Canada lies in Northern America and consists of ten provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and Labrador) and three territories (Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon).
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The difference between the province and the territories is that, provinces are jurisdictions that are governed according to Constitution Act, 1867 while territories are governed according to the federal government. In terms of size, Canada follows Russia in land surface area, while it occupies over a third of the total North American land area.
Canada lies between Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Artic Ocean, and the United States to the east, west, North, and south respectively. It border Greenland to the north East and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon at the south coast of Newfoundland. Generally, it lies between 60oW and 141oW longitude and has an area of 9 984 670 km2.
Canada has a diversified physical geography entailing Boreal Forests throughout the country, ice in the artic regions, Rocky Mountains with ice, the Canadian Prairies, which facilitate agriculture in the southwest and the Great lakes in the southeast.
A regional study of Canada divides Canada in to six different regions namely Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, Western Canada, British Columbia, and Territorial North. This is because these different regions have distinct geographical characteristics, which determine their population and development. Canada has been the most generous country in welcoming immigrants from all over the world especially in the 20th century.
In the beginning, it had put so many barriers on immigration specifically to non-Europeans but since it started experiencing demographic issues, it did away with the restrictions. The geography of Canada has a great impact on immigration and inurn, immigration has resulted in to a great impact on the geography of Canada. This essay will discuss extensively on issues of immigration and the geography of Canada.
Reasons for immigration in Canada
The major reason as to why Canada removed migration barriers to the non-European migrants was to curb its demographic challenges though there were other minor factors. The main demographic challenges that Canada was going through included aging population, falling birth rate, and labour shortage. These challenges were a major threat to the industrialisation of Canada due to shortage of labour thus the need to improve on its manpower.
Canada is projected to have a very high rate of its population aging in the near future. Currently, around 13% of the population consists of aged people and this is projected to double by 2030. The high rate of an aging population affects the government in areas like social welfare, healthcare and labour.
On the hand, statistics from year 2000 show that the birth rates have fallen with over 20% and are continuing to fall. Actually, the government is using incentives like maternity and parental leave benefits to improve on birth rate. The aging population and low birth rates have really affected the population growth which projected to be insignificant by 2016.
The overall result of the aging population, low birth rate and low population growth is a shortage in labour supply which has already been noted in some occupations. For instance, the labour shortage is already significant in the medical field which may worsen with time since as the population ages, they require more medical attention and therefore more medical practitioners will be required. The challenges in the labour market have lead to an acute need to seek labour from outside and thus the issue of migration comes in.
Another reason for migration was the building of the British Nootka Sound Fort in 1788. Many Chinese viewed this as a gold rush and they migrated to Canada in multitude to build the fort. In 1907, there was another major gold rush in North America that leads to a rise of Chinese immigrants in Canada. It was known as Fraser River Gold rush and many Chinese came to find revenue through mining (McGillivray 81).
Immigration policy in Canada
Immigration policies are meant to control the transit of persons in a country. Canada has the leading per capita immigration rates in the world. The initial Canada immigration policies were biased and were meant to restrict some races from entering Canada. As the demographic challenges started affecting the country, they were forced to adjust and remove the barriers since they needed to improve on their population.
It had a small population and vast idle land and its need for expansion prompted it to encourage immigration. Most of the immigrants settled in the rural areas since the rural population was low and there were enough space to accommodate them. Before 1970s, immigration to Canada was strictly for European nationals but currently, Canada hosts immigrants from all over the world (Smick Para 1).
The Canadian immigration policy is based on three basic categories. 1) Economic- Canadian government gives the first priority to the immigrants who can benefit their economy. This consists of the largest group each year since their manufacturing sector is on decline and their energies are geared towards creating a more information based economy.
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In this field, they consider highly educated people, job experience and ability to communicate in their language and other foreign languages. 2) Family reunification- The second priority is given to the people who want to join their family members already living in Canada, specifically, children and spouses. 3) Refugees- Canada considers people who are running from their home countries due to humanitarian reasons or persecution.
Canada has a variety of programs to welcome immigrants and help them adopt with ease. They offer training in language, ease in acquiring health care and social welfare programs (Smick Para 4).
