You may have noticed that immigration has become a central theme of this blog. Twenty years ago I was a fan of immigration but I worried – as do many – about the migration of immigrants out of New Brunswick not long after settling here because of a lack of opportunity.
In the last few years, I have done just about a 180 on this issue. I now think the lack of immigration is a major cause of our economic malaise – not a symptom.
From a new BMO study out yesterday:
In one of the most comprehensive studies of our nation’s affluent, analysts report that two-thirds of Canada’s millionaires are self-made. Strikingly, almost half the nation’s high net-worth individuals are either immigrants or first-generation Canadians, compared to just one-third of millionaires in the U.S., and nearly seven in 10 of them generated their own riches.
“Canada has always been positioned as a place of opportunity; with this study, we’re able to validate that,” said Yannick Archambault, vice-president and chief operating officer of BMO Harris Private Banking, which commissioned the study. “[Immigrants] bring a strong work ethic, a lot of determination and entrepreneurship.”
This should be a wake up call to policy makers in this region. If we want more ambitious entrepreneurship, if we want to build stronger trade and investment ties with the rest of the world, if we want to address our demographic challenges, if we want cultural and creative renewal, we are going to have to get serious about immigration.