Bracing for mass migration . . .
While Hong Kong capital flows to Singapore, many Hong Kong residents could move back to Canada. There are currently more than 300,000 Canadian citizens living in Hong Kong. According to Statistics Canada, the number of Hong Kong-born people living in Canada steadily declined between 1996 and 2011, but from 2011 to 2016 the number of Hong Kong-born people residing in Canada increased. Canadian academics refer to this trend as ‘double-reverse migration’ – Hong Kong residents who first migrated to Canada during the 1990s and later returned to Hong Kong are now moving back to Canada. They also argue that uncertainties regarding Hong Kong’s political future and the desire for a comfortable retirement are likely fuelling this trend. A Vancouver immigration lawyer and other experts believe that if the political situation in Hong Kong continues to escalate, the number of returnees is likely to rise even further.
Contingency plans . . .
The Canadian government is preparing to address mass migration from Hong Kong, with an August 14 statement by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announcing that the government is working on contingency plans to assist Canadian citizens in the embattled city. However, the Minister did not provide specifics on how Canada is preparing to absorb a mass flow of new residents, particularly pertinent given just how linked Canada and Hong Kong are: currently, there are 31 direct flights per week between Hong Kong and Vancouver alone. Moreover, Canada is obligated by both Canadian and international law to receive its citizens and asylum seekers from Hong Kong.
The cost of housing . . .
If mass migration from Hong Kong takes place, many of the returnees are likely to settle in Vancouver. In the 2016 Census, of the 215,750 respondents listing Hong Kong as their place of birth, 74,210 lived in B.C. A new wave of returnees from Hong Kong could well create more demand for housing in Vancouver while supply remains notoriously low. And, this could potentially produce another spike in housing prices sparking social tensions. Both the Federal and B.C. government should work quickly to formulate a contingency plan to meet a sharp increase in housing demand, one that also meets the needs of any Canadian citizens in Hong Kong and Hong Kongers seeking asylum.
- CBC: Canadian expats consider leaving Hong Kong amid political turmoil, safety concerns
- Global News: B.C. experts predict ‘mass migration’ of expats from Hong Kong over extradition bill protests
- South China Morning Post: Thousands of Hong Kong-Born People Move Back to Canada, Once Again Reversing a Migration that Has Shaped Cities Across the Pacific