Immigration Plan 2022-24: Reports and Reactions

Expect to see more detailed analysis and commentary over coming days to round out the initial reporting.

Overall, the plan continues the government strategy of growing the economy through growing the numbers of immigrants.

This reflects the various interests of the “immigration industry” and business: more bodies means more consumers, more work for immigration lawyers and consultants, more funding for settlement organizations, more research opportunities for academics etc.

Not surprisingly, no questioning of these perspectives in articles and commentary to date (see my earlier Increasing immigration to boost population? Not so fast.). The government strategy continues to be based on overall GDP growth, not per capita GDP growth and productivity, a long standing issue that governments have tried to address with limited to no success.

The articles below capture some of the aspects which groups and individuals quoted have raised as concerns, but these are all in the context of general suppoort.

In terms of the politics of the plan, unlikely that this will create many issues for the government. The NDP generally supports higher numbers and the Conservatives will likely continue to focus on implementation and administrative issues, given the backlogs and that this is much safer than engaging in a debate over numbers, given their vulnerability to charges of being anti-immigration (unfair IMO but too tempting a target for the Liberals given the Conservatives still wear the legacy of the “barbaric practices tip line” and other ill-thought political messaging).

Given the overall shorter-term perspective of most immigration analysis and commentary, I continue to advocate for a royal commission or equivalent for a more independent and thorough look at immigration policy and programs with a longer-term perspective.

Media articles and commentary to date (nothing negative so far but expect some in more right leaning media and will continue to monitor):

The Star:

Canada plans to welcome more than 1.3 million new immigrants to the country over the next three years to help its economy recover from COVID-19 and to drive future growth.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser’s multi-year immigration-levels plan was announced Monday.

“If we’re not ready to significantly increase our ambition when it comes to immigration, we are going to be in a position where our economy will suffer, and it could put into jeopardy so many of the public services and social supports that make me very proud to be Canadian,” Fraser said.

But the plan comes amid calls from critics for the federal government to first reduce the ballooning backlog of 1.8 million applications piling up in the system as a result of slowed processing capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new plan calls for an annual intake that will reach 431,645 in 2022; 447,055 in 2023; and 451,000 in 2024 — equivalent to 1.14 per cent of the population by 2024.

This year, the number of new permanent residents will include 241,850 from the economic class; 105,000 through family reunification; and 76,545 as refugees and protected persons.

Canada reached its 2021 goal — bringing in a record 405,000 newcomers — largely by granting permanent residence to migrants such as international students and foreign workers who were already in Canada and therefore not hampered by pandemic travel restrictions and border closures.

However, the disruptions caused by COVID-19 here and abroad — and the unexpected Afghan refugee crisis — have created an unprecedented backlog in the immigration system that experts believe will take at least three years to clear.

As of December, there were 548,195 pending permanent residence applications; 775,741 temporary residence applications, including study and work permits; and 468,000 citizenship applications in the queue for processing.

Fraser said he hopes to rein in the backlog through additional hiring and by modernizing processing through new digital platforms.

The new plan will change the composition of the intake slightly this year, with the share of economic and skilled immigrants down from 60 per cent to 56 per cent. The portion of newcomers under the family class will also fall from 26 per cent to 24 per cent, while the ratio of refugees will go from 14 to 20 per cent.

Immigration policy analyst Kareem El-Assal said he’s unsure how reducing the share of economic migrants to Canada is going to benefit the country’s economy, which faces a labour shortage equivalent to nearly one million jobs.

“That’s what they’re trying to tell us. And then you look at the numbers and you see that’s not what’s happened,” said El-Assal, managing editor of immigration news site CIC News and policy director at CanadaVisa.com.

“You don’t have to spin anything for us. Just tell us, ‘This is what we’re doing temporarily. We’re going to be reducing the economic class share and the family class share temporarily for two years so that we can accommodate more refugees.’”

Calling the government plan “ambitious,” Ravi Jain of the Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association said he was concerned about reducing the permanent residence quota for federal high skilled workers by half, from 111,000 to 55,900.

During the pandemic, many international students have been unable to earn the job experience they need to qualify for permanent residence despite the high tuition fees they have paid. Jain said Ottawa needs an immediate plan to extend their work permits in Canada.

“They’re going to be waiting potentially a few years and they’re going to need the status to be able to buy that time,” said the Toronto lawyer. “There are some major concerns around what to do about the people who are here and who won’t necessarily have a pathway for permanent residence.”

The federal government has devoted $827.3 million over five years to enable the department to develop and deliver an enterprise-wide digital platform, with an additional $85 million to hire staff to reduce backlogs.

