Canada raises immigration targets to record level, eyeing COVID-19 recovery

Will be interesting to observe the range of commentary on these ambitious targets. Hard to square this with Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem’s warning that the economy is unlikely to get back on track until 2023. Moreover, previous downturns and recessions tell us that immigrants who arrive during difficult economic times suffer economically in both the short and longer term::

In the midst of a second wave of COVID-19, Canada isn’t just maintaining its immigration strategy, but taking it up a notch, increasing the number of people it will bring into the country in a bid to stimulate the post-pandemic economic recovery.

On Friday, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Canada will welcome more than 1.2 million new immigrants over the next three years, with an annual intake that could reach 401,000 in 2021; 411,000 in 2022; and 421,000 in 2023 — equivalent to one per cent of the population.

The previous plan, unveiled right before the onset of the pandemic lockdown in March, set targets of 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022.

“Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth. 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,” Mendicino said.

“Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth. 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,” Mendicino said.

“As we look to recovery, newcomers create jobs not just by giving our businesses the skills they need to thrive, but also by starting businesses themselves. Our plan will help to address some of our most acute labour shortages and to grow our population to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.”

The much anticipated 2021-23 immigration plan was tabled amid a cloud of uncertainty over Canada’s economic future in the middle of a global pandemic that has seen the country’s jobless rate surged to nine per cent last month from 5.6 per cent before the pandemic. It peaked at 13.4 per cent in May.

The government’s immigration strategy has been consistent with the approach taken by successive governments to keep intake high during recessions since the late 1980s, when prime minister Brian Mulroney’s government first used immigration to withstand the economic slowdown in 1990s and 2000s.

Canada was on track to bring in 341,000 newcomers this year; 351,000 in 2021; and 361,000 in 2022 — with about 58 per cent of the intake being skilled immigrants, 26 per cent under family reunification and the remaining 26 per cent as refuges or on humanitarian grounds.

However, due to travel restrictions, reduced application processing capacity and flight cancellations, only 60 per cent or some 200,000 are expected to have made it to Canada by this year’s end.

The new plan hopes to make up the shortfall over the next three years, with 60 per cent of the intake coming from economic class, 30 per cent from family reunification and 10 per cent under refugee protection and resettlement.

Last month, Statistics Canada’s latest demographic update showed the country’s population has reached 38 million but only recorded a 0.1 per cent growth or an increase of 25,384 persons between April and June — the lowest since 1972 — because of the pandemic.

In contrast, the growth rate stood at 0.5 per cent in each of the past two years at this time. In 2019, immigration accounted for 86.5 per cent of Canada’s population growth in the second quarter. This year, that dropped to 38.2 per cent (an addition of 9,700 persons).

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/10/30/canada-raises-immigration-targets-to-record-level-eyeing-covid-19-recovery.html?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=SocialMedia&utm_campaign=National&utm_content=canadaraises

The full report and related material: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/notices/supplementary-immigration-levels-2021-2023.html

Pre-release commentary by the Conservative and NDP immigration critics:

Conservative immigration critic Raquel Dancho said that whatever the Trudeau government announces today, it must have a concrete plan for bringing people safely into the country during a pandemic and for integrating them into Canadian society.

She said the backlog of applicants has grown during the pandemic.

“The immigration system has not been well-managed, I think to say the least, in the last eight months. So I will be looking for some sort of plan for how they’re going to improve it,” Dancho said.

“The number can be whatever it’s going to be, but unless they bring forward a plan for how they’re going to change course and get better at processing immigration applications, it’s really all for nothing.”

Dancho said Canadians must have a clear explanation of how immigration targets will meet Canada’s labour needs while upholding its humanitarian commitments.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan urged the government to increase its capacity to help vulnerable people in need of protection in Canada, noting that persecution abroad has not stopped during the pandemic.

She said Canada also should give permanent residence status to people who want it and are already in the country, such as temporary foreign workers and international students with job offers.

“Canada can, in fact, take a true humanitarian approach by regularizing all those immigrants and refugees and undocumented people,” she said.

Source: Federal government to announce new immigration targets today

And Quebec continuing to have relatively low immigration targets, making the demographic gap between Quebec and the rest of Canada continue to grow:

Quebec could welcome between 44,500 and 47,500 immigrants in 2021.

The immigration targets for 2021 were announced as part of the Plan d’immigration du Québec 2021, released on October 29. This report coincides with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada‘s (IRCC) announcement of its multi-year plan, which is expected this week and will guide Canada’s immigration planning for 2021 to 2023.

In 2021, the majority of new admissions to Quebec — 62 per cent — are expected to come through the province’s economic immigration programs.

The new Quebec immigration levels represent a slight increase over its 2020 targets when Quebec’s goal was to welcome between 43,000 and 44,500 immigrants.

According to estimates in the plan released today, Quebec will admit a maximum of 30,500 immigrants this year, instead of the projected maximum of 44,500. The province says travel restrictions and the closure of federal offices and processing centres around the world make it difficult to meet immigration targets for 2020.

However, the province’s immigration ministry said its targets for 2021 include a rebalancing plan “with the admission of an additional 7,000 people, representing the deferment of some of the admissions that were not fulfilled in 2020 due to the health crisis.”

As a result of the health crisis, the province estimates the number of unrealized admissions in 2020 to be between 13,000 and 18,000 but plans to make up the shortfall over the next two years.

Quebec’s Admissions targets for 2021

For 2021, Quebec has set a range of between 27,500 and 29,300 new admissions for its economic immigration programs, including a maximum of 24,200 skilled workers.

The province has also set a maximum of 4,300 admissions for its business immigration programs, which include Quebec’s Entrepreneur Program and the Self-Employed Worker Program.

In addition, a maximum of 800 admissions is set for “other economic categories” such as live-in caregivers and others.

Another 10,200 new permanent residents are expected to arrive through family sponsorship, refugee and other immigration programs.

2021 Quebec Selection Certificate targets

Under the provisions of the Canada-Quebec Accord, Quebec has the power to select all economic class immigrants and certain refugees to the province.

Those selected are awarded a Quebec Selection Certificate (Certificat de sélection du Québec, or CSQ) and can then apply to Canada’s federal government for a permanent residence visa.

Quebec’s plan calls for 26,500 to 31,200 selection certificates to be issued in 2021, slightly more than its 2020 plan, which called for a range of 20,100 to 24,700.

The majority — up to 22,400 — would go to skilled worker candidates.

The selection certificate targets are as follows:

  • Skilled workers: between 19,400 and 22,400;
  • Business immigrants: between 1,500 and 2,300;
  • Other economic immigrants: between 400 and 600;
  • Refugees selected abroad: between 4,400 and 4,700;
  • Other immigrants: between 800 and 1,200.

The targets set for 2021 include applications in process or waiting to be processed in Quebec and at the federal level. They also take into consideration the time it takes for candidates to complete all the immigration procedures.

Source: Quebec extends immigration targets into 2021

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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