[Chronique Jean-François Lisée] Immigrant Addicts

The outcry is deafening. He comes from every corner of the province. From the heart of the metropolis to the most distant village. The baker is desperate. The factory is in panic. The hospital and the school are in need. Economists claim that “businesses are facing a severe and worsening shortage”. It is “the greatest economic threat” that can lie in wait for us. The Chamber of Commerce knows the remedy: “We must ‘boost’ immigration! »

Do you know this tune? She’s not from here. These cries of alarm all come from Ontario, the place in the West where immigration is the most important. Since 2016, outside of the pandemic, our neighbors have welcomed 175,000 immigrants each year. Since the population of Quebec is equivalent to 60% of the population of Ontario, we would need to keep pace with receiving more than 100,000 immigrants a year.

But that is not my point. I have a question instead. Why haven’t the 1,250,000 immigrants who have arrived in Ontario since 2011 filled all the vacancies of bakers, welders, nurses and teachers? It’s still weird. How many would it take to solve this damn shortage? Double ? The triple ?

A gigantic smokehouse

Presenting immigration as a remedy for the labor shortage is a gigantic joke. Economist Pierre Fortin puts it more politely than I do in the report he produced for the Quebec government in the spring: « The idea […] that immigration can solve shortages because it increases the working-age population is nothing but a big fallacy of composition; this idea is based on an incomplete logic which “forgets” to take into account that immigration ends up increasing the demand for labor and not only the supply of labor; and it is also contradicted by a detailed statistical analysis of the behavior of the regions of Canada from 2015 to 2021 and by certain concrete examples from recent years. »

Fortin conducted a new review of the scientific literature for this report. Does immigration effectively fight against ageing? “This hope is contradicted by the research literature, which has clearly demonstrated that the effect of immigration on the old-age dependency ratio is very small. » The average age of immigrants is too high to reverse the trend. Does immigration enrich us, economically? It grows the economy in itself, but, writes Fortin, “there is no scientific evidence that the growth in the standard of living of Canadians would react positively (or negatively) to an accelerated expansion of immigration and population; this result is confirmed by the available summaries of the research literature and by a simple statistical analysis carried out for the present study”.

An electoral escalation

Since this is the state of the science, why are we still in the throes of electioneering over this? François Legault and Éric Duhaime want 50,000 a year, asserting that this is Quebec’s capacity for integration, an assertion that is based on exactly zero studies (like, moreover, their certainty of the need for a third link). Dominique Anglade wants 70,000 per year the first year, then as many as the companies in the region want. Québec solidaire and the Conseil du patronat — same fight! — want 80,000 a year.

There is obviously no doubt that the individual company wants its baker and its welder. There is no doubt that employers are exasperated by the new bargaining power of employees: the shortage of labor forces employers to treat them, and pay them, appropriately. For some, adaptation is difficult.

But how to explain the inability to understand that immigrants create as many offers as job demands, that it is a cycle from which one cannot escape? And since it is, despite all the administrative hurdles, still faster to bring immigrants in than to build the hospitals, schools and additional housing they need, the kind of demographic future we are being offered will necessarily weaken our health and education systems and exacerbate the housing shortage.

The best explanation is given to us by an excellent communicator from Quebec, Catherine Dorion. « Basically, she said to another topic, it’s a bit like a line of coke, the world says to itself: “Ah, look! I’ll take this, I’ll be less drunk, I’ll have energy.” Except that an hour later, what happens? You need another line coke. »

The supportive MP spoke of the third link and the addition of an additional highway to relieve traffic jams. At first it works. Like a line of coke. But soon after, the motorists, attracted by the new way, are even more numerous than before. They need a new dose. Exactly like the immigration thresholds.

Those who want to have an idea of ​​what the application of party immigration programs (other than that of the PQ, which wants to return to the 35,000 per year of the pre-Charest era) would look like in 10 years to take a trip to Ontario. They will see that nothing is settled — or rather that things are just as, if not more, out of order than here, especially in housing and accommodation. And that we hear the same nonsense about the need to take an even stronger dose of immigration.

Finally, I think about it. I titled this column “The Addicts”. Maybe I should have called it « Les pushers « .

jflisee@ledevoir.com; blog: jflisee.org

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