Featuring Queenie Choo, CEO, S.U.C.C.E.S.S.; Lisa Lalande, CEO, Century Initiative; Yasir Naqvi, CEO, Institute for Canadian Citizenship; and Ratna Omidvar, Independent Senator for Ontario
Cities in the Time of COVID-19: What Does the Future Hold for Immigration in Our Cities?
A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation
1. We’re a growing society of old people
With an aging population and declining worker to retiree ratio, communities across Canada will continue to face challenges to grow our economy and maintain the services we expect our governments to provide without a diverse talent pool from coast to coast. We need to double down on immigration in order to fuel economic growth and shared prosperity.
2. Fear is fueling misinformation
COVID-19 anxieties are exacerbating racism, discrimination, and the spread of misinformation. Immigrants and newcomers seem to be bearing the brunt of this across the country. Canadians must not lose sight of the national values that distinguish us as a global leader: compassion, diversity, and inclusion
3. Canadian cities have a role to play
Cities have a role to play in this conversation. Policy solutions discussed by the panelists ranged from municipal nominee programs, improving the recognition of foreign credentials, and extending the right to vote in municipal elections.
4. Essential workers, essential pay and essential conditions
Many essential-worker positions are filled by immigrants. Throughout COVID-19, these workers have proved to be the backbone of our cities. It may be time to revive municipal living wage conversations and provide essential wages for essential workers.
5. Population + Growth = Prosperity
There is a link between population, growth and prosperity when it comes to Canada’s long-term future. Greater immigration means people in our workforce, and a wider tax base to pay for essential services that everyone relies on.
Flight and Freedom: Stories of Escape to Canada, Ratna Omidvar and Diana Wagner, Between the Lines
Immigrant demographics Vancouver, B.C. 2018, New to BC, the Library Link for Newcomers
Census Profile, 2016 Vancouver, BC, Statistics Canada
Prosperity Without Growth, Tim Jackson
Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think LIke a 21st-Century Economist, Kate Raworth, Chelsea Green Publishing
Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to email@example.com with “transcription” in the subject line.
Mary W. Rowe [00:00:49] Hi, good afternoon, everyone in Central Canada and good morning to those tuning in from the West. We’re very happy to have you back to City Talk. This is Mary Rowe. I’m the president of the Canadian Urban Institute. We’re doing these sessions a couple of times a week, and I really appreciate people taking the time to participate with us on these. And also not only the panelists, but the people that will join us in the chat function and the participant function. CUI is in the connective tissue business, which is what we’ve been doing since COVID. We put up two platforms: CityWatchCanada.ca and CityShareCanada.ca. And then the third here is CityTalkCanada.ca. These are all about us learning from each other, creating platforms where we can understand what’s going on, how municipal governments are responding, how community institutions and individuals and groups of all kinds are stepping in to demonstrate what community resilience really looks like. And the CityTalk series that these folks have agreed to come on to today is really about, how do we make sense of what’s going on. And every day is a new set of challenges and a new set of opportunities probably. So that’s what we’re keen to talk about today. We have been running these platforms really with partners and all the energy of partners and volunteers across the country. So if you’ve got bandwidth and you want to help us contribute to these things, we would love to have you. And just e-mail COVIDResponse@cui.org – COVIDReponse@CUI.org. And we have something for you to do for sure. So happy to have half hour of your time – an hour of your time. Whatever you’ve got to help us build this kind of collective intelligence that we’re doing. This program originates in Toronto, but there are people participating from across the country and so they have their own attachments. But we hear in Toronto are on the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, Annishnabec, the Chippewa and the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. And Toronto is now home to many diverse First Nations – the Innuit and Métis Peoples from across Turtle Island. We also acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13, signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Williams treaties, which were signed with multiple Annishnabec nations. And we are always cognizant of the heritage that we love, the land that we stand on, and that we continue to work and strive towards truth and reconciliation with Indigenous communities and our First Nations.
Mary W. Rowe [00:03:07] The other thing that we acknowledge in these programs is that tens of thousands of Canadians are still engaged in first line response. They are saving lives. They are keeping people safe. And these conversations are operating in parallel to that. But we are not in any way splatting that or now not acknowledging that that many, many, many folks continue to be engaged in that intense level of activity and we’re supportive of it. These conversations are a supplement to that. These, these chats tend to be focused on the practical and we’re asking people for the various domains that we tackle, what’s working, what’s not, and what do we think is next. And we’re trying to avoid big, bold prognostications of people taking big, wild guesses. We’re trying to stay grounded in the real and that’s why we’ve asked you to participate with us, because you have a direct engagement with folks on the ground working in cities and communities across the country. So that’s a caveat. And this conversation is just the beginning. So we always say, you know, we want everyone to engage and you can do that on social media with #CityTalk. These broadcasts, these programs are not only live broadcasts, but they’re recorded and posted at CanUrb.org/CityTalk. And we also have a really active chat function on these and any of you that have been on one of these know that all sorts of interesting stuff gets talked about in the chat. So please enable your system and please come and join us on the chat. And when you post a comment on chat, we ask you to post not just to “All Panels”. You’ll see this little toggle switch there – you can do “All Panels and Everyone” and please do that, because often people on the chat can answer really quickly, whatever question you’ve got. And often people are posting resources here and it’s really been very, very rich. So we actually post the chats also at CanUrb.org. And that means that unlike Vegas, things that stay in Vegas, if you post on the chat, it’s going to live on the chat and people will see it on the chat. So just keep that in mind when you’re chatting.
Mary W. Rowe [00:05:04] And the other thing I think we want to just make clear here is that no one -we all have different perspectives. And these folks are coming on as individuals. They have particular jobs. They have affiliations. They have, they have clients. They may have client groups, they may have members. But we encourage people to talk as individuals to appreciate that in these times, it’s hard to often get complete clarity within an organization about what the official position is. So we always try to encourage people to be candid with us. You’re not off the record quite. But just to be candid and and for us as an audience to appreciate that. That this is, things are unfolding in real time and we’re all trying to navigate this as we go. So we want to just let everybody know that you’ve got permission to think out loud here with us and see where we end up.
Mary W. Rowe [00:05:57] So let’s start. This session is on immigration. And it is a pressing, pressing topic that is, I think, visible to us every day because we know that Canada is a country that has had remarkable, remarkable success because of ambitious settlement strategies and supports that have been in place for decades. And we’ve got four people here that are deeply engaged in these issues. And we are keen to hear from them, what they see right now as being the pressing challenge and realizing that we’re going to talk, obviously, about immigrants and newcomers and we’re also going to talk about immigration policy in the future. So so let’s start, if we can, with that, with what you’re seeing right now. And I’m going to go first to Queenie. True, we always go to the furthest, furthest of far. So we’re happy to have you from Vancouver. And maybe you can tell us in a couple minutes what your organization is doing, but also what your focus is during COVID. What have you been seeing, Queenie? Happy to have you. And welcome to City Talk.
