November 20, 2020

Canada Announces Plans to Support Economic Recovery Through Immigration

Canada recently announced a three-year Immigration Levels Plan, outlining objectives to increase immigration levels to support economic recovery following Covid-19, drive future growth and create jobs for middle class Canadians.

In many countries, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the contribution immigrants make to the day-to-day running of communities and the economy, particularly in the areas of local healthcare, food supply chain maintenance and farming. In Canada, immigrants represent 33% of business owners with a salaried workforce, and 25% of workers in the healthcare sector. Foreign nationals not only help supplement skill shortages, but also provide fresh talent to support the expansion of local businesses, creating employment opportunities for locals.

The Honorable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship stated “Canadians have seen how newcomers are playing an outsized role in our hospitals and care homes, and helping us to keep food on the table…Our plan will help to address some of our most acute labor shortages and to grow our population to keep Canada competitive on the world stage”.

The Canadian plan forecasts the number of permanent residents the authorities will permit into the country from 2021-2023, setting targets for the overall number of entrants and specifying figures for several immigration categories, including economic, family, refugee and those entering on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Targets are established with the goal of fairly representing the interests of multiple stakeholders and involve extensive interaction and consultation with local provincial and territorial representatives, as well as research into public opinion.

Despite the fact that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has continued to accept and process immigration applications, Covid-19-related entry restrictions and administrative challenges have resulted in a shortfall in the number of admissions into Canada this year. The 2021‒2023 Immigration Levels Plans have been designed to address the shortage, ensuring arriving immigrants will fill skill and labor market gaps by making up approximately one percent of the Canadian population. This includes a projected 401,000 permanent residents in 2021, 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023.

It is reported that the only other time that the number of immigrants surpassed 400,000 in a single year was in 1913, when Canada admitted 401,000 newcomers. The projection of these historically high numbers also bears in mind two key demographic trends that are putting additional strains on Canada’s economic growth: its aging population, with nearly 18 percent of its citizens aged 65 and over, and low birth rate of 1.47 per woman—one of the world’s lowest. The proposed increase in the number of immigrants could help to alleviate both of these challenges  as well.

Highlights of the 2021‒2023 Immigration Levels Plan include:

    • A three-year, phased approach to increase immigration admissions to make up the 2020 shortfall
    • A focus on economic growth, with about 60% of admissions to come from the Economic Class
    • A continued focus on innovative and community-driven approaches to address diverse local labor and demographic needs across the country
    • A renewed commitment to capacity-building and a digital transformation of Canada’s immigration system, to support operations and mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 on the processing of applications
    • Additional points for French-speaking candidates under Express Entry, to promote the growth of Francophone communities outside of Quebec
    • A commitment to admit up to 500 refugees over the next two years through the Economic Mobility Pathways Project, an innovative approach that helps qualified refugees apply for permanent residence through existing economic immigration pathways
    • A pathway to permanent residency for eligible asylum claimants who were working on the front lines of the pandemic between March 13 and August 14, 2020, providing direct care to patients in healthcare institutions

The new measures have been made with a keen focus on family reunion, supporting refugees and filling 2020 shortfalls in the Canadian labor market. Simultaneously, the health, safety and security of Canadians remain top priorities, and Canada has worked to strengthen border health screening and follow public health official recommendations as entrants continue to be accepted.

For further information on Canada’s plans for immigration in the coming years, please contact the Sterling Lexicon immigration team.

Leanne Cottrell

Leanne Cottrell

As Head of Immigration with Sterling Lexicon, Leanne leads a team of specialists who are responsible for ensuring the entire immigration process is smooth and stress-free for clients, assignees and their accompanying family members. She brings over ten years of experience in strategic immigration management, planning and consultation to her role, and has cultivated invaluable knowledge and experience in processing countless global migration applications. As a trusted partner, she consults with clients on everything from policy considerations and cost or efficiency improvements, to the impact of opening offices in new locations. Leanne is a frequent presenter and author on global immigration topics and trends.

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