Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Introduction/Presentation Par Les Editeurs

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Introduction/Presentation Par Les Editeurs

Article excerpt

Citizenship and Immigration Canada is currently considering the opportunities and barriers for diversifying poles of attraction for newcomers to Canada, while some provinces (Saskatchewan, Alberta, New Brunswick) are reflecting on their immigrant reception and attraction policies, and Quebec, in particular, is analysing and evaluating the effects of its immigration regionalization policy. Researchers, public servants, decision makers, and community stakeholders brought together by Metropolis in 2003 agreed that, while interesting research existed on regionalization strategies at a macro-economic level, there was not enough data at local levels to support a comprehensive and sustained regionalization strategy.

In research to date, researchers and decision makers have been interested in potential immigration areas--provinces that currently attract few immigrants and certain outlying areas or areas distant from the large cosmopolitan cities--and in the reception and retention capacities of rural areas. They want to know about the status of the populations who go to, or who could be directed to, these areas; the interest that these people may have in settling there; their specific needs; the adaptation processes they prompt; and the services required by refugees, students, seasonal immigrants, professionals, investors, young people, and families. These researchers and decision makers are looking at why immigrants chose these areas: the opportunity to become socio-economically established; the social, health, educational, and cultural services; and the presence of a critical mass of immigrants who have similar origins and paths and who are already settled there. Researchers are also studying cultural distances in terms of the ethnic backgrounds and the religions of these populations, and the capacity for social cohesion in communities based on the new ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity. A great deal of research focuses on economics, that is, immigrants' economic paths and potential socioeconomic openings in the possible areas.

Under Canada's immigration policy, 200,000 people immigrate to Canada each year from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America, and both western and eastern Europe. Two-thirds of these newcomers belong to a visible minority (Statistics Canada 2003), and more than 74 percent of them settle in Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto--a level that has been sustained for over fifteen years (Metropolis 2003). While certain provinces are especially affected by immigration--Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec received more than 90 percent of immigrants to Canada over the last three years (Statistics Canada 2001)--others are just the opposite and are seeing their population shrink owing to the combined effects of an ageing population, a sharp fall in the birth rate, and a high out-migration rate. That is particularly true of the Maritime Provinces, where the low immigration rate (less than 1% of total immigration to Canada) far from makes up for the population decrease, especially when we consider that immigrants do not necessarily stay in their destination province. Over the last few years, New Brunswick has received 750 to 800 immigrants per year and now has a total population of nearly 720,000. This makes it one of the provinces with the fewest immigrants in Canada, a situation echoed in Saskatchewan (with 0.68% of immigration to Canada in 2001) and Manitoba (with a slightly higher rate of 1% over the last three years). These provinces are among the areas of the country with the lowest immigrant populations. Alberta has mid-level figures with 16,371 immigrants in 2001-6.54 percent of immigration to Canada, owing largely to the attraction of its two major cities: Calgary (with an average of 3.75% of Canadian immigration from 1999 to 2001) and Edmonton (with 1.9% during those same years). In these provinces that have little ethnic and religious diversity, the issue of language has even more influence on the immigrant integration process. …

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