Regina, SK, 7 November 2011: The Frontier Centre for Public Policy has released a report today entitled More Immigrants Required to Maintain Saskatchewan's Boom. The report recommends that the province increase its immigration intake by 2,000 more immigrants to 10,000 by 2012 and by 100 annually every year thereafter.. Given the provinces dire labour shortages and the impending retirement of the Baby Boom generation, this is the minimum needed to sustain the province’s economic growth.
Saskatchewan has a labour shortage of roughly 10,000 workers in virtually every industry. The shortage will present a challenge to expanding industries, particularly in the resource sector. As Boomers retire, shortages will worsen. Increased fertility rates could mitigate shortages in the long term, but even a significant increase would be too little too late.
The challenge of funding social services with an ageing population will be immense, particularly when it comes to healthcare. Roughly 50% of lifetime healthcare costs come after the age of 65. Unless we can balance out retirees with new workers, young people in Saskatchewan will face staggering tax increases in the next few decades to compensate for retirees. Immigration is the only possible short-term solution.
To achieve the target of 10,000 immigrants, the province should expand its target under the Immigrant Nominee Program from 4,000 to 6,000. The program is specifically targeted at immigrants who already have job offers in the province, as well as a few other key groups such as entrepreneurs and farmers. It has been successful at attracting immigrants to urban and rural areas in Saskatchewan. There are costs associated with the program, some of which are covered by fees to nominees in various categories. The province should work to ensure that nominees are paying the full cost of the program, whether it be through fees or taxes.
While 10,000 immigrants sounds like a shock to the system, it would be a modest increase. The province could absorb far higher levels of immigration, should it see fit. A failure to accept at least 10,000 immigrants annually would undermine the provinces prosperity.
A copy of More Immigrants Required to Maintain Saskatchewan's Boom can be downloaded HERE.
For more information and to arrange an interview with the study's author, media (only) should contact:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Steve Lafleur is a public policy analyst with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. He recently graduated with a Master of Arts Degree in Political Science from Wilfrid Laurier University. He is currently a Contributing Editor for New Geography, where he writes about public policy issues facing North American cities. His works have appeared in publications such as the Toronto Star, the National Post, the Boston Globe, the Oregonian, Reason Magazine, and regional newspapers across Canada.