But the system hasn’t transformed fast enough to meet the insatiable demand for immigration to Canada.

Shamira Madhany, managing director of World Education Services, said Canada can’t rest on its laurels, as other countries are also competing for skilled talents for their post-COVID economic recovery.

“What Canada has done here is basically saying, ‘Our borders are open for immigration,’” said Madhany. “In terms of our capacity (to absorb immigrants), it’s a different question. We need to make sure we have mechanisms and tools in place to leverage their prior skills and experience. We don’t want highly skilled people to come here to do low-skilled jobs.”

MP Jenny Kwan, the NDP immigration critic, said Fraser’s plan shows a continuation of the Liberals’ Band-Aid approach to systemic immigration problems.

“The government simply cannot continue to shift resources and immigration levels from one stream to another. This pattern of behaviour has and will continue to create further problems and chaos in the system,” said Kwan.

Source: Canada wants to welcome 1.3 million newcomers over three years — but can its immigration system keep up?

Globe and Mail:

The federal government aims to welcome nearly 432,000 immigrants to Canada this year, as a part of a three-year plan to fill critical labour-market gaps and support a post-pandemic economic recovery.

The annual immigration levels plan, tabled in Parliament Monday, projects Canada will admit 431,645 permanent residents in 2022, followed approximately by 447,000 in 2023 and 451,000 in 2024. The majority of the permanent resident spots – 56 per cent – will be designated for immigrants coming to Canada to fill job vacancies this year.

Speaking to The Globe and Mail, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how key immigrants are to Canada’s success, as newcomers fill many front-line jobs.

“When I talk to restaurants, machine shops, health care providers or virtually any other business, I see help-wanted signs in windows,” Mr. Fraser said.

“By launching what is the most ambitious immigration plan in the history of Canada, we are going to equip the Canadian economy with the workers it needs.”

Ottawa says immigration accounts for 100 per cent of labour-force growth and, with five million Canadians set to retire by the end of this decade, the worker-to-retiree ratio will drop – demonstrating the need for increased immigration.

Goldy Hyder, president and chief executive officer of the Business Council of Canada, said the number of job vacancies in the country is near an all-time high and immigration will be a key driver of pandemic recovery. He welcomed the government’s immigration targets Monday, but he said the plan must be supported by increased processing capability and supports for newcomers.

“To help meet these new targets, we urge the government to expand the immigration system’s processing capacity by adding new processing centres, updating outdated IT systems, and increasing recruitment and training of border agents and settlement services personnel. A growing workforce should also be accompanied by increased investments in public services, housing, and infrastructure,” Mr. Hyder said in a statement.

Mr. Fraser said the government recently hired 500 new processing staff and set aside $85-million in new funding to reduce application backlogs.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan urged the government to introduce special immigration levels to give the 500,000 migrant workers already in Canada a path to settlement and help address the labour-skill shortage.

While the government plans to increase the number of economic immigrants it welcomes to Canada over the next three years, from nearly 242,000 this year to more than 267,000 in 2024, it will simultaneously reduce the number of refugees to whom it offers safe haven. Canada will resettle approximately 77,000 refugees this year, 74,000 in 2023 and 62,500 in 2024. Mr. Fraser said resettlement numbers will gradually decrease as Canada follows through with its commitment to resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees over the next two years. More than 7,550 Afghan refugees have been resettled in Canada since last August.

The reduction in refugee-resettlement targets – particularly the government’s plan to accept more privately sponsored refugees than government-assisted refugees – has sparked concern for advocates.

“The responsibility to resettle refugees lies with the government – to reflect that responsibility, the government should resettle more refugees than private citizens. Yet the levels show private sponsors are being asked to do one and a half times as much resettlement as the government,” the Canadian Council for Refugees said in a statement.

Overall immigration levels have grown substantially since the Liberals took power in 2015. Numbers continued to grow until 2020, when Canada only admitted 184,500 newcomers because of the challenges posed by the pandemic. Shuttered overseas visa offices, closed borders, quarantine restrictions and challenges booking flights heavily affected the immigration system.

Immigration numbers rebounded in 2021, when Canada welcomed 405,000 new permanent residents – breaking the all-time record set in 1913. The majority of the newcomers were already in Canada on temporary status, including temporary foreign workers in the skilled trades, health care and technology, and international students.

The government has not tabled an immigration levels plans since October, 2020. It normally announces it immigration targets by Nov. 1, but last year’s plan was delayed because of the federal election.

Source: Canada aims to welcome 432,000 immigrants in 2022 as part of three-year plan to fill labour gaps

Le Devoir

Ottawa espère également atