Refugees Joining Canada’s Labour Force Bring Economic Growth
There are growing numbers of people on the move globally driving up the numbers of refugees worldwide. According to the annual United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Global Trends report published in June, more than 68 million people were forced to flee their homes last year.
To put that into perspective, a person became a refugee every two seconds in 2017. Canada could be doing more for refugees displaced around the world by accepting larger numbers, and in turn, we could grow our own economy and labour force by bringing in more people and allowing them to work here.
In 2017, Canada accepted only 7,500 government-assisted refugees and only 16,000 privately-sponsored refugees.
By accepting refugees, Canada gains contributing members of society. Once refugees are given the right to work within Canada, access to healthcare, housing and education, they can flourish within their new host countries and become productive members of their communities and the economy.
Mayor Randy Hope of Chatham-Kent, Ontario says his municipality faces skills shortages and school closures because of a population decline. He argues Canada, and especially Ontario, need to open their doors to migrants to help solve these problems.
Critical Moment for Refugee Crisis
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi says the world is reaching a critical moment and action needs to be taken on a global scale to deal with the refugee crisis.
"But there is reason for some hope. Fourteen countries are already pioneering a new blueprint for responding to refugee situations and in a matter of months a new Global Compact on Refugees will be ready for adoption by the United Nations General Assembly," Grandi said.
Refugees By the Numbers
Turkey currently receives more refugees than any other country in the world, accepting 3.5 million refugees within its borders. Most refugees globally – just over two-thirds – come from five countries:
- Syria (6.3 million),
- Afghanistan (2.6 million),
- South Sudan (2.4 million),
- Myanmar (1.2 million) and
- Somalia (986,400)
Migration is an opportunity for Canada to integrate these individuals in need, fleeing war and conflict, into our society and labour force to fill shortages and gaps that will only grow with declining populations in regions of Canada.
The sooner Canadians and politicians see this opportunity and act on it, the sooner these migrants will be able to settle here and become productive members of society, leading to economic growth for Canada. It’s a win-win situation for both refugees and Canada.