Business Council of Canada Urges Political Leaders to Avoid A Single-Topic Election in 2019
Will a single topic dominate this year’s federal election? Not if corporate Canada gets their way.
Goldy Hyder, the head of the Business Council of Canada (a lobby group representing chief executives of Canada’s largest corporations), has spoken openly about the organization’s desire to avoid making this year’s election all about immigration.
Meeting with a reporter in Ottawa late in April, Hyder said he’d promoted the economic case for welcoming more newcomers.
As reported by CTV News, Hyder commented, "What I've said to the leaders of the political parties on this issue is, 'Please, please do all you can to resist making this election about immigration.' That's as bluntly as I can say it to them."
A short two weeks after Hyder’s comments, Canada posted record-setting job growth for the month of April 2019, adding 106,500 total jobs and causing a slight dip in the unemployment rate.
In fact, according to a Financial Post report, “the jobs increases have largely reflected higher labour force numbers as the economy pulls in new workers – youth and immigrants in particular – rather than falling unemployment.”
Canada’s aging population, coupled with the relatively low birthrate, also means that immigration is necessary to offset labour shortages caused by increasing numbers of retirees.
Still, there are also job shortages facing the country, and there’s a commonly-held (yet erroneous) belief that somehow this is the result of increased immigration.
The reality is that healthy employment growth has tightened job markets, which makes it harder for firms to find workers.
“Every job that site empty is a person not paying taxes,” commented Hyder. “We have job shortages across the country, and they’re not just at the high end.”
Hyder also said that members of the Business Council were also aware that immigration has become a hot-button topic. “We’re worried about that in the sense that the public can very easily go to a xenophobic place.”
Case in point: Quebec Premier Francois Legault won this year’s provincial election and promised to cut annual immigration levels in the province by 20 per cent—despite the fact that Quebec is facing significant demographic challenges.
It’s all too easy to imagine how immigrants and refugees will be used as political tools in the coming federal election. As such, it’s incredibly heartening to hear big business politely ask political leaders not to make this topic the be-all, end-all election issue.