Canada’s health-care system is still reeling from the ravages of COVID-19 and is suffering from a shortage of doctors, nurses and hospital beds. And yet, our Liberal government announced a plan at the beginning of November to admit around 1.5 million new immigrants into the country over the next three years — roughly equivalent to the population of Calgary. This plan will only serve to put even more strain on our already overtaxed health system.
The BBC noted that the plan “would see Canada welcome about eight-times the number of permanent residents each year — per population — than the U.K., and four-times more than” the United States.
The Liberals want bigger inflows of people because they maintain that the country is sparsely populated and rapidly aging. But the lion’s share of immigrants end up in Toronto and Vancouver — cities that are already overcrowded, have housing shortages and are facing burgeoning crises in their health-care systems.
Health care affects everyone, and Canadians increasingly face lengthy wait times for elective surgeries, procedures, appointments, tests and imaging. Many are without a family physician and emergency rooms are packed.
In British Columbia, for instance, only one in five residents has a family doctor, according to the advocacy group BC Health Care Matters. The group has been holding rallies to bring attention to the problems faced by B.C.’s health-care system, but storming provincial legislatures is pointless. Canadians who are upset about the deterioration of their health-care system should be marching on Ottawa to stop mass immigration until services can recoup and grow to meet existing needs.
There is no doubt that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s excessive levels of 400,000 immigrants per year have helped overwhelm the system. His most recent announcement that immigration will be increased to 500,000 a year in 2025 is unsustainable.
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In the future, the provinces should be allowed to sign off on federal immigration targets and have more say over who is admitted to the country, because they are best positioned to know what types of skills are needed in their labour markets and how many newcomers can reasonably be accommodated.
Most importantly, Ottawa must take into account the fact that the country is already lacking in health-care resources. Pediatric wards across the country are at the breaking point. In terms of doctors and nurses per 1,000 inhabitants, Canada is ranked well below many of our OECD peers. Canada also lags in terms of the number of intensive care beds available, with around one ICU bed for every 6,000 residents in Ontario, compared with one for every 4,100 people in the United States.
Canadians have a right to a responsive and ethical federal immigration system. The number of immigrants allowed into Canada should be curtailed until there are enough family physicians, ICUs, hospital beds and health-care services in place. Simply piling more people into an already-flailing system is irresponsible.