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The Positive Effect of Immigrants

A lot has been written about why Trump was successful in winning the most recent U.S. election. One of the main factors was perhaps the fact that he was able to articulate what a lot of Americans believed to be true: immigrants are stealing their jobs.

In Canada and in particular, Ontario, we have been blessed with robust immigration numbers as long as I have lived here. In the last century, Western Europeans were the first to be part of the immigration wave, incentivized by Canadian government policy that at one point provided free fares and small cash incentives for young families to make the journey across on giant ships. Latest, Syrians driven out of their homes by religious and political extremists are welcomed with open arms and become part of the Canadian fabric.

Immigrants add so much to our daily lives, but more important to the Canadian economy. In the 35 years I have been in business, I have employed many new Canadians in our own company. And I’m not alone. Most of the business owners I have had the pleasure to meet and work with have some sort of connection to the immigration story.

From the giant cookie factory here with North American distribution, to a large construction company, both of the founders being immigrants from different countries, were able to help transform a small town into a fast growing city. The sons and daughters of these immigrants have been able to build out their operations and become major employers in their communities.

Not only customers have been a great influence; but also employees in my own company – we’re 50% first-generation immigrants. Being able to take different cultural backgrounds, mix them with Canadian experience and apply it to North American market realities, has provided many solutions that we could have not been able to achieve without this melting pot type of approach.

Many of our long-term clients share this type of mixed background. Asian, African, South American and European influences can be found everywhere and this global diversity has made us stronger. It has allowed us to add to what makes Canada unique. Collectively, we feel blessed that we were allowed to settle here, and as a result, we have been able to blossom and provide jobs and opportunities for our fellow Canadians. That’s something undeniable, and perhaps often overlooked by the BMW (not a car brand acronym!) crowd.

Perhaps something to reflect on when celebrating Canada’s 150th.

– Martin van Zon