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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Immigration policy costly to Canadian taxpayers: Fraser Institute

   Canada column for Sunday, March 18/12


   (c) By Jim Fox

   A leading public policy organization wants Canada’s immigration selection process revamped to counter the huge cost caused by people emigrating to the country.
   The Fraser Institute said the cost of supporting immigrants who arrived in Canada between 1987 and 2004 is between $16 billion and $23 billion a year.
   That’s because they receive more in government services and payments per person than they pay in taxes.
   “As a result of Canada's welfare-state policies, our progressive income taxes and universal social programs, these immigrants impose a huge fiscal burden on Canadian taxpayers," said report co-author Herbert Grubel.
   Immigrants who have come to Canada since 1987 “are not doing as well economically” as those who came previously, with their annual income 72 percent of that of other Canadians, he said.
   The controversial report calls on the government to scrap the points-based selection process and instead let the market decide the types of workers and professionals that are needed in Canada.
   Report co-author Patrick Grady said their lower income and tax payments “are likely to persist over all stages of their lives.”


   The Canadian government has ended any further chance of a strike that would ground Air Canada flights.
   Politicians voted 155 to 124 to approve a bill sending the dispute between the pilots and ground workers unions to arbitration.
   Labor Minister Lisa Raitt said the country could not afford the economic and personal impact of a strike.
   The government earlier prevented Air Canada’s 8,600 mechanics, baggage handlers and other ground crew from going strike during the March school break week, now ending, and the planned lockout of the 3,000 pilots.


   News in brief:
   - Former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney has cancelled a speaking appearance in Toronto next month fearing for his safety. Demonstrators surrounded his hotel calling for his arrest as a “war criminal” during a speech last fall in Vancouver. Security advisors suggested Cheney stay out of Canada for his “personal safety,” event organizers said.
   - BCE Inc., owner of Bell Media, is buying Astral Media Inc. for $3.38 billion, subject to regulatory approval. Astral owns 83 radio stations, TV stations and specialty channels including HBO Canada, Movie Network and Family Channel, as well as outdoor advertising. In the east, food retail giant Sobeys Inc. has bought 236 Shell gas stations and related convenience stores across Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
   - Three Canadian women have started legal action alleging they were “sexually molested” in strip searches by female U.S. border agents while attempting to cross to Detroit from Windsor, Ontario. Michigan attorney Thomas Wienner, who is representing the Ontario women, said they were admitted to the U.S. after the searches. A fourth Ontario woman with a similar complaint has also taken similar action independently.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar remains above parity at $1.0085 in U.S. funds while the U.S. currency is worth 99.15 cents Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.
   Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto index higher at 12,515 points and the TSX Venture Exchange index down at 1,602 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 6, 9, 11, 12, 19 and 20; bonus 47. (March 10) 4, 17, 25, 26, 39 and 49; bonus 10. Lotto Max: (March 9) 7, 18, 19, 29, 39, 47 and 48; bonus 32.


   Regional briefs:
   - The British Columbia government has joined with those in Washington state, Oregon and California to work on a plan to deal with Japanese tsunami debris headed their way. There is a massive field of lumber, refrigerators, fishing boats and other wreckage from last year’s tsunami drifting across the Pacific Ocean.
   - The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. is closing race track slot casinos on April 30 at Windsor, Fort Erie and Sarnia. The closings, due to a drop in business primarily from U.S. gamblers, affect 560 workers. Plans are being considered to open full-scale casinos in Toronto and Ottawa while possibility closing the original Casino Niagara.
   - Back-to-work legislation passed by the British Columbia legislature has put a temporary end to the contract dispute with the province's 41,000 teachers. The bill imposes a six-month cooling-off period, banning strikes and appointing a mediator. The teachers recently held a three-day strike.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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