Why do my Immigration Matters columns make readers angry?
They do, and I can prove it.
Looking at my past 10 columns for BayToday, 32.4% of readers said they were angry after they read them. The anger ranged from a low of nine per cent to a high of a whopping 67 per cent.
I know this by reviewing the emojis at the bottom of each column, where readers are invited to click on one of seven emojis in response to the question: How did this story make you feel? The choices are: happy, amused, afraid, don’t care, sad, frustrated, or angry.
I thought I would compare my angry rating to that of Dave Dale, whose columns can be controversial at times. His angry rating for the last 10 columns is 14.2 per cent. His high point was 22 per cent and low point was four per cent. He didn’t tick anyone off with that column.
How about Perspectives columnist Bill Walton? I always enjoy his writing but normally he doesn’t take on controversial topics. As suspected, readers are not angry with him. His angry average for his last 10 columns is 8.1 per cent, with a high of 12 per cent and a low of three per cent.
What does this quick bit of research tell me?
The inescapable conclusion is that a significant percentage of BayToday readers are not in favour of immigration, because that is the only topic I write about. Some columns really annoy them.
The 67 per cent column was the only one that exceeded 50 per cent, with the next highest at 47 per cent and the next one after that at 38 per cent.
Never one to shy away from controversial topics, I expect this column will get the anger pot boiling.
Canada needs more immigrants. Many more. Hundreds of thousands more.
I read Doug Saunders’ book, Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough, when it was published in 2017 and I refer to my copy of it periodically. The Globe and Mail columnist makes a strong and convincing argument why Canada needs to triple its population.
In a nutshell, his argument is we need to do this to avoid global obscurity and create lasting prosperity, to build equality and reconciliation of indigenous and regional divides, and to ensure economic and ecological sustainability. That’s right off the jacket cover, but it’s a good summary.
We have been in the shadow of the U.S. since we became a nation. That is understandable, living next to a country with 10 times our population. California’s population was 39.5 million in 2019. Canada’s was 38 million in 2020.
We don’t need more people in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. We need them in the smaller cities and towns across Canada and government policies can help achieve that. The Atlantic Immigration Pilot program, now a permanent program, is doing just that, and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, of which North Bay is one of 11 participating cities, has the potential to help spread newcomers across the country and away from the top three cities of immigration.
I have driven from here to the west coast many times. Those who say we don’t have room for more immigrants should take the drive.
More incentives like these would accelerate the process.
I know the naysayers will say there are not enough jobs to support more people, but the facts demonstrate that is not true. There are many job openings in North Bay that employers can’t fill with the talent available locally. That is true across Canada.
Baby boomers are retiring in droves right now and that will continue. The fertility rate in Canada has dropped, where it is well below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per family. In 2019 our rate was 1.47. In 2020 it hit a 15-year low.
Economic reasons alone win the argument that we need many more people. The average age of Canadians is 41.1. Immigrants tend to be younger, with more years left to work and pay taxes that will benefit our burgeoning retired population. Without them, we wither and die, literally and figuratively.
There are more than 100 first-generation immigrant-owned businesses in North Bay and they employ other immigrants and Canadian citizens.
The median age in North Bay is 43. That means there are as many people older than 43 as there are under 43. Who is going to care for us in our declining years if we don’t attract more immigrant health care workers, grocery store clerks, pharmacy staff, etc.?
Results of the 2021 census should be available in February. It will give us population information from last year. It may be too soon to see a bump in the percentage of our immigrant population, as much of the recent increase has been in students attending Canadore College and it takes a few years for them to graduate, find a job, and become a permanent resident and be counted in the census.
The 2016 census counted North Bay’s population as 50,396, down from 52,405 in 2011. That drop may be accounted for by people moving to Callander and East Ferris, which are basically part of North Bay.
The immigrant population in 2016 was 2,745, or 5.4 per cent of our total. I expect it will be up, but not by a lot. The 2026 census may show a larger increase, based on what we are seeing now. Many of Canadore’s international students are choosing to stay and work in North Bay and raise their families.
And that is a good thing…for everyone.
Don Curry is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant living in North Bay. He is a member of Bay Today’s advisory committee.