The real, big brain drain: the U.S. is about to adopt our successful immigration point system. And that could be bad news for Canada.Sean Fitzpatrick Sean Brian Thomas Fitzpatrick (born 4 June 1963 in Auckland) was a New Zealand rugby union player, widely regarded as one of the finest players ever to come from that country. Early life
Sean Fitzpatrick's high school education was at Sacred Heart College, Auckland. is very worried. He sees, just over the proverbial pro·ver·bi·al
1. Of the nature of a proverb.
2. Expressed in a proverb.
3. Widely referred to, as if the subject of a proverb; famous. horizon, a big "brain drain brain drain
The loss of skilled intellectual and technical labor through the movement of such labor to more favorable geographic, economic, or professional environments. " coming to Canada. The last time the brain drain captured the Canadian public's attention was just before the turn of the millennium, at the height of the Internet investment bubble. Canadians, caught up in the explosion of tech stocks, were treated daily to media discussions of how we were losing skilled workers to the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . When the tech bubble burst in 2000, most of the brain drain discussion disappeared along with it. But with the U.S. playing by new rules, the drain Fitzpatrick foresees now is a little more real.
Fitzpatrick, president and founder of Talentmap, an Ottawa-based employee research and survey company, knows the Americans are on the verge On the Verge (or The Geography of Yearning) is a play written by Eric Overmyer. It makes extensive use of esoteric language and pop culture references from the late nineteenth century to 1955. of changing their immigration immigration, entrance of a person (an alien) into a new country for the purpose of establishing permanent residence. Motives for immigration, like those for migration generally, are often economic, although religious or political factors may be very important. system from family-based to merit-based, and that the effect on Canada could be profound. Specifically, they are debating whether they should adopt the points system, by which a prospective immigrant is awarded points for education and experience and qualified on that basis. Not only would the change make it easier for Canada's best and brightest to live and work in the gigantic gi·gan·tic
1. Relating to or suggestive of a giant.
a. Exceedingly large of its kind: a gigantic toadstool.
b. American marketplace, it would make it easier for anyone in the world to work there. And the change will make it that much harder for Canada to attract talented immigrants to solve its own labour shortages. "I say this is a really big concern, one that we are underestimating," Fitzpatrick says.
Canada has always had to compete hard for talent with the U.S., and has always lost a certain amount to its southern neighbour. However, even during the last big brain drain debate, much of what Canada lost to the U.S. was regained through immigration because of the points system that Canada already utilized. "All of a sudden, people who don't have family links but who have very strong technical skills or very high-demand skills in the global economy will have a very strong advantage in that they can go to the U.S. and get in. For anyone who's mobile and interested in developing their career, the U.S. offers so many attractive advantages--the size of the organizations, the money that's available there for development if you're into technology--whereas in Canada, we're just not on the same playing field," says Fitzpatrick.
The irony here is that Canada stands to become a victim of its own success. The points system was developed here and implemented in 1967. Prior to that, prospective immigrants were chosen more on the basis of country of origin; people from England, Australia and even the U.S. were all given priority. At the time it was thought the system carried a whiff of racism, and was too arbitrary. Valerie Knowles, an Ottawa-based writer and author of Strangers at Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy An immigration policy is any policy of a state that affects the transit of persons across its borders, but especially those that intend to work and to remain in the country. , 1540-2006, says for at least the first 20 years of the points-based system, it was very highly thought of and there was a great deal of confidence in it on the part of the administrators. "It did allow for some individual judgment, but it did do away with a lot of capriciousness and a certain degree of prejudice. That's why other countries have wanted to emulate it," says Knowles. However, it certainly isn't perfect. Knowles says in the last 20 years, the Years, The
the seven decades of Eleanor Pargiter’s life. [Br. Lit.: Benét, 1109]
See : Time Canadian system has become somewhat complicated. Overall, though, Canada's immigration process is recognized internationally as a success. In 1989, Australia implemented a points system, and two years later New Zealand New Zealand (zē`lənd), island country (2005 est. pop. 4,035,000), 104,454 sq mi (270,534 sq km), in the S Pacific Ocean, over 1,000 mi (1,600 km) SE of Australia. The capital is Wellington; the largest city and leading port is Auckland. followed suit. Six years ago the United Kingdom did the same. Now many European countries are considering following Canada's lead.