Queenie Choo [00:06:56] Thank you very much. Thank you again, you know to Canadian Urban Institute for the invite to come and have this wonderful talk. And it’s very timely and it’s really relevant to what’s going on, especially the COVID-19 success. We are one of the largest nonprofit social service organization that helps support newcomers – new Canadians here throughout their journey. And certainly, you know, this is a very important topic, especially, you know, with this crisis across the globe. So it happens, it affect everybody, you know, in the communities as well as those people that are local Canadian or newcomers as well. So, first of all, I think that is not unknown to any, anybody else, with the huge employment loss and business shut down, there’s a significant economic vulnerability. Even before COVID-19, immigrants, particularly recent immigrants, you know, five years or less in Canada, are more likely to be low income as compared to Canadian born population. According to the Census, 2016 indicates that in Metro Vancouver, the prevalence of low immigrant among Canadian born population is about 12, 11.9 percent, or 12 percent. Immigrant population is about 20.5 percent. And recent immigrant population, like five years or less in Canada is about 33.6 percent. So you can see that differential percentage of the income level that are impacting the newcomers. So with COVID-19 we’re seeing more of this happening more than ever. 40 percent of the recent immigrant, they said they have a hard time to pay their bills. And also with the current crisis versus 24 percent of the non immigrant. So this is hard facts. So 42 percent of the recent immigrants said that they have a hard time to pay their mortgage or rent during the COVID-19 crisis, versus 18 percent of the non immigrant. So you can see it’s really hitting the newcomers hard, especially the recent immigrants. So there was a lot of challenges also by new immigrants to navigate the system to get the subsidy. So I think one, it’s very good by the governments to provide those provisions of financial support. But the other hand is, it has been a very hard challenge for new immigrants to come in and not having the, you know, language skill and also digital skill in order to navigate and access the system. So this is adding to the challenge of the new immigrants especially during this time of COVID-19, impacting significantly also about the concern of health and safety. And certainly, this is also very important for everyone to know, health, at this time more than ever about the cross infection, how to look at PPE and what needs to be done in terms of coughing, sneezing etiquette. And social distancing. So all the safety about the racism and, you know, they issue about what’s going on, you know the the COVID-19, is being racialized. I’m going to stop for a moment because these are the top concern that we’ve heard in our community.
Mary W. Rowe [00:11:06] Great. Thank you. Queenie, when you’re talking about those statistics are those for British Columbia?
Queenie Choo [00:11:10] Uh actually, this is from the Census 2016. And it indicates in Metro Vancouver.
Mary W. Rowe [00:11:18] Oh, I see. OK. So these are trends that preexisted. One of the things that we’ve been talking about on these talks that COVID’s been a particle accelerator. You know, it’s taken all the preexisting things that were already festering before COVID and are now manifesting like crazy. OK. So thank you for that. We’ll get you started on that. Yasir, can we go to you next? Please? Yasir Naqvi. Where are you Yasir? Are you in Ottawa today?
Yasir Naqvi [00:11:39] Thank-you, I am in Ottawa, my hometown. Thank you, Mary. And thank you to, Canadian Urban Institute’s team for enabling this very important conversation. I’m the CEO of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. The institute was co-founded by our former Governor-General, The Right Honorable Adrian Clarkson and John Ralston Saul almost fifteen years ago. The aim of our organization is to really promote and foster active citizenship, inclusion and belonging among all Canadian citizens. But of course, we focus a lot on new Canadian citizens. I think you just made a very valid point that a lot of the challenges that we’re seeing exacerbated due to COVID-19, something that have been festering for some time. So one of the areas that we’ve been working on in order to foster inclusion is to look at how disinformation and misinformation online and offline had existed for a long time, towards towards immigrants, towards people of different background, how racism festers in those type of forum. And what are we seeing during the COVID-19 crisis that that is, that the anxiety as a result of this crisis is being exploited by the same people who’ve showed fear towards the other, and now using the disease – and this is not new, disease has been used often in the past as a way to divide people – as being, is being amplified at the moment. So we, at the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, are really taking on that particular issue of making sure that we educate and make people aware that this is a health crisis with some serious economic and social impact. But it’s not a fault of another particular group. And the way to get out of this crisis successfully is for us to really embrace inclusion as we have done so in Canada, to actually to celebrate the differences we have and work together as a society and as a country and as citizens so that we can come out of it stronger.
Mary W. Rowe [00:13:46] Thank you. Lisa, can we go to you now. Lisa Lalande from Century Initiative.
Lisa Lalande [00:13:52] Sure. Thank you so much as well. I echo the thanks for including me and Century on today’s panel. I thought I’d just start with just a really brief overview of Century because not everyone will know who we are. So Century Initiative aims to be a voice for Canada’s future, encouraging Canadians to think longer term about the kind of country we want to leave our children, our grandchildren and their children. So if if future generations, generations that we may not be around see, are going to enjoy the same Canada that we know and love – Canada that offers personal freedoms, a quality of life that is the envy of the world – we need to plan for it. So we need to plan for a future. So our work is straightforward. We focus on initiatives and priorities, on issues that will help the country, that will help the country’s policymakers, business and community leaders think long-term and then take steps today that will create the tomorrow for future Canadian generations. So what that means in practice is we aim to inform and advance policies and priorities that will create the conditions for Canada to thrive, for everyone to grow well into the future. We educate Canadians on the importance of long-term planning and smart population growth, strategic population growth, and we focus in on specific areas. So immigration, urban development, early childhood supports, employment and entrepreneurship and education. And we convene people to better understand the issues, to share knowledge and to amplify the work of other experts in these domains. So for us, you know, what we’ve been seeing, because I know the aim for this is to be really practical, and as some of this will be repeated, I’m sure, but what we’re seeing is obviously this pandemic is having a radical impact on communities of all kinds. For immigrant communities though, I think the challenges that one would normally face coming to a new country, they’re exacerbated in this current situation. Their social, economic and employment positions are much more precarious to begin with. And so that the impact of this extended shutdown is is going to have a major impact on personal and family finances. And this was actually echoed in a recent Statistics Canada data that was released, I think it was released earlier this week, that Canadian-born individuals, that immigrants are more are significantly more likely than Canadian-born individuals to report that COVID-19 will have a major or moderate impact on their finances. [00:16:55]And we know, it was mentioned earlier that immigrants are disproportionately employed in frontline service industries. So that means they’re exposed to reduced, reduced hours, even layoffs in some circumstances. And for those in essential services, it means that they have greater exposure to infection from the virus. So many of them can’t shelter in place and they can’t work from home. So this means that many immigrants and newcomer employees are facing really, really difficult tradeoffs -between earning an income on one hand, and risking their lives on the other. [34.3s] So in addition, I think what we’re seeing is that a lot of many newcomers rely on services such as language training, social services, etc. Those are typically provided face to face, so they don’t have access to those which can be very isolating. And it was noted earlier, unfortunately, we are seeing an increased incidence of racism directed at immigrants, particularly Asian communities. Some groups of immigrants and newcomers are subject to increased stigmatization and discrimination. So I’m going to ground it in an example. Some Cargill and JBS meatpacking employees have reported that they are restricted from entering grocery stores and banks in their local community, regardless of their status, their COVID-19 status. So for immigrant communities, there are many, many challenges that are only being exacerbated by the current crisis.
Mary W. Rowe [00:18:28] It’s an interesting question how vulnerable we’re going to be now when we go through this period and thanks Yasir and Lisa. Senator Omidvar, can we hear from you last and then we’ll open it up? Go ahead, Senator.
