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CHAPADOS: ​​Yes, We Should Lower Canada's Immigration

It's no secret there is an illegal immigration crisis in the United States. In 2023, the country saw 3.2 million encounters at the border, up from an already record-setting 2022 (2.76 million)

At the same time, illegal immigration is not typically much of an issue for Canada's law enforcement agencies. In fact, just 111,000 asylum claims have been made from illegal immigrants coming to Canada since March 2017, with the government accepting just over 36,000.

To put that into perspective, the United States has not seen a single month with fewer than 100,000 border encounters since President Biden's first month in office in January 2021. 

It is actually Canada's legal immigration that has caused the cost of living for residents and citizens to spiral out of control. 

Before Justin Trudeau, approximately 270,000 new arrivals was the modern, single-year record. That number was immediately eclipsed in Trudeau's first year in office with 323,000. This was the relative norm until COVID restrictions dropped the total 226,000 in 2020-2021.

What followed was an outcry from media outlets who complained complained that COVID-19 lockdowns lowered the amount of immigrants that could be brought into the country, citing the age-old claim that mass amounts of immigration are required to fulill economic needs.

The government's answer was to explode the immigration rates to numbers never before seen.

In 2021-2022 the government increased immigration by more than 50% over previous years to 493,000. They pressed the brakes a little bit for 2022-2023 with 469,000. But there is no sign of it slowing down in the foreseeable future. 

A promise of 1.45 million new immigrants by 2025 goes seemingly undiscussed by the powers that be. Pierre Poilievre has consistently danced around the issue, most recently stating immigration numbers will be tied to home building. Conceivably, that means millions of arrivals will be fine so long as there is housing to accommodate it.

The most harsh criticism of the immigration influx has actually come from Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who said in mid-2023 that he was never told the numbers would be so high, and blamed the increase for a housing crisis.

Once again we are at a crossroads of politicians looking to avoid being seen as hateful or xenophobic over a topic that is actually important to most of its taxpayers. Not only that, but lowering immigration numbers has been favoured by Canadians for more than a decade. 

A Nanos poll from 2023 showed that 53% of surveyed Canadians wanted Canada to "accept fewer immigrants than the permanent resident target for 2023."

A 2019 Ledger poll had just 37% of respondents in favour of growing immigration.

Go all the way back to 2010 and only 20% said immigration should increase, at a time when numbers were a little less than half of what they are in 2023-2024.

No matter how much politicians fear the mean words of their opponents, or a population decline resulting in them receiving fewer tax dollars, the issue is rarely ever discussed. If one dares broach the dreaded "fewer immigrants" argument, they are typically met with the aforementioned aging population rhetoric.

Typically, this is coupled with the mention of countries like Japan. Japan has a declining, aging population that produces fewer children and increasingly takes in more immigration. However, this favourited reference fails to mention how different of a country is. Somehow, some way, this declining population has managed to not only maintain its culture — perhaps more so than any other first-world, non-communist nation — but it has also kept prices much lower than Canada.

According to Numbeo, nearly everything is cheaper in Japan. A meal for two in Japan is half that of Canada ($54 vs. $100). Even in Canada, land of milk, one litre is a dollar more than in Japan. A loaf of bread is $1.50 more.

Wait a minute? I thought a declining population makes a country an unaffordable place?

In Japan, eggs average $3 where in Canada you're likely to pay $4.70. While the Great White North has Japan beaten by $9 on monthly utility bills, Canadians pay $30 more per month for phone plans, and nearly double Japan's $44 for monthly internet service.

Canadians also pay around $7,000-$8,000 more for a new car. Make sure you're sitting down for this one: A one bedroom apartment in a Japanese city centre will run you $747 per month, as opposed to a whopping $1,918 in Canada. For that price, you could get a three-bedroom in a Japanese city. The gap widens for the Canadian equivalent, for which you'll spend $3,075 for a three-bedroom.

Did you want to buy a house? Interest rates in Japan for a 20-year mortgage are just 1.78% versus more than 7% in Canada.

Canada has a weak dollar, fragmented and compartmentalized cultures, and a high cost of living. Most polling suggests Trudeau's policies haven't worked, yet both small and big-C conservatives are afraid of the phantom that is a decline in population.

A good question for all to ask: How much worse can Canada get if immigration was lowered? What if it actually made it better?

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