Economic importance immigration on the geography of Canada
There has been a very significant impact of immigration on the Canadian geography since the world war two. Immigration in Canada has increased drastically since 1960 after non-European immigrants were allowed to migrate freely to Canada whereby several millions of immigrants have migrated to Canada and settled on just a few metropolitan states. This has resulted in a drastic transformation of Canadian cities especially in the areas of housing, labour market and the neighborhood life (Hiebert Para 1).
In its policies, Canada largest group of immigrants consists of the skilled and the learned who can contribute to the growth of the economy.
It has been noted that some immigrants academic and professional qualification hardly match with the job opportunities in Canada, others lack the basic language to communicate their knowledge thus underutilizing their skills while still others have qualification which are not recognized in the economic system of Canada. Since the government has to absorb all in the job market, they end up spending more than they are gaining (Smick Para 9).
Immigration has lead to a very significant and positive impact in the housing and the outlook of the environment of Canada especially in British Columbia. There has been new planning in the housing in Canada to overcome the population pressure in the urban centers as well as to accommodate immigrants in the rural areas.
Canada has been ranked among the countries with the best housing and rental rates in the world and this has been an effect of immigration. Apart from housing, Canada’s demographic challenges have lead to the abolishment of its unfair immigration policies thus encouraging diversity and multiculturalism in the country.
The territorial north has unique environment and unique environmental challenges originating from Southern Parts of Canada. Compared to the rest of Canada and its land area, it has a relatively low population. The presence of mineral resources like diamond, metal, oil and gas attracted the first post-Aboriginal migration in the region. The territorial north attracted so many immigrants from outside Canada especially the Aborigines as well as from other parts of Canada.
The immigrants mainly came from the south to explore the resources. With time, people started migrating from overseas and the population in the territorial north started to grow. This lead to the growth of the administrative government of the region and many people started working for the government especially in education and health sectors. The discovery of placer gold in Bonanza known as the Klondike gold rush was a major attraction to immigrants (Vineberg, 2009).
The major immigration related challenge in Atlantic Canada is the issue of demography. In 1970’s, the demographic issues were unheard of since the population growth rate was fair, net in-migration and a normal immigration. Between 1990 and 2000, Atlantic Canada recorded the highest number of immigrants in history not only from outside Canada but also from the other provinces of Canada.
In the past five years, there has been a drastic out migration from Atlantic Canada leading to a notable decline in the population. In Atlantic Canada, most of the population is old, mostly white people and the population growth is negative. This kind of a population poses a great challenge on the economy of the region since it is providing insufficient workforce in the job market (Immigration Canada Para 2).
In the past, Atlantic Canada had the lowest numbers of immigrants due to its low profile and the small cities. This has been changing gradually as the population ages, with low birth rates and labour shortages. Most of the immigrants have now settled and are growing but still, the regional governments are in demand of a larger and stronger population. Atlantic regional government have come up with immigration policy to enable them curb demographic challenges and acquire sufficient workforce (Canada Immigration Lawyers Para 1).
Among the strategies to attract and retain immigrant, Atlantic Canada in collaboration with other provinces are offering Atlantic Immigration brand and are offering education to the employers on better management strategies to retain workforce. The number of immigrants has increased in the near past and there is a noticeable rate of retention (Canada Immigration Lawyers Para 1).
Quebec has recorded a population growth of 5.5% between 1996 and 2006 though compared to other provinces in Canada; the weight of Canadian natives has been declining. Despite a slight rise in birth rates and female fertility, population growth in Quebec can only be impacted by immigration. Most of the Quebec immigrants come from China, Morocco, France, Algeria, Romania and Colombia.
Quebec loses 21 500 people annually through in-migration mostly to Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and New Brunswick. Quebec also experiences internal migration from remote areas whereby people tend to prefer regions like Montreal due to quality education and job opportunities. Most people migrate from Quebec to other provinces due to its geographical characteristics whereby some of its regions are remote and underdeveloped (Courville 292).
The biggest demographic challenge in Quebec is the aging population whereby 13% of the population is beyond 65 years of age. The aging group is projected to increase to 24% by 2030, whereby the pressure of aging is becoming stiffer due to early retirement and low birth rates (Courville 292).
