Some Canadian Refugees Pay More Taxes Than Wealthy Investor Immigrants

immigrate to ontarioRefugees living in Canada who have arrived in the country over the last three decades have paid more in Canadian taxes than millionaire immigrant investors admitted under an immigration program that was cancelled last year.

Additionally, under the now defunct Immigrant Investor Program, few rich immigrant investors actually resided in Canada; those wealthy immigrants who did stay in Canada—the majority of whom were from Mainland China—declared very low incomes during their stay in the country. According to a report in the South China Morning Post, based on data provided by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the average Canadian income declared by wealthy immigrant investors during the life of that program ranged between $18,000-$25,000.

In addition, only about 39 percent of the wealthy immigrant investors admitted to Canada under the old program actually declared any income at all. The primary purpose of the now-disgraced program—which even the Conservative government said was a failure—was to generate both income and employment within Canada. As these statistics prove, in actuality it did neither.

In stark contrast to that, statistics also reveal that 66 percent of refugees admitted to Canada during that same period —who often arrived with little or no wealth—were paying income tax in less than 10 years after their arrival. And while refugees’ annual income started out at only $17,500 per year, their earnings eventually reached $30,000 per year—close to the national Canadian average income.

There had been considerable criticism of the immigrant investor program over the course of the entire initiative. It was first introduced back in 1980, and continued to operate straight through 2014, until its cancellation last year by the Conservative government.

During its operation, the program was responsible for admitting more than 180,000 wealthy immigrant investors into Canada, the vast majority of who arrived from either Hong Kong or Mainland China. In its early years, the program required an investment in Canada of at least $400,000—that figure was later raised to $800,000.

However, critics pointed out that the program did little to ensure that wealthy immigrants made any long-term connection or commitment to Canada. And statistics indicating that the majority of those admitted under the program did not even establish a permanent residency appear to prove that criticism as valid.

Last year, the Conservative government also announced the introduction of the new Immigrant Investor Venture Capital pilot program, as a means of replacing the previously canceled program. Under the new initiative, wealthy immigrants to Canada will be required to have a minimum net worth of at least $10 million and must be prepared to invest a minimum of $2 million, with no guarantee of any return on that investment.

The Canadian government began accepting applications for the new program back in January, but it has not as yet announced how many total applications it has received. Some immigration observers believe that the more stringent financial requirements will discourage wealthy investors from immigrating—and investing—in Canada.