Editorial – We’re ready to grow

Jeff Burgar

How many new people should be allowed to move to Canada from around the world?

Should they have skills? Should they be allowed to vote, even if they enter illegally? Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, goes so far as saying people entering Canada without permits or authorization, are not to be called “illegal immigrants.” Nope. Whatever the reason, from not wanting to hurt a criminal’s feelings, to an attempt to minimize the problem, or just obfuscate the whole issue, Trudeau says they were to be called “irregular immigrants.” Gack!

In the United States, 100,000 illegals arrested per month entering across the Mexican-American border, isn’t a crisis. That’s what president Donald Trump, border officials, Homeland Security and many border politicians of both parties call it. Nope. No crisis at all as far as Democrat politicians living far away in gated communities say. Mainstream media in the States goes along with this rosy picture.

The United States is a big country of 320 million people. But it is not overflowing with resources and money to house 1.2 million new people each year. Or is it?

In perspective, ratio-wise on the same scale, Alberta would be taking in 12,000 new people per year. That’s about 40 people per year in the High Prairie, Falher, Peace River region. If, of course, they were all spread evenly across the province. Unfortunately, immigrants, especially unskilled immigrants, gravitate to urban clusters like Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. If they end up in Alberta, most will settle in Calgary. Those that don’t will be in Edmonton. That’s where their countrymen and relatives are. That’s where they will find support networks of their own, outside of what Canada and Alberta can offer.

Our region can easily absorb 40 new people per year. Probably more.

There are many reasons for our region’s business community not growing as fast as it could. Lack of investment capital. Lack of entrepreneurs. Timid investors and banks. But a very big concern for anybody starting any new business is lack of a labour force. From labourers to skilled trades to professionals, where are the bodies who want to work in a new business? And speaking of skilled people, no sooner does a small business train a good employee, local governments have a habit of scooping them up.

Alberta’s new premier, Jason Kenney, says he wants to improve and increase immigration to Alberta. He has experience, being a former federal minister of Immigration. Maybe Alberta needs enclaves and clusters of immigrants in ethnic neighbourhoods in Edmonton and Calgary. Maybe, maybe not. But there are certainly needs in many smaller centres across this great province. It’s true that people, especially our young people, tend to end up in cities. The great attraction is opportunity of course.

So just adding people to our province isn’t a plan. Increasing opportunities in our smaller centres is a real answer. Young people will have jobs. Immigrants will have jobs. People will all prosper together. Sounds simple enough. But no government seems willing or able to do it.


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