Canada’s wealthy immigrant program to make a comeback

by Jamie Henry01 Dec 2014
If you’re the kind of agent who believes in rumours, you might want to brush up on your Mandarin: the Canadian government is apparently planning a replacement immigrant investment program.
“There are a lot of immigrants who do have that kind of money,” says Francis Chiu, an agent in Toronto. “It’s great if you’re a real estate agent, [especially] if you work in an area where you know the values are going to go up.”
The original program, scrapped early this year, was criticized for essentially allowing wealth immigrants to buy their way into Canada. When the program was cancelled, thousands of backlogged applications – many of those from Chinese investors – were voided.
“[Wealthy immigrants] are inflating the values, so [the program] will impact the value of homes,” Chiu adds. “So when [the market] does correct, then I think we might be in a bigger correction than just a soft landing that everyone is saying.”
A spokesman for the Canadian immigration minister said details are still being finalized and wouldn’t elaborate on the new program. However, rumours have been circulating suggesting immigrants hoping to take advantage of the program would need to invest between $1 million and $2 million in the country by way of an interest free loan.
News of the replacement program, however, comes on the heels of a report by the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association suggesting venture capital fundraising declined 29 per cent year-to-date in the third quarter.
“[The government] relies on investments from these foreigners,” Chiu says. “We have a shortage of skilled workers… We do have a low birth rate. Our population growth has been diminished over the last 15 or 20 years...
“[The program] is good if you look at the overall purpose of getting investment into Canada and getting more skilled labourers and increasing the population... The government has to use whatever it has to improve GDP to improve infrastructure and healthcare, and if they have to get it outside of Canada, from immigrants who have money then I don’t see why not.”

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