Originally Posted by Aylmer
No one is a lifelong taxpayer. Before any of us got our first T4, we were children. Economically, we were contributing nothing, earning nothing and costing society dearly in free healthcare, free dental care, free education and subsidized activities for the better part of 16-20 years.
Someone who immigrates here is a fiscal gift - already educated and raised on a different government's dime, and ready to get to work and pay taxes here. If they require a few months or years of assistance, it still works out in our fiscal favour.
It's important for us all remember that any of us born here were ungrateful freeloaders for about two decades before becoming "lifelong taxpayers".
When I said "lifelong taxpayer" I was implying an individual who followed these typical and obvious transitions through life. Maybe a more complete way of putting it would have been "lifelong citizen and taxpayer". I know that I did not receive a T4 when I was 5.
An immigrant may or may not be a fiscal gift.
If an immigrant merely displaces a Canadian-born citizen from a job, they're not a gift. If they are educated but fail to earn an above-average income, they're not a gift. If they bring in family members, they can easily become a net drain on the system. If they leave and earn money elsewhere but don't report it, they can easily be a drain. If they have significant capital and engage in speculation here, they can be a net loss for the country.
My point is that it's actually pretty hard to ensure that immigration works well (good luck getting bureaucrats to optimally target immigrants at specific industries, for example). And the goal of ensuring that it pays off economically is incompatible with the ideal of keeping the country as open as possible or helping people as much as possible.