Senator Ratna Omidvar [00:18:36] Thank you, Mary. It’s always a pleasure to be in such wonderful company. One gets tired of talking to oneself in these times. I sort of see two, a number of contradictions and some opportunities. You’ve asked us to be practical as well. So I think, I cannot remember another time when the reach and depths of the immigrant reality has been put on such full display as it has today. I was speaking to a neighbor of mine who has been infected and been cleared, and she told me that from the get go – from the responder, the first responders and emergency to the doctors, to the nurses, to the dietitians, to the administration, to the release back from the pharmacy and into her home – every point of interaction was fronted by someone who was clearly not born in Canada in the first or the second generation. So the immigrant reality in the frontline, whether you define frontline as doctors and nurses, or you define it as I do now more globally in terms of grocery store close, garbage pickups, it is the immigrant face of our urban cities. And I think this has come, been put on full display. Contradictory, on the other hand, as Yassir and Lisa have pointed out, and Queenie as well, there is a rise in protectionism, nativism, whatever you may call it. So on the one hand, we have this full display of immigrants at the front, keeping us safe and secure. And on the other hand, we have a rise in racist sentiment. And I I’m predicting that the discussions on immigration policy – who gets in, how they get in – will be impacted quite severely in the short and maybe even the longer term. And these things are not just in the hands of our country, after all. Would-be immigrants may choose to, to sacrifice prosperity in a new country for safety and security at home. I mean, all of these things play in. [00:21:10]So, when I think about our cities and their future, and I think I certainly believe, as I do most of you as well, that immigration has been a driver of prosperity in Canada’s cities. There’s, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. They have created inequities, they have created challenges, but overall, the story of immigrant success is parallel to the story of Canada, the success of Canada’s cities. [28.5s] And there’s an opportunity there, because cities are able to manage that governance and their processes in a more inclusive way, because of local governance is closest to the people – they’re able to include people, they’re able to talk directly to people. The word “citizenship” and “cities” is closely, closely linked. It’s no accident that they are closely linked but it’s expressed differently than at the national level. So I think one of the great opportunities of the day will be cities reaching out more to their citizens, including them more as they redesign urban spacing policies, urban zoning policies. Because all of this will play into the mix. And there is a policy opportunity as well. As we all know, Canada immigration is a shared jurisdiction between the federal government and the provincial government. There is a robust program for provincial nominees. There is a tiny program, 5000 spots for municipal nominees. I think the time has now come to expand the conversation once again, to have municipalities play a more vibrant role at the immigrant selection table than they have been allowed to in the past, and to expand that lever somewhat as we rethink in this country, “What is an essential occupation?”.
Mary W. Rowe [00:23:12] Right.
Senator Ratna Omidvar [00:23:13] Our entire immigration selection policy is addicted, and I use that word with care, but it is, we are addicted to skilled immigrants. Well, guess what? Who are the essential immigrants we need? We need those seasonal agriculture workers to protect our food supply. We need those personal support workers. We need those doctors who are not able to practice because of licensing barriers, to be able to have an opportunity in our long-term care homes so that there is a level and depth of support in, for our senior citizens. So these are all, you can look at them as challenges or you can look at them as opportunities. My family name is Omidvar, which in Persian means “hope”. So I will look for the opportunity.
Yasir Naqvi [00:24:04] Mary, if I may?
Mary W. Rowe [00:24:05] Yes, go ahead, Yassir.
Yasir Naqvi [00:24:06] You know, I think I think the Senator is raising a very good point in terms of the way the cities lie in this crisis and most most importantly, the solutions around the the cities. They are the front line deliverer of services and they are impacted in terms of looking at the orders of government. They’re impacted the most because they have no real taxing authority except for property taxes and user fees. And if you look at cities, if you look at some of the data that’s coming out from from cities across the country, big and small, they’re in a dire, dire strait right now. And I think very strongly, and I think the Senator will agree as well, that in terms of the solutions, we need to double down on the solutions that we were working on, such as the immigration levels. I mean, it’s heartening to see that Canada has said, the Minister has said that we will not be looking at reducing our immigration levels. That is a good thing – that will continue in our trend to up to about 390,000 people per year on average by 2022, unlike United States that has put a halt on immigration, which is which is a wrong policy decision they have made. We may want to look at bringing more people in in order to fuel the economic growth, and the Senator recently wrote a very good piece in IRPP exactly on that issue that, you know, one of the key ingredient for economic growth is people, it’s labor. And biggest source is our, is is the immigrants we bring in. But the second big issue that we’ve been facing, and we were talking about it up to about eight weeks ago and we stopped talking during this global crisis, is housing, affordable housing. Both in terms of rental market, but affordable ownership of housing as as well. That crisis continues to loom and it actually has become even more dire now that people have lost their jobs. And again, solutions around that really needs to be looked at. And I think we may have to expand our horizon a bit, where we look at both more intensification, which is a sustainable way of doing things, but maybe also look at other ways of increasing supply of housing. I know in my city, for example, in Ottawa, they’re looking at expanding the boundaries of the city, and I know it’s a controversial issue, but we know that there is an issue around supply and demand. And a lot of immigrants who come to Canada, they come with a great dream of owning owning a home, which they have not had the opportunity in the countries they come from, but affordability becomes an issue. All this to say that I think we may have to look at doubling down on the solutions as opposed to retracting from the kind of public policy solutions we were working on up to eight weeks ago before this crisis hit us.
Lisa Lalande [00:27:06] Mary, do you mind if I jump in?
Mary W. Rowe [00:27:08] No.
Lisa Lalande [00:27:10] Is that OK?
Mary W. Rowe [00:27:11] Yeah.
Lisa Lalande [00:27:11] OK, great. I wanted to just build off the last two points that both both panelists shared. There’s a lot of anxiety right now. A lot of people are afraid, they’re anxious. So to talk about building a case for population growth, you know –
Mary W. Rowe [00:27:33] Very hard.
Lisa Lalande [00:27:33] May be out of tune, right, with what Canadians are going through, because some of them are just, they want to survive. They don’t know how to pay their bills. But I mean, there’s a a strong economic case for population growth. And ultimately, the facts are that our worker to retiree ratio is declining. So without a boost in immigration or a giant boost in fertility rates, Canada’s population will decline and its labor force will shrink. This means that we will no longer be able to afford our social programs or health care in Canada. So this is where I was going, back to my earlier point about we need a plan for the future and we need to think really strategically about what population growth means, because population growth on its own is not the solution. It needs, it’s a multifaceted policy agenda that includes urban planning, effective urban planning, employment and entrepreneurship, regulatory innovation and entrepreneurship. It includes multiple different opportunities.
Mary W. Rowe [00:28:44] But Lisa, you’ve been saying yourself that there, it’s a time of stress for folks. So we’ve, and you know, not everybody necessarily agrees with your premise. I think and that’s, I think that’s the vulnerability that we have now. And I wonder if the Senator wants to speak to this. There’s somebody on the track who’s actually saying, it’s John Meyer, did you see the comment? He’s actually saying, “Wait a second. Since we’ve had a lot of immigration, our per capita income has actually dropped. And and you folks are all identifying that there are vulnerabilities in our system now. And newcomers, as Yassir said, we’re seeing all sorts of things manifesting that were there and they’re much worse now. And newcomers and people of color and immigrants are the ones that we’re now dependent on. And they’re the ones that are most vulnerable.” So, Ratna, if you want to speak a bit to this about at least is talking about making a long-term case, but I’m interested in what your perspective is. Go ahead, Senator.
Senator Ratna Omidvar [00:29:36] I’d like to make two points and address the question in the panel, in the chat, sorry. One is that fear is a huge motivator to doing things or not doing things. I’ll go back to history. In 1907, Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier made a pledge to double the population of Canada, and he did so by bringing in immigrants from cold weather farming jurisdictions like Ukraine, Poland, Germany and such. But there’s a little footnote to this, and the footnote is this: the urgency to settle the West was not just out of a desire to grow our country economically and population wise, but there was also fear that if we didn’t stake out with people, opposition in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and Alberta, that we would be vulnerable to American infiltration. So now we have fear of another kind.
