigrants would likely be paying higher taxes than average Canadian-born individuals. Such a conclusion indicates that the Fraser Institute’s analysis is short-sighted and fails to take into account the net contributions of new Canadians, when taking into account their full working life.

Furthermore, analyzing an individual’s contribution to Canada solely on the basis of taxes invites similar premature conclusions that certain Canadians are a burden. Applying the pattern of reasoning used by the Fraser Institute, Canadians who have two children, in elementary or high school, are costing the government $21,480 without taking into account any other government benefits, and themselves should be penalized, since the cost-benefit analysis indicates a net loss for Canadian society. What the Fraser Institute does not understand is that Canadian immigration, like education, represents a much-needed investment in Canada’s future.

The Fraser Institute’s report not only fails to take into account how much new Canadians contribute to Canada with regards to taxes, but neglects to look at contributions as well. To determine the full extent of the benefits associated with Canadian immigration one has to look at the big picture; to see how new Canadians are starting Canadian businesses and how new Canadians are bringing much needed international experience to ensure the global competitiveness of Canadian businesses. But the greatest cost that the Fraser Institute report fails to take into account, is what the cost to Canada would be if there were no immigrants. 

For more information about immigrating to Canada, contact FWCanada – Canadian Immigration Law Firm

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