Trapped in the Big City? Re-Thinking Regionalization of Immigration

Trapped in the Big City? RE-Thinking Regionalization of Immigration


Marc Yvan Valade, PhD Candidate
Policy Studies, Yeates School of Graduate Studies, Ryerson University


In the 1990s Canada adopted a policy of constant immigration increase to offset a predicted population decline by the 2020s. While the broader approach was a success, immigration now being the main population increase driver, a problematic divide has emerged: most immigrants settle in the biggest cities while the smaller and more distant ones are depleting with alarming economic and social consequences. This literature review paper explores the state of research on these issues and on regionalization of immigration in Canada – i.e., ways to favour immigrant dispersal among regions. Three major findings appear, highlighting challenges related to immigrants’ socioeconomic outcomes, community competitiveness in attracting new residents, and effectiveness of existing policies. Economically, immigrants are doing worse on average in the Metropolis than their counterparts in smaller areas. Paradoxically, however, they are less attracted by remote communities who are unable to compete with big cities in attracting international and internal migrants. If population renewal and economic development in smaller centres are to be societal objectives, this paper argues for better connected policies between population renewal objectives, dynamic attraction programs, and proactive regional development.


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