Why Canada has emerged as one of the top choices for Indian immigrants

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On Monday, 17 Indo-Canadians, including New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, won Canada's parliamentary elections on Monday with Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returning to power in the snap polls.

The elections once again reflect the power the Indian diaspora holds in the country.

Indians in Canada

According to Statistics Canada, Indian-Canadians are one of the fastest growing communities in Canada, making up the second largest non-European group after Chinese Canadians.

Canada contains the world's eighth largest Indian diaspora. The highest concentrations of Indian Canadians are found in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia, followed by growing communities in Alberta and Quebec as well, with the majority of them being foreign-born.

According to a Forbes report, the number of Indians who became permanent residents in Canada increased from 39,340 in 2016 to 80,685 in 2019, an increase of more than 105 percent.

With such high numbers, it is no surprise that the community also has good representation politically.

In 2019's federal elections, 23 Indo-Canadians were elected as MPs against the 21 elected in 2015, of which 18 had a Punjab connect.

In 2021's parliamentary elections, 17 Indo-Canadians have won -- including Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Anita Anand and Bardish Chagger, as well as 42-year-old New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh.

In fact, Jagmeet Singh made history by becoming the first non-white leader of a federal party in Canada in 2017.

Why Canada?

Things have changed a lot since 1904 when the first documented immigrants from the Indian subcontinent arrived in Vancouver and carved out a space for themselves there.

Today, the situation is very different and Canada sees a high number of Indians migrating to Canada for better job prospects and an overall better life.

A low unemployment rate of 5.67 percent even during the COVID-19 pandemic makes Canada an attractive place for immigrants.

Moreover, university tuition fees is cheaper in Canada than the US by a whopping 27 percent.

Canada is also ranked as one of the safest places globally. The Global Peace Index in 2021 stated that Canada was the sixth safest country in the world. Canada received particularly good scores for internal conflicts, levels of crime, and political stability.

Canada also has some of the most notoriously friendly people in the world.

Canada has a crime rate that is about one-third that of its neighbour, the United States (1.6 incidents per 100,000 vs 4.5 per 100,000 respectively).

In a 2018 Gallup survey, 84 percent of Canadians surveyed said that they felt safe in their country.

Moreover, the World Happiness Report 2020 released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network ranked Canada as the eleventh 'most happiest' country is the world, higher than the US, the UK and Germany.

Many attribute the stunning increase in immigration from India to Canada owing to the issues faced by Indians to obtain or review their H-1B visas in the United States. "Canada is benefiting from a diversion of young Indian tech workers from US destinations, largely because of the challenges of obtaining and renewing H-1B visits and finding a reliable route to US permanent residence," Peter Rekai, founder of Toronto-based immigration law firm Rekai LLP, was quoted as telling Forbes Magazine.

Canadian polls and what it means for Indians

Historically, Canada has viewed immigration as a means to enhance population, economic, and cultural growth. Unlike the US, where immigration generates considerable political tension, there is significant consensus in Canada on the value of immigration, particularly for addressing the challenges of an ageing population and a low birth rate.

However, there are calls in Canada to diversify its migration pool, with greater representation of countries other than India.

But these voices remain a minority. So far, no major political party has proposed country-based quotas, such as those in the US.

Regardless of what happens on 20 September, Indians will likely continue to be welcomed to Canada in the coming years, both as students and permanent residents.

With inputs from agencies

Also See: Canada elections: Justin Trudeau may cling to power but unlikely to secure majority

Why Canada's Justin Trudeau is falling behind in polls less than a week before elections

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