MYTH: Refugees are a security risk. ISIS terrorists are going to infiltrate Canada this way.

FACT: More than 75% of Syrian refugees are women and children. Refugees approved for resettlement have undergone a rigorous security screening by both the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Government of Canada before being accepted. No existing security protocols will be compromised (Lifeline Syria).

MYTH: They will take our jobs.

FACT: According to the 2006 Census, 20% of immigrants to Nova Scotia are self-employed, compared with 8% of the Canadian-born population (Statistics Canada).

According to the Conference Board of Canada, small and medium sized enterprises which have a majority owner who is an immigrant are 60% more likely than non-immigrant owned businesses to export to countries other than the U.S. and 36% more likely to export in general. Exports are an important source of growth for the Nova Scotia economy, bringing new money in from outside the region (Economic Benefits of Immigration: The Impact of Halifax’s Lebanese Community, 2015, The Halifax Partnership).

Developers from the Lebanese community, for example, are key players in Halifax’s major project activity with 20 projects accounting for more than $3 billion over the last 10 years. These projects have and will generate up to 20,000 person years of work, directly and indirectly. Other smaller projects which account for close to $1 billion will account for as many as 6,700 direct and indirect person years of work (Economic Benefits of Immigration: The Impact of Halifax’s Lebanese Community, 2015, The Halifax Partnership).

MYTH: They are a drain on our system.

FACT: A 1990 study found that an average immigrant household paid $22,528 in all forms of taxes and on average each household directly consumed $10,558 in government services. By contrast an average native Canadian household paid $20,259 in tax and consumed $10,102 dollars in services. Across the country this means that immigrant households contributed $2.6 billion more than their share to the public purse. [Ather H. Akbari, “The Impact of Immigrants on Canada’s Treasury, circa 1990,” in Diminishing Returns, ed. Don J. DeVoretz, Policy Study 24 (C. D. Howe Institute, Laurier Institution, 1995)]

A 1996 study found that over a lifetime a typical immigrant family will pay some forty thousand dollars more to the treasury than they will consume in services [“The Political Economy of Canadian Immigration Debate: A Crumbling Consensus?” RIIM Commentary Series #96-03, Simon Fraser University. 1996.].

Immigrants are also less likely than native Canadians to receive employment insurance, social assistance, and subsidized housing [Baker, Michael and Dwayne Benjamin “The Receipt of Transfer Payments by Immigrants to Canada.” The Journal of Human Resources 1995].

Recent immigrants are also less likely to make use of subsidized housing than native Canadians of the same income level [A Study of Poverty and Working Poverty among Recent Immigrants to Canada].

MYTH: They have a negative impact on our economy and society.

FACT: Immigration has a significant impact on Canadian trade links. It proposed that a 1-per-cent increase in immigration from a specific country would lead to a 0.1-per-cent increase in the value of Canadian exports, largely as a result of the international networks that immigrants bring with them. They also bring with them a desire for goods from their home markets, which would contribute to a 0.2-per-cent rise in the value of imports, and a more interesting and varied market for all consumers (Globe and Mail, How Immigration Affects the Economy, Weighing the Costs and Benefits, May 09, 2012).

In a forecasting model designed by Professor Peter Dungan, University of Toronto, an increase of 100,000 immigrants to Canada (chosen under the current selection model) would result in a 2.3-per-cent increase in real GDP over 10 years (Globe and Mail, How Immigration Affects the Economy, Weighing the Costs and Benefits, May 09, 2012).

Studies show that immigration can also foster innovation. A Conference Board of Canada study found immigrants make up 35 per cent of university research chairs in Canada, much higher than their 20 per cent share of the population (Globe and Mail, How Immigration Affects the Economy, Weighing the Costs and Benefits, May 09, 2012).


One of the most important studies of the economic impact of immigration to Canada is Morton Beiser’s Strangers at the Gate. This study looked at the arrival of the Vietnamese boat people who began to arrive in Canada in 1979 to much controversy. The total number of refugees was 60,000, the largest single group of refugees to ever arrive in Canada. Beiser first studied the boat people upon their arrival, finding that few spoke English or French, that most were farmers with few skills useful in Canada, and that they had arrived with no assets with which to establish themselves. Beiser then followed the progress of the boat people to see what effect they would have on Canada. Within ten years of arrival the boat people had an unemployment rate 2.3% lower than the Canadian average. One in five had started a business, 99% had successfully applied to become Canadian citizens, and they were considerably less likely than average to receive some form of social assistance [Beiser, Martin. Strangers at the Gate: The “Boat People’s” First Ten Years in Canada Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999]

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