Mikal Skuterud on Canada’s immigration system

We sat down with Mikal Skuterud on Free Lunch By The Peak to dive into how the Canadian immigration system works, and his argument on why and how it should change for the better. 

How does our immigration system work?

“The Canadian immigration system has three main pathways: Humanitarian, family, and economic. The economic path focuses on improving the Canadian economy by boosting the country's GDP per capita and improving overall living standards. The goal is to increase the size of the economic pie, and it has become the largest part of the system.”

Are there downsides to prioritizing economic paths? 

“I think it's a problem that the share of humanitarian immigrants is falling. If you're going to increase the number of people selected, and if the applicant pool stays the same, you've got to get lower-quality students. We could theoretically improve the selection process by utilizing additional information about applicants to better predict their future success.”

Does immigration impact Canadian wages? 

“No one really knows. Workers with skills that compete with immigrants may experience wage suppression, while those with different skills could benefit from more people to fill productivity-enhancing roles. Historically, Canada's prioritization of high-skilled immigrants has reduced inequality because it creates downward pressure on the highest wages.” 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. You can listen to the episode here, or search "Free Lunch by The Peak" wherever you listen to podcasts.