Ontario has always recorded a higher population of immigrants that the natives of Canada. The high numbers of immigrants in Ontario are because of globalization and employment opportunities in the region. The large cities of Ontario have efficient means of communication leading to concentration of immigrants in them.
There is generally low fertility in Ontario from the citizens leading to low birth rates thus compressing the population growth. To solve this problem, Ontario encourages immigration especially to improve on the population growth and to balance regional distribution. The good geographical characteristics of Ontario and the favorable climate contribute a great deal in attracting immigrants to this region (Beaujot 8).
Most of the people migrating to Ontario have high academic qualification but their job rewards never reflect this. In Ontario, the salaries differ depending on the place of origin where Canadian born citizens receive the highest pay whereas immigrants receive the least.
Ontario government has created the Canada Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA), to be looking at the interests of the immigrants and to make Ontario a better place for them. Ontario has been facing an acute shortage on workforce but they have not been able to utilize the potential immigrants who have great skills since they consider their national first thus discriminating on the immigrants (Association of Municipalities of Ontario 8).
Ontario has a relatively favored physical environment compared to the rest of Canada thus giving immigrants preference to it. The southward protruding region of Ontario known as the peninsula does very well in terms of agriculture thus most immigrants prefer to settle there. Due to extensive agriculture in Ontario, its capital city Toronto has been a centre of commercial activity like banking leading to a significant growth of its economy (Hudson 74).
The low population in Western Canada had reached to a point where by Canada took the initiative of advertising their need of immigrants in this region. Immigrants have contributed significantly to the development of Western Canada. Western Canada is well known for good geographical environment for agriculture, which attracted many immigrants in the Prairies province.
Most of the immigrants in Western Canada are Asians whose settlement is more common on Vancouver than in other regions of Western Canada. Just like the other regions in Canada, Western Canada has been going through demographic challenges of aging population, low birth rates and shortages in labour market. Asians have brought population increase in this region thus lessening demographic challenges and bringing diversity in linguistics and ethnicity.
In the beginning of their immigration, Asians used to work in casual and primary areas but with time, they have been incorporated in industries, service occupations and professional positions. They have also invested money in the region thus contributing in the growth of the economy. The overall outlook of Western Canada in areas of housing and environment has also been impacted by the input of the immigrants (Felske and Rasporich 265).
Like Ontario, British Columbia has recorded a greater number of immigrants that the Canadian population since 1956. The geographical location of British Columbia with a busy coastline explains the reason for high numbers of immigrants in this region. Most of the immigrants in British Columbia and Canada in general prefer settling in Vancouver and this has lead to a drastic change of housing and the environment of the city.
Immigration has been the determining factor in house rental and ownership in BC since it accounts an average of 70% population growth in Canada. Net international migration is projected to click 63000 by 2013 in BC and the rate has had a very positive impact in the economic growth in Canada (Cooper Para 1).
The regional geography of Canada and immigration are two dependent subjects, which have been affecting each other since time immemorial. Canada is the second largest country in the world and has been going through demographic challenges in the 20th century arising the need for immigration. Regardless of the extensive span of underutilized land, most of the immigrants tend to contrite in the urban centers of Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.
This unequal distribution of immigrants in the region has lead to overpopulation in these urban centers and serious infrastructure and environmental challenges are now prevalent. Such challenges include traffic congestion, garbage disposal, insecurity, and rising cost in Social, health and academic welfare. This has lead to the need to change the setting of the cities in order to accommodate the rising population.
The great numbers of Asians in Canada is another geographical change that has resulted from immigration. There are large numbers of immigrants from Asia who have dominantly been settling in Toronto and Vancouver. It is projected that if immigration proceeds at the current rate, these two cities might end up being predominantly Asian. The Canadian government should check on this since it fails in its objectives of immigration of promoting diversity and multiculturalism (Grubel 6).
Generally, immigration has been of great impact on the demography and geography of Canada. It has reduced the percentage of the aging population since most of the immigrants are young and has helped to overcome the challenges that are brought about by an aging population.
Furthermore, the young immigrants have a higher fertility level thus the rate of births has raised slightly. The biggest impact on immigration has been on labour market since it has curbed the prevailing shortages of labour. Canada first priority in its immigration department has always been to improve on its economy this most of the immigrants possess useful academic and professional skills, which have helped in the labour market.
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