Immigrants/1st Generation: 50% of high net-worth Canadians

You may have noticed that immigration has become a central theme of this blog.  Twenty years ago I was a fan of immigration but I worried – as do many – about the migration of immigrants out of New Brunswick not long after settling here because of a lack of opportunity.

In the last few years, I have done just about a 180 on this issue.  I now think the lack of immigration is a major cause of our economic malaise – not a symptom.

From a new BMO study out yesterday:

In one of the most comprehensive studies of our nation’s affluent, analysts report that two-thirds of Canada’s millionaires are self-made. Strikingly, almost half the nation’s high net-worth individuals are either immigrants or first-generation Canadians, compared to just one-third of millionaires in the U.S., and nearly seven in 10 of them generated their own riches.

“Canada has always been positioned as a place of opportunity; with this study, we’re able to validate that,” said Yannick Archambault, vice-president and chief operating officer of BMO Harris Private Banking, which commissioned the study. “[Immigrants] bring a strong work ethic, a lot of determination and entrepreneurship.”


This should be a wake up call to policy makers in this region.  If we want more ambitious entrepreneurship, if we want to build stronger trade and investment ties with the rest of the world, if we want to address our demographic challenges, if we want cultural and creative renewal, we are going to have to get serious about immigration.

8 thoughts on “Immigrants/1st Generation: 50% of high net-worth Canadians

  1. I think you are reading too much into this ‘study’, which is actually only an online questionnaire of 305 millionnaires. According to statscan the number of millionaires in Canada is 422,000, so you do the math. I have a pretty healthy distrust of any studies which are trumpeted WITHOUT the actual study being released.

    For ‘immigrant’ they are lumping together ANYBODY who has just ONE parent who was born outside of Canada. So heck, we could be talking about all old white guys who bought mail order trophy brides or something. And most of them were hardly ‘self made’ since 2/3 claim they were helped by a generous divorce settlement or inheritance.

    Your final comment is debateable. Given a town of 20,000 people, you can argue that if 5000 of them are millionaires, then everything is great. But thats not necessarily true. You certainly don’t need millionaires for ‘cultural and creative renewal’, in fact they usually bring the opposite. The Scandinavian economies have pretty low levels of extreme wealth at both ends of the spectrum, so millionaires CAN be the symptom of a dysfunctional economy like in the US. I can design an app myself and sell it online and make a million dollars-and that might just mean I LEAVE the maritimes.

    I also don’t think all those things can be lumped together. NB has a very vibrant cultural and creative society, that doesn’t mean its WEALTHY, and they don’t even need to be. You don’t even need ‘more ambitious entrepreneurs’. You simply need more entrepreneurs and in different sectors. Again, you can’t have entrepreneurship in technology sectors when there is a low percentage of people that know anything about those sectors. But its interesting that the National Post’s poster child for the survey is some lady who makes ‘fresh salads’. Now, that doesn’t seem to me to be particularly ambitious, increase trade with the outside world, bring ‘creative and cultural renewal’ OR address any demographic challenges.

    Also, I’ve read studies that show a higher proportion of the poor are immigrants, and although I don’t have the footnotes right now, those were statscan figures, not online surveys of a tiny subset of the population. So is it worth increasing immigration to get 1% millionaires and 20% poverty?

    Thats not to dismiss your point, but the conclusion that you HAVE to just get more immigrants and then everything will be great is pretty specious. In fact, its downright crazy (OK, so I AM dismissing your point, sorry). Here’s the scenario-people are leaving our area, therefore, we need to go out and get more people. Wouldn’t it make a bit more sense to simply try to stop all the people from leaving? Or are you that much of a snob that you WANT to get rid of population x and replace them with population y:) If you want to do that then that’s fine, but I hope you base it on more than this only questionnaire of, what, less than .01% of the survey group.

  2. I couldn’t agree more that immigration is a pressing concern for Atlantic Canada. I believe, however, that one of the roadblocks could be an entrenched insular Maritime attitude. As an imigrant from another province 17 years ago, I am still considered a Come From Away, i.e. not one of us. In my frequent travels across Nova Scotia often the first set of questions I am asked is “Where are you from?” and “Who’s your father?” The wrong answer will get me cold shouldered from that point on.

    Atlantic Canadians will have to smarten up and realize that without a stream of qualified immigrants adding to the economic base there will soon be no reason to come here at all.

  3. I’d really have to question that John. What exactly do you mean? I’m assuming you are stating that you said you came from somewhere else, and then…what? Did people raise their nose in the air and walk away from you?

    There is always a bit of mistrust amongst those who MOVE into an area. We were researching visiting Corsica next year, and read about how if you BOUGHT a home on the island and didn’t live there all year, they’d blow it up during the winter! Thats how much they distrust those ‘from away’, and supposedly those from PEI have had that in spades. But much of the acadian peninsula are cottagers, Moncton has a big immigrant population, and Saint John is fairly welcoming of just about anybody.

    Here in Waterloo its not much different. Having been involved in municipal politics, there are certain names that get you a pass. It is a highly german and mennonite area, so if your name is not Martin or end with ‘ger’, then you are considered ‘from away’. But a cold shoulder? Why would somebody even do that? We of course always had jokes about people from ontario being like americans, but certainly weren’t unfriendly-unless they were condescending first.

    And again I mention the example of FatKat, where all those people from Toronto absolutely loved living in the Miramichi, and many of them talked about being treated with TOO MUCH reverence. Heck, they often got free beers! But I’d need more details about a ‘cold shoulder’, I’ve never even HEARD of that, the maritimes are usually stereotypically friendly.

    And just to note, now that the economy has tanked in ontario, the same problem is occurring here. Not only are people from auto cities heading out west (Windsor is being depopulated faster than southern NB), but immigration has slowed so much that ontario is talking about setting up a provincial immigration program a la Manitoba.

    There are LOTS of reasons to encourage immigration, but I don’t think there is the data to draw Mr. Campbell’s conclusions about the NECESSITY of immigration. India and China and Brazil are powerhouses, and it certainly isn’t because of immigration. The auto sector is a big part of southern ontario and brings immigrants IN, not vice versa. Alberta has oil which draws immigrants, immigrants don’t draw oil.

  4. > I believe, however, that one of the roadblocks could be an entrenched insular Maritime attitude. As an imigrant from another province 17 years ago, I am still considered a Come From Away, i.e. not one of us.

    I second that. I’ve been here 11 years but I’m still from away.

  5. Are you guys running for office or something? Do people not invite you to parties or throw water on you or what. Can you not get a bank loan? What bonuses do you think you are missing out on because you aren’t considered “from here”.

    If you think its tough in New Brunswick, here’s from todays newsfeed:

    Teen allegedly bullied for being Canadian quits U.S. school

    “After going public with Noah’s story, his mother said the family is thinking of leaving Watertown, a community of about 30,000 residents, and moving back to Ottawa where they have relatives.

    “The backlash has been intense. I didn’t realize I guess how small Watertown is,” Kilpatrick said. “It’s become quite aggressive. I’ve never felt so ostracized or intimidated.”

  6. Meanwhile, there is this from todays telegraph:

    For the last 20 years, with the help of volunteers like Amirault, the YMCA-YWCA of Saint John has been helping newcomers through its Settlement Services department.

    “From the tears of arrival to ‘I want to go home’ to high school graduations, we’re with them every step of the way,” said Amirault.

    The idea is to create a welcoming environment from the minute they step off the plane, explained Jill Rogers, the Y’s director of Settlement Services.

    “People stay where they feel they belong,”said Rogers.

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