Mary W. Rowe [00:30:42] Right. We have a different kind of fear. Can get this fear motivate us in another way? I mean, I hear Lisa, your long-term point, if we don’t build the population. But right now, people will argue, “But wait a sec. We can’t seem to support the population we have. So how do we…” Queenie, what about that? You gave us those statistics at the beginning about how disproportionately represented newcomers are and people of color are and immigrants are in all the ways in which the system is failing. So what do you think?
Queenie Choo [00:31:11] Well, I think that it’s important, I agree with Lisa to talk about the social support system that needs to be in place. When you throw somebody kind of, you know, in the path, it does not mean that the person is able to self-propel themselves along that journey. I think that as a responsible community and country, we need to enable those people to succeed in the Canadian journey. So that is vitally important. But also, there are studies to demonstrate that while, even whether they are immigrants or refugees coming to Canada, in the long run they are going to contribute even more than ever, comparing to, you know, other Canadians, you know. So I think we need to look at the long-term. The one thing I also wanted to point out is also our aging population. I think it’s also indicated very well in Senator Ratna Omidvar’s article. You know, if we don’t look at our population, it’s going to decline significantly in 20 or 30 years down the road. I think as a country, we need to be, you know, long-term thinking. We’re needing to look at, you know, how are we going to prepare ourselves for the future. Not just, you know, right now, but into the future. I think it is important that we look at how we are, how are we going to get our economy up and running, how are we going to get people employed? And significantly, once we open up with the country from the recovery of the COVID, in a new normal, what about the enabling factors to help not only new Canadians, but also local Canadian? How are we going to do that all together well in an inclusive community? And that’s important. This is not the time to be divisive among us.
Mary W. Rowe [00:33:28] Before I go to you, Yassir –
Queenie Choo [00:33:30] This is the time we’re needing to kind of stick together, shoulder to shoulder to show Canadians’ way of doing things. And that embraced the diverse and inclusion.
Mary W. Rowe [00:33:41] Before I go to Yassir, Queenie, do you differentiate between refugees and immigrants? Because we’re getting lots of questions about that. You know, newcomers are not all the same. Do you have a particular sense of how you approach that in terms of the different ways in which people arrive here?
Queenie Choo [00:33:58] We all different. Each Canadian is different. So, I think to kind of, you know, labeling people is not a good way of doing things. I think that we need to look at individuals’ needs, whether you are immigrant, whether you are refugees or whether you are a local born Canadian. I think it’s important to look at that individuality, the contribution, the talents that they bring to our country. I think those important asset for our community and we need to embrace it. So rather than labeling, “you’re refugees” and hence, you know, you have that label, I think it’s important to look at the assets they bring to our country.
Mary W. Rowe [00:34:46] Yeah. Yassir and then Ratna. Go ahead, Yassir.
Yasir Naqvi [00:34:49] You know, the fact is that that whenever there is economic anxiety, immigrants are the first one to get blamed. When unemployment is high, people say you know, “Why is somebody else taking away my job”. This crisis is even, I think it’s an even more difficult one because there’s also a health crisis at the same time, so there’s an anxiety associated with the pandemic. And, you know, “What does that mean for my health?”. And so we’re seeing, it’s right now getting manifested that anxiety by, you know, blaming somebody else, especially people of Chinese background, saying, “Somehow you brought this disease and you’re to be blamed for it.” And that’s just overt racism. There’s nothing, nothing to it. And we should call it as such. And we do fight against it and counter it. But it will transform into an anxiety towards others, towards immigrants, when we get out of our physically distant world and back, and get reintegrated back into the society and people start looking for jobs. So we have to be extremely mindful of that, that this is not new and this will happen.
Yasir Naqvi [00:35:57] Mary, I’m going to challenge you. The point you are making Lisa’s point. Lisa’s not talking about the future. Lisa is talking about today. We need immigrants today to grow the economy. We need as much as immigrants are helping us right now to get out of this health care crisis by being front line workers in health care and in every other sector. I mean, it’s really interesting to see that all of a sudden, we are are able to give temporary licenses to people who practice medicine or nursing, but somehow in the long run, we were not able to. I better hope that we don’t go back to the old ways and take their licenses away, because if they were good enough to save lives today, they’re good enough to save lives tomorrow and day after tomorrow and help build our cities, our communities and our country. That’s the doubling down I’m talking about that we need to engage in to make these these important points and counter the anxieties. And to Lisa’s points, and the point that Century Initiative’s been talking about is that this is a challenge of not the future – this is the challenge of the issue, because of a declining birth rate. And I think if anything, this crisis has shown, especially towards our elderly and how disproportionately they have been impacted by this is crisis, that we need to do more to support them, that we cannot turn our backs towards them. They are citizens as well. And this is a very adverse demonstration of ageism that we’re seeing. And the best way to do that is to make sure that we have more people in this in this great country of ours who are properly trained and given the opportunities to help contribute and help to grow this economy so that we have the tax base, but also be in professions where we can be helping people like our elderly.
Mary W. Rowe [00:37:53] Thanks, Yassir. Senator, I’m going to come to you. I just, I just before I do, you mentioned the point about citizenship and cities being so closely aligned in terms of their root. And I remember some work you and I did together many years ago where we talked about that. But isn’t it interesting that we refer to citizens rather in a general way, but we know that, that hundreds of thousands of people living in cities are not citizens. They are residents. And it sort of begs the question, which is raised on the chat, “Should we be changing the eligibility to vote municipal elections?”. Is that another tool, in addition to the one you were talking about, a municipal nominee program? To strengthen the urban capacity to be able to have more immigrants come. Anyway, go ahead
Senator Ratna Omidvar [00:38:33] That is take me back some 20 years I think, Mary. And I think, perhaps a little differently about that question now, and that’s possibly because I breathe in the thin air of Ottawa. Citizenship is, I would say under a certain amount of pressure and stress because of national policies, because of global migration policies. And I would want to do everything I can to maintain the current uptake of citizenship at the national level, whether that’s enhanced or not. If locals, if you’re allowed to vote in local elections, I don’t know, but I’ve heard that argument. But I certainly believe in “more participation is better than less”. And I remember one of the most succinct arguments that I heard around local citizenship and the local franchise was that there were whole tracts of housing developments in Toronto and Vancouver and Montreal, where immigrants were living – they weren’t citizens. And therefore, the local politicians rarely bothered to go and visit these towers or these housing estates because, after all, they didn’t vote. So I think that there’s some trend to have that discussion again. But I would want to add to some of the chats around, yes, immigration has created commercial prosperity, I wouldn’t argue with that. But it is correct to point out that it has an underbelly and there is an underbelly of inequity and economic deprivation at the bottom end of the scale. And I think maybe the time has come for us to think about essential work and essential pay should go hand-in-hand. And I know of city-led movements starting in London, migrating to Los Angeles, over to Vancouver, around local living wages which would determine, in our city, for example, in Toronto, it’s perfectly within the mandate of our city council to create an essential worker living wage. So it is no longer just minimum wage, but it is higher than minimum wage, possibly by some degree. And this would enable the City to work with those suppliers who subscribe to it so that, in fact, a rising tide would lift all boats. I think we can’t, on the one hand, say that we mean…absolutely to work in our cities or in our institutions and to keep us safe and then not pay them in a commensurate manner. So I think there’s an opportunity there. There are, by the way, a whole lot of unanswered questions around the future of migration to Canada, the future of immigration to cities based on a whole number of questions that we cannot answer. And I’m just thinking that these are important to put on the table. We don’t know, for instance, whether commercial businesses, corporations, will embrace the remote work possibility because it seems to have worked quite well. So they are asking themselves, why do we need this high-priced real estate down on Bay Street?
