For many people, migrating to a developed country was the plan for this year, or in 2021, which has come to an abrupt and uncertain halt. While it is not possible to predict the policies that will be implemented by other countries in the global financial north, a country that is likely to remain a favourite to migrate to is Canada.
Individuals and organisations are strategising and re-aligning their plan of action for a post-Covid bounce back, governments across the world are also planning and preparing to restart the economy of countries that have been at a standstill. While companies are reopening and people are returning to work gradually, world leaders are busy drafting and executing policies to revive the economy. What many countries do not seem to be planning and preparing for after shutting its borders is immigration.
Abhinav Chugh, Content and Partnerships Specialist, Strategic Intelligence, World Economic Forum explains, "Migrant key workers continue to perform crucial tasks on the front lines of the global pandemic response. But the shutting down of economies, closure of borders and fear of the invisible enemy is leading to the hardening of migration policies around the world".
Ian Goldin, professor of globalisation and development at Oxford University, and co-author with Citigroup strategist Ben Nabarro of 'Migration and the Economy', sums it up well, "Cutting immigration will hobble economic growth. It's that simple.
"Migrants are vital initial contributors to innovative and dynamic economies".
Canada is a country that has enjoyed a good reputation for its open and welcoming immigration policies. In March, just before the country announced travel restrictions to help contain the spread of Covid-19, Federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino released the planned immigration levels, saying Canada will admit 341,000 permanent residents in 2020, 351,000 next year and 361,000 in 2022.
All in all, Covid-19 will require adjustment in immigration plans. Canada requires immigrants to promote economic growth as it has one of the world's lowest birth rates and one of the world's oldest populations. As older Canadians begin to retire finding an equal let alone greater number of young citizens would be a challenge. Immigration has been the main driver of Canada's population growth since the 1990s and will be the only driver of it by the early 2030s".
According to the Conference Board of Canada projections last year, 'by 2040, 25 percent of the population will be at least 65 years old, up from 17 percent in 2019'.
Keith Ambachtsheer, director emeritus at the International Centre for Pension Management says, "We need immigrants for a lot of reasons, but one of them is to become future contributors."
May 2018 Conference Board report - Canada 2040: No Immigration Versus More Immigration - found that scaling back immigration rates would ultimately raise health-care costs. Pedro Antunes, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada highlights, "businesses are less interested in investing in a country when health-care costs rise too much".
A 2019 report by Antunes for the Conference Board - Can't do it Alone. Immigration is Key to Canada's Growth Strategy - found that without immigration, real GDP growth during the next two decades would drop to 1.1 per cent by 2040, because businesses can't grow when they can't hire workers.
In short, Canada needs migrant workers for the country's economic stability. While some countries are suffering from reduced appeal due to the way migrant populations in those locations are being treated and immigration policies, Canada has been demonstrating shining leadership on this front.
While consumer confidence returns in Canada and the economy gradually prepares to bounce back post-Covid, with its renewed insight on the need of migrant workers especially nurses and other healthcare workers and truckers and logistics professionals for the economy highlighted during this pandemic, the country's popularity as a migration destination is likely to increase once borders reopen.
By Vrinda Gupta
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