The result, however, is that the Canadian advantage--through the innovation of its immigration system--has been slowly dwindling dwin·dle
v. dwin·dled, dwin·dling, dwin·dles
To become gradually less until little remains.
To cause to dwindle. See Synonyms at decrease. . Finn Poschmann, senior policy analyst for the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto, calls the threat very real. "Canada has been a beneficiary--for decades now--of brain-dead U.S. immigration policy; their mechanism was tilted towards bringing [in] low-wage, low-skilled workers, and making it more difficult for economic migrants with skills to enter the U.S.," Poschmann says. Switching to the points system, he adds, is a big leap forward for them.
Canada, Poschmann points out, is short of workers as it is, and that situation is only going to become more acute over the next few decades. At the beginning of June, Statistics Canada issued its "Labour Force Projections The ability to project the military element of national power from the continental United States (CONUS) or another theater, in response to requirements for military operations. Force projection operations extend from mobilization and deployment of forces to redeployment to CONUS or home for Canada, 2006-2031" study, predicting in its best-case scenario that the "overall participation rate [in the workforce] inevitably declines" due primarily to the aging population and low birth rate, a trend mirrored in other First World countries such as the U.S. and Germany. This means competition for skilled labour will be even tougher if global economic prosperity is maintained.
So, is there anything Canada can do to compete? According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Poschmann, we cannot open the floodgates to new immigrants to offset demographic change, because that would give us more newcomers than we could possibly deal with. "So it's very important to be as good as we can putting a good package in front of immigrants, and not put [up] barriers," he says.
One solution for Canada is to adjust the points system to make sure it has its priorities straight, ensuring the skills needed here are given top spot. Talentmap's Fitzpatrick sees a real opportunity for innovation in this country, if our system can adjust faster than in the U.S. "Because we're a smaller market, and because we're not as a diverse an economy, we could link immigration not just to education, but to labour demands," Fitzpatrick says. "In the U.S., it would take them a lot longer to adjust because they are just dealing on a bigger scale." This would require a nimble nim·ble
adj. nim·bler, nim·blest
1. Quick, light, or agile in movement or action; deft: nimble fingers. See Synonyms at dexterous.
2. bureaucracy, he adds, which might be a bit of an oxymoron.
There are also improvements that could be made in the recognition of professional credentials CREDENTIALS, international law. The instruments which authorize and establish a public minister in his character with the state or prince to whom they are addressed. If the state or prince receive the minister, he can be received only in the quality attributed to him in his credentials. . There's been some progress at the federal and provincial levels--particularly in Ontario and B.C.--but there is still a long way to go before all the doctors and engineers driving taxi cabs find suitable employment.
But it was taxation that was actually at the centre of the last brain drain debate, and critics say there hasn't been a great deal of progress on that front. "Canada has done a reasonably good job of attracting high-end wage earners, but if we have to compete with the U.S., our high tax rate will definitely be another barrier," says Adam Taylor, research director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation The Canadian Taxpayers Federation or CTF, is a Canadian non-governmental organization that critiques and monitors spending by the federal and provincial governments. . There's not only the U.S., however, to worry about. "Across the globe we see countries flattening
The flattening, ellipticity, or oblateness of an oblate spheroid is the "squashing" of the spheroid's pole, down towards its equator. their tax or simplifying their tax systems in the name of competitiveness," says Taylor.
While the brain drain debate is nothing new, the difference is that the Americans weren't trying that hard to lure highly skilled workers in the past. Now as they get set to try, Canada better get serious about competing, or watch their best and brightest flow south of the border.