Mary W. Rowe [00:42:07] Some of them are thinking that. Some of them are asking themselves that
Senator Ratna Omidvar [00:42:11] What if the high priced housing in Toronto or Vancouver or Montreal is impacted because people are choosing to work from home or corporations are choosing to work from home? This would free up more housing, more affordable housing places. What would it do to transportation? Maybe less people would be using urban transport. So there’s a whole bunch of things I don’t know and I would love to have this conversation back in a year when we know a little bit more. And finally, we don’t know – I’ve been talking to a lot of people overseas. They’ve put their migration plans on hold. Not just their travel plans – they’ve put their migration plans on hold because they don’t know what they will face in the travel in a new country. So there’s a whole bunch of things we don’t know. And I would love to have this conversation again.
Mary W. Rowe [00:43:09] We’ve got your number right now. We’ll make sure we have it again. And we probably won’t wait a year because COVID time accelerates everything. So what used to be a year is now two months. Lisa?
Lisa Lalande [00:43:17] Yeah, I just wanted to say –
Mary W. Rowe [00:43:21] I want to ask you a question first though. On the chat – people on the chat are asking, do we have to – is growth necessarily a given? Maybe growth isn’t a good thing and our cost of growth and should we be looking at growth in a different kind of way? I can see, that got people going. Yassir’s shaking his head. Lisa?
Lisa Lalande [00:43:41] I mean, Yassir brought up a good point. We’re an aging society and we’re becoming a country of old people. And an aging society has economic implications. And it means that it’ll be more people working to try to, to try to cover the expenses of our aging population. We will no longer be in a position to afford the programs that we have in place today. So it speaks to what kind of future do we want for our children, our grandchildren and their children. And I mean, the fact is, if we if we maintain our current pace of immigration, Canada’s GDP growth is expected to slow.
Mary W. Rowe [00:44:24] I mean, this is COVID – this is pre-COVID you’re talking. You’re talking the rate pre-COVID, right
Lisa Lalande [00:44:29] Right. And so, I mean, we were already, you know, we were already expecting a rise. For health care, costs were going to rise annually, an average of 4 percent in the coming decade as our population ages. What are those costs going to be now? I wanted to speak to one point, and I think it’s an important one. And it’s on attitudes, Canadian attitudes towards immigration. It is possible that with the pandemic, it could further exacerbate xenophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment. It’s a legitimate it’s a legitimate question: will that happen in Canada? Because we’re seeing, already seeing anecdotally in the news that this is happening in some communities. But the fact is we don’t really know the depth and breadth of how far that goes for Canadians. And if you look at, in 2019 Environics, they do a study on Canadian perceptions of immigration. And as a whole, and this is 2019, this is pre-pandemic, I know. But as a whole, they continue to be more positive than negative about the number of immigrants arriving in Canada and the benefits they bring. And public concerns about whether newcomers are adequately embracing Canadian values and legitimacy of refugee claimants did not increase from 2018 to 2019. They stayed the same. And it weren’t, they weren’t a part – immigration issues were not a significant part at all of our last election. So I actually think, when it’s done right, I think most Canadians will embrace the notion of immigration and recognize the economic and other contributions they make to our country. But I think Ratna’s right, in light of COVID there’s just so many factors and so many things changing and so much anxiety that it’s difficult to predict.
Mary W. Rowe [00:46:13] Right. Yassir.
Yasir Naqvi [00:46:15] Yeah. You know, I want to address the question around growth because I hear about this often. I think the panelists know this, that in my past life I was a politician. I represented a Downtown riding here in Ottawa. And as a result, I knocked on doors every weekend. And more often than not, I used to hear two things when I asked people, how can I help you? One day they will say, lower my taxes, as many people say. And secondly, they will say, “And I waited nine hours in an E.R., so I need better health care.” Collect less money, spend more. Right? And once I got confident enough to challenge, start challenging people, I said, “Well, it’s not going to happen.” If we, you know, money in, money out. If we need money to pay for these services – health care is the most expensive service to deliver – and you cannot lower your taxes. But there is another way of doing it is by increasing your tax base. If you have more people, more people working, then they will pay more taxes and that money will go into providing the social services fee. So to Lisa’s point, as we live in an aging country where we are required rightly so, to take care of our elders, and I think COVID has really shown the, has shown the fault lines in our system, the solution is not to stop immigration – to preserve the few jobs that we don’t have enough people to preserve and the tax business sufficient enough. Because they will be in a dire problem. The solution is to bring more people in and make sure we just don’t bring them in to become Uber drivers, and nothing against Uber drivers, but to actually create a pathway for them to fulfill their economic potential. So that they can work in their chosen profession and be able to perform and be part of the society, an inclusive society, at the level that they deserve. So this way they make good money, they pay more taxes and those taxes get used to fulfill our services. I mean, it’s a win-win for all of us. And sometimes I just find it, I don’t know, all of us sitting, you know, maybe don’t do a good job in making that case or demonstrating that the outcome is a more inclusive and prosperous country that we all are absolutely committed to building.
Mary W. Rowe [00:48:45] I’m going to suggest for the next few minutes that we just focus, if we can, on the specifics around newcomers now and what their experience is now as they recover. At CUI, we’ve as I say, we’ve had several these conversations and housing was one of them. And it was identified that we’ve got all sorts of challenges with housing the preexisted: we’ve got forgotten densities, Jay Pitter’s term, where you’ve got folks living too dense and not safe – often newcomers, often people of color. And how do we do that better? And as you said, Yasir, on licensure – good grief. If, all of a sudden someone is allowed to practice, but then afterwards they’re suddenly not, can we find ways to use the COVID experience to catalyze us into a better place, around densities, around licensure? What else? What about business recovery? And we’ve got something in CUI we’re leading called Bring Back Main Street and we’re focusing heavily there on main street businesses, many of which are owned and operated by immigrants. So anybody want to, Queenie, do you want to talk a little bit about that? About the kind of…
Queenie Choo [00:49:52] Sure. You know, housing is so fundamental to enable people to develop that community and social connection opportunities and where they’re going to reside. And the other piece is also transportation. You know, especially in an urban area, how that public transit is going to be able to help people to go from point one, point A to point B, especially for employment for newcomers. So, you know, the mobility is vitally important. So I want to touch on a little bit about families, family of the immigrants and newcomers. How are we going to support them, the parenting? You know, really, truly, how are we going to help them to integrate into our Canadian society? This is so vitally important. Whether it’s health care, transportation, you know, education – those are all encompassing. And the other piece you touched on very importantly is about the foreign credential recognition. Being an immigrant before, I was a nurse trained in the U.K., and when I come to Canada, I still have to go through the credentialing process. Absolutely, right? Because Canada want to protect the safety of the public in terms of healthcare. I totally understand that. But I think that whole system needs to be taking a look at you know, the process so that it does not present some roadblocks for newcomers in order to get that licenseship. That is very real, and I have personal experience. Even moving from Alberta to BC, I have to make sure I get the transferability, you know? Like I practice as an RN, you know, how come it’s different from province to province? It’s kind of –
Mary W. Rowe [00:51:54] Do you think we can accelerate that? I mean, do you think that COVID’s created a kind of crisis and so suddenly we did. We also have offered an annual income kind of device too. There are certain things that we seem to suddenly be able to do. Queenie, do you do you think there are – do you think there’s a chance that we will be able to make these things stick?
Queenie Choo [00:52:10] Well, I’m hoping…there are a number of things that I hope that will stick. One is care for the seniors. Really fundamental have to look at, you know, in the whole long-term care system, how we care for our seniors? Secondly is how we credential people. Is it going to be the same as before, after the COVID? So I think the whole kind of credentialing and how, will help us to the newcomers or local Canadians to succeed. I think it’s very fundamental question, if it works in the in COVID, during COVID crisis, how come it’s a different system post-COVID? So these are the thing we’re needing to take a look at, and fundamentally asking ourselves what makes sense, and how we going to bring value to the community rather than being divisive.
Mary W. Rowe [00:53:03] Got it. Ratna.
Senator Ratna Omidvar [00:53:05] So I think let’s, let’s start with tried observation. But it’s true. Let’s not let a crisis go to waste. This crisis will teach us things about our nation, about ourselves, about how we respond. And I think it’s important to use that lever to think about things and accelerate some of the solutions that have been proposed. [00:53:31]I think all of us around the panel agree on the linkage between population and growth and prosperity. [8.6s] Now there is a choice to be made. We can be a smaller nation. Fair enough. There are there are enough people in the chat room who are proposing, you know, a reduced economic or reduced population. But I think there are consequences with this. We are a very small country in terms of population, and if we want our products and our goods and services to attract a market, the market is not in Canada. It has to be also outside. And immigration makes us global, it makes us pluralistic, it makes us part of the global network. And I, that I think the middle country, a middle power like Canada, must have. I believe the question about refugees, and I want to use a little bit of my time, Mary, to address that. I, you know, I think every human being is unique. But I think just as there is a differentiated impact on certain populations during the crisis – let’s think about kids and mental health, let’s think about women in shelters – there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that for those refugees who have arrived in Canada in the last year or two, who are struggling to get their Canadian legs a little, that this crisis has created a significant challenge to them as they move forward. So I wish that this conversation will appreciate that particular context of the refugees’ life. They have less social capital, they have less economic capital. If they’re fortunate enough to have a sponsor, a private sponsor, then that becomes a little different. But, you know, to assume that they are tech savvy after having lived in camps for God knows how many years, and I sponsored a family who’s done that, I think it’s a stretch. So I think we want to recognize the reality of isolation that may impact differently on refugee families. And I think that needs to be appreciated by us. And finally, you know, I would like to say that there is a variance of opinion on this. I personally was very relieved that immigration was not a headline issue in the last election. Because in the meantime, I have learned that it is one of those issues, you can have all the evidence, Lisa, Yassir, Queenie, all the evidence in the world lined up. And that will come one anecdote and boom – the conversation gets hijacked. So I am personally happy. I don’t believe as a nation, especially in a crisis, we’re at the stage where we can have a mature, nuanced conversation for the long-term. So I would hope that it’s business as, not “as usual”, but business going forward in the new normal. And the new normal may well propel cities to the front. It may well make us think differently about the kinds of qualities and competencies that immigrants need to have in order to put them at the top of the pecking range, and that we need to rethink our compensation for them, whether it’s private compensation or whether it’s government. You know, there’s talk in the chat room about Mincome. There are 50 senators who are urging the government to use this opportunity and launch a basic minimum income program as advocated by former senator Arthur Eggleton of Toronto. So these are all opportunities to not let a crisis go to waste.
Mary W. Rowe [00:57:31] And 30 seconds to the other three in terms of not letting this crisis go to waste. Lisa, what – if there’s something you’d like to see stick, what is it?
Lisa Lalande [00:57:41] Yeah. Well, you know, I think that I want to reinforce we’re all feeling really anxious right now. We’re uncertain about what the future is going to hold. The key takeaway here is that there’s a certain amount of social and economic security that comes with a bigger country. If we’re bigger, we won’t necessarily feel small in the face of larger, more dominating countries. [00:58:06]And we can play a global leadership role on, particularly the issue of immigration, demonstrating to other countries that we can be both economically prosperous and socially inclusive. Those two things can exist together. And this, this leadership role, in my view, is needed now more than ever. [18.4s]
Mary W. Rowe [00:58:25] Yassir?
Yasir Naqvi [00:58:26] You know, to be Canadian is to become compassionate. And so I really hope that we don’t lose that compassion. Even though we’ve been asked to physically distance ourselves, this is an opportunity to be even more socially inclusive towards each other. I continue to remind people that, find ways to reach out. Yes, we’re trying to keep in touch through technology with our family members and stuff. But I hope we’re doing the same with our neighbours to our right, to our left, in front of us. You know, let’s reach out and make sure that they’re doing OK. This is how you build a society. This is what the success of Canadian society has been. And we need to even be more laser-focused on inclusion – make sure that nobody’s left behind.
Mary W. Rowe [00:59:12] Last 30 seconds to you, Queenie. 30 seconds is all we’ve got.
Queenie Choo [00:59:16] Thank you. And this is a pleasure to talk about, you know, to bring about the point of diversity. I see diversity as an asset to the country rather than adversarial to the country. I see diversity as, you know, the means to get us to economic prosperity. And I think that we should embrace it more than ever after this COVID-19 crisis to really leverage what we have, the talent that we bring to our country.
Mary W. Rowe [00:59:50] Thank you. I want to thank you for joining us today, there’s lots and lots of topics that you are going to spur further conversation on and this relationship between growth, equity, inclusion and sustainability. And lots and lots for us to continue to talk on. And you know, the good thing about this is that these conversations, it ain’t over, we’re not solving them in an hour. Lots and lots of work still to be done. Tomorrow, we have Mayor Bowman from Winnipeg with us. And I hope that, in the spirit of connective tissue across this country, that you all tune in and listen to what Mayor Bowman has been trying pre-COVID. He had a lot of interesting things going on in Winnipeg around some of the themes we’ve just talked about – equity and justice and inclusion and sustainability. And he’ll be with us tomorrow at noon for a one on one with Mayor Bowman. Now, the other last thing to say on this one, we experimented this time. We had to go at 11:30 Eastern because of one of the conflicts of the schedules of one of the participants. And we’ve had some feedback from young, younger participants who have children at home that it’s difficult for them to tune in at noon Eastern. And so they’d like us to change the time. Here’s the dilemma, folks. It’s lunchtime somewhere, everywhere. And so whatever time we put this at, someone is going to be on lunch. So we’re going to mix it up a little bit. But we’re going to generally try to be mid-day still in the Eastern Time zone so that we don’t drag people in Vancouver out of bed too early and that we don’t miss the Atlantic region who will want to be having their afternoon tea. So we’ll continue with these times. But if you’ve got feedback on that, please fill out the questionnaire, the evaluation questionnaire. That’s in the chat. Give us some more feedback on that. And if I could just thank Ratna, Lisa, Yassir and Queenie, thank you for joining us. Very important topic, and we’re really happy to have you on CityTalk and the conversation continues. Thank you. Thank you. Take care.
Lisa Lalande [01:01:34] Bye, everyone.
Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with “Chat Comments” in the subject line.
11:33:05 From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: email@example.com
11:34:19 From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please select “all panelists and attendees” in the chat function so that everyone can read your comments.
11:34:50 From Canadian Urban Institute: #citytalk
11:35:10 From Canadian Urban Institute: https://canurb.org/citytalk
11:35:49 From Lynda Chubak: Good morning everyone. Thank you for this webinar and your work.
11:37:18 From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Today’s panel:
Queenie Choo – https://twitter.com/queeniechoo
Lisa Lalande – https://twitter.com/lalandelisa
Yasir Naqvi – https://twitter.com/yasir_naqvi
Ratna Omidvar – https://twitter.com/ratnaomi
11:42:54 From Patrick Kyba: Our company has recently completed a major COVID-19 study and released a report about new Canadians that echos Queenie’s comments. You can view it here: https://portal.advanis.net/a/en/report/saas004950/MTIz.AXR33Quj4bRNCHzAXv2G_z0MdlA/
11:43:49 From Abigail Slater (SCT): @Patrick it is not available without login privileges
11:47:57 From Yasir Naqvi: To follow our response to COVID-19 — “Standing together for inclusion” — please follow us on www.inclusion.ca/covid-19-response.
11:48:28 From Abigail Slater (SCT): And he role of front care health workers in an ageing society,…so many of whom are newcomers
11:49:20 From Queenie Choo to All panelists: racism and hate crime have no place in our community. Stand strong on this
11:50:03 From Patrick Kyba: @abigail The site should be public. What login are you being asked for?
11:50:23 From Abigail Slater (SCT): @Patrick Advanic
11:50:26 From Abigail Slater (SCT): Advanix
11:50:32 From Abigail Slater (SCT): Advanis (ugh)
11:51:17 From Queenie Choo: racism and hate crime have no place in our community. Let’s stand strong on this
11:52:13 From Abigail Slater (SCT): Much of our educational system also relies on immigration and a pathway to citizenship.
11:54:13 From John Meyer to All panelists: For Ratna, immigration has expanded the commercial economy but it has hurt per capita income and equality as our #2 status in the world in the early 1960s has fallen into the mid-20s now due to stagnating incomes, higher debt and inflating housing costs.
11:54:36 From Abigail Slater (SCT): @Ratna RIGHT ON!
11:54:45 From Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome new joiners! Just a reminder to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
11:55:58 From Patrick Kyba: @abigail Thank you for letting us know. We believe we know the issue. Be sure to add the / at the end of the URL. We will fix this issue at a later time, but if you include the / at the end, you should be able to access the report: https://portal.advanis.net/a/en/report/saas004950/MTIz.AXR33Quj4bRNCHzAXv2G_z0MdlA/
11:56:24 From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/3ceLSN9
11:56:57 From Leo Doyle to All panelists: Given the low pay and difficult working condition of farm worker and personal support workers, doesn’t it create more vulnerability for these workers if they are targeted intensively for immigration? Isn’t part of the problem that these are low-paid jobs and too many vulnerable people are in those sectors?
11:56:58 From Catherine Manson: Question also about impact on Social Assistance financial concerns – if many are affected by lower income – cannot recover quickly – is this a time to discuss Basic Imcome for all including our Migrant Workers
11:59:24 From Leo Doyle to All panelists: Mr Naqvi, How does creating more costly urban sprawl help immigrants, of which at least 25 to 40 are low income? More exurban land build houses for double income, affluent people. It sucks up tax revenue needed to provide support to urban communities, where poor are concentrated?
11:59:31 From Angela Kiu to All panelists: It is OK to expand a bit – key is to integrate transportation and land use planning and design, with strong applications of sustainable design and development . Just let immigration continues as usual. to keep population growth to counter aging population. Yes, I agree with Lisa totally!!
11:59:52 From Joseph Jozsa to All panelists: I have not heard mention of refugees! THey are even worst affected . . .
11:59:57 From Donna Bolton-Steele: “You clap for me, now” video speaks to the issues Ratna was speaking to. https://youtu.be/gXGIt_Y57tc
12:00:10 From Canadian Urban Institute: Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:01:12 From Abigail Slater (SCT): @patrick…it had the / (am I the only one?)
12:04:48 From Angela Kiu: Just let immigration continues as usual. to keep population growth to counter aging population. Yes, I agree with Lisa totally!! A balance must perpetuate. Multi-prong objectives always work better than single prong approaches. We must be strategic.
12:05:39 From Abigail Slater (SCT): How much of the disproportionate socio economic status on newcomers is systemic. If they are moved to jobs with no protections, and as we know the long term health care facilities do not allow for full time, so they must move from location to location, etc. farm work, etc. it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as Queen said.
12:06:12 From Phil Chalk: Would extending the vote, at least on a municipal level, to newcomers who are not yet citizens, encourage more equitable and effective policy outcomes for newcomers?
12:06:40 From Angela Kiu: Sadly too about what Yasir has just said …. many forget that immigration started and established new nations the world over.
12:06:42 From Patrick Kyba: @abigail Can you try a different browser?
12:06:51 From John Meyer: Aging? Aging is inevitable and immigration is doing almost nothing even at the current world’s highest rate to change our age structure. Trying to run ahead of aging pushes extremely and ever growing levels of immigration forever – sustainability is extremely difficult to achieve even for the current level of population. Aging was buried decades ago as some thing to solve. It is something we have to adjust to as part of the demographic transition begun in the 1700’s. Age structure will inevitably include a higher proportion of older people. Other countries are managing this well.
12:07:33 From Abigail Slater (SCT): @patrick….Safari worked! Thanks!
12:07:35 From Carmichael Polonio: **standing ovation to Yasir**
12:07:48 From Angela Kiu: Yep, immigration is the only way today for economic growth and sustainability – pretty rudimentary economic understanding.
12:08:58 From Angela Kiu: @ Yasir – weel said re: immigration and tax base, etc.
12:09:23 From Amy Calder: what about additional supports to support young people who are starting families? regardless of status as an immigrant or “local” Canadian. We point to immigration as a way to increase our population and support the economy, but as @John Meyer says above, immigration doesn’t solve aging. We need to boost our birth rates too
12:09:36 From Meghan Hollett to All panelists: Yes pls, let’s chat about the right to vote & feeling a greater connection to your city
12:11:08 From Juliana Dutkay to All panelists: Is participation sufficient? or agency!
12:11:48 From leen al zaibak to All panelists: Well said Yasir, good enough today should be good enough tomorrow. An interesting article that speaks on the point of allowing the greatly needed internationally trained doctors a future in the medical field post crisis. https://bit.ly/3cfgjTo
12:12:05 From Jelena Garic: I agree for licensing – where did this restriction for foreign licensing/education come from? For the medical field specifically, where did the restriction come from? Lobbying from the industry or is it more a political play?
12:12:11 From Juliana Dutkay: is participation sufficient? or agency is actually required.
12:12:49 From Abigail Slater (SCT): @Jelena licensing is a closed shop!
12:13:17 From Angela Kiu: Boosting birth rates – is very much down to individuals to choose to do this. Would this fit with one’s lifestyle, life expectations? Sure child tax relief, etc could be incentives … but best approach is the balance of both immigration and boosting natural birth rates here. Multi-prong strategy, to have best chances to realize desired outcomes.
12:13:51 From Angela Kiu: It is OK to expand a bit – key is to integrate transportation and land use planning and design, with strong applications of sustainable design and development
12:14:00 From Bruce Newbold: Boosting birth rates won’t work – there are multiple examples of countries or regions that have tried this to no avail. To grow population – irrespective of aging – must happen through immigration
12:14:30 From Angela Kiu: @ Bruce – yes, correct
12:14:54 From Abigail Slater (SCT): (Read Kate Raworth-Donut Economics)…the growth of GDP is the driver and no one has questioned this.
12:15:05 From Carmichael Polonio: https://timjackson.org.uk/ecological-economics/pwg/
Recommend this book
12:15:10 From Karandeep Singh to All panelists: As an immigrant myself, I’d like to emphasise how difficult it is to get your hands on opportunities that exist in the market. Despite going through the drill of networking and connecting, showcasing our qualifications and abilities, I know so many who struggle for such long periods of time to land deserving jobs. Whether it is because – companies end up hiring internally – there are enough job seekers from Canadian schools who immigrants are competing against – in addition to SO many other factors. Seeking a job has become a complicated science which is draining mentally, emotionally and financially..
12:15:15 From Abigail Slater (SCT): Kate Raworth has questioned the endless drive for growth at the expense of everything else.
12:15:23 From Angela Kiu: @m Lisa – yes, that is totally true – the reality and pragmatism we need to have in place.
12:15:44 From Brian Moss: Most professions ‘guard’ new entries to their fields and have for many decades .. doubt it will change easily ..
12:15:57 From Karandeep Singh: As an immigrant myself, I’d like to emphasise how difficult it is to get your hands on opportunities that exist in the market. Despite going through the drill of networking and connecting, showcasing our qualifications and abilities, I know so many who struggle for such long periods of time to land deserving jobs. Whether it is because – companies end up hiring internally – there are enough job seekers from Canadian schools who immigrants are competing against – in addition to SO many other factors. Seeking a job has become a complicated science which is draining mentally, emotionally and financially..
12:15:58 From A A: On newcomers, this is a unique place where this label exists. If this is a category, then there must be a reason for the segregation that’s signaled by the category
12:16:08 From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/3ceLSN9
12:16:09 From Canadian Urban Institute: CUI is looking for volunteers to help us continue the great work of our COVID-19 initiatives. If you can help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
12:16:11 From Catherine Manson: How do we ensure that the Government has these conversations – Can the Senate take a lead as the Government will try to defend protecting economy and backlash on Country Debt?
12:16:39 From Carmichael Polonio: But, will COVID also cause a migration spike, in a few months from now, when emerging countries are having difficulties….
12:16:40 From Amy Calder: If boosting birth rates “won’t work” then what happens after a few generation when immigrants are having less children too…? Just more immigrants? Do you see the challenge here?
There is definitely a need for balance, but if newcomers are finding it challenging to live given restricted economic opportunities upon coming here, then how are they going to continue to contribute towards population growth into the future?
12:17:38 From A A: wondering whether newcomers/ immigrants are included in plans for newcomers / immigrants?
12:17:50 From John Meyer: Size of the commercial economy is irrelevant. per capita income is the indicator of a healthy economy. The break even point for tax positive jobs is about $43.000 annually. Job quality matter not the number of jobs created since deficits go up and the social safety net degrades on the backs of a growing pool of working poor.
12:18:00 From Samira Farahani: what about some unfair use of the system by immigrants? all those who are making million, millions of money back home and come here claimimng no income and unfortunately use the tax money to get family support services as much as they could
12:18:08 From Abigail Slater (SCT): Politicians are afraid to tell the reality. the anti-tax movement has delivered a message that is very hard to counter. the value of taxes has never been effectively communicated.
12:18:57 From Jiya Benni: @Karandeep – and Covid has made it all even harder!
12:19:39 From Melda Tanrikulu: I studied urban planning for 9 years + 14 years of experience.
12:19:49 From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at
12:20:37 From Melda Tanrikulu: The country accepted me as a skilled worker but my skills are not considered. I am happy to go back to my work in the restaurant, but is this sustainable?
12:20:55 From Abigail Slater (SCT): The entire health care (long term facilities)needs to be reformed as well…wages that reflect the essential service and safe conditions for the workers and the residents.
12:21:02 From A A: indeed, and that expansion of the category of licensed healthcare workers can be applied to more sectors
12:21:23 From Sandy Agnew to All panelists: Yasir is wrong. Continuous growth forever is not possible. We already live beyond the capacity of the planet to support our lifestyle. Look at the global perspective.
12:21:50 From Jelena Garic: @Abigail That’s fair and there are benefits to that, but that doesn’t mean the numbers of membership can’t be increased. Or having a system to incorporate new comers into the system in a more fair way – providing programs for training until ready to practice here, etc.
12:22:34 From Lorne Cutler: One of the main attractions to moving to Canada is the hope of better economic circumstances for either them or their children. Not growing the economy will only result in the pie staying the same size or even shrinking with the number of people trying to eat the pie only getting bigger. How will not growing the economy result in even the current levels of immigration let alone higher levels. We saw in 2008/2009 when the economy only contracted by 2% how many people entered into a dire economic state?
12:22:36 From A A: if healthcare is so vital and repercussions fatal, other industries have less fatal consequences
12:23:26 From Abigail Slater (SCT): @Jelena…I agree with you, I am only reflecting the closed nature of credentials. Not saying it is right…the medical system only has limited spaced for medical students (for example) and increasing credentials means higher funding by governments…so it is both political and economic…it is a finite pool of funding.
12:25:14 From Angela Kiu: We hope that Covid-19 will bring about a lot of realization of gaps and allow for a new world order for better distribution of equity for all, in every sense for all.
12:25:25 From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/3ceLSN9
12:25:46 From Jelena Garic: @Abigail Totally – didn’t think you were agreeing or disagreeing. I think the current limits are what we need to look at, moving forward. I think we need to redefine the capacities in that system.
12:27:02 From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk
12:28:15 From Abigail Slater (SCT): @Jelena “thumbs up”
12:28:39 From Jelena Garic: For population growth – there’s also the issue of climate change. The economic benefit of growth is evident, but I think there’s also this interesting perspective of what happens to climate targets with a reduced population. That’s not to say we can’t continue to have immigration, because our current population is declining, but another interesting talking point.
12:29:08 From Jelena Garic: @Abigail haha, *thumbs up*
12:29:21 From John Meyer: We need a green reset, not an attempt to rebuild the economy of the 1950s in the environmental reality of 2020s.
12:29:23 From Angela Kiu: Thank you to all the great speakers for sharing today … and everyone at this webinar. Take care all! Stay safe!!:)
12:29:52 From Jelena Garic: @John Meyer Totally!
12:30:30 From Shannon Markle: Thank you for a great discussion today!
12:30:43 From Patrick Kyba: Thanks all!
12:30:51 From Lynda Chubak: Thank you!
12:31:09 From Charles Crenna: Thank you organizing this!
12:32:03 From Abigail Slater (SCT): It’s a big country!
12:32:08 From leen al zaibak to All panelists: Wonderful webinar, thanks to all the participants!
12:32:12 From stephanie gonos to All panelists: thank you.
12:32:12 From Queenie Choo: Thank you for your time
12:32:18 From Jelena Garic: Thank you!
12:32:25 From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/3ceLSN9
12:33:06 From Joseph Jozsa to All panelists: timely . . .valuable … future oriented .. there is hope.
12:33:09 From Kellie Grant: Thank you everyone – this conversation provides food for thought
12:34:05 From Francis Wallace to All panelists: Thank you.
12:38:20 From Canadian Urban Institute: Please leave your final comments in the chat – we will be closing in a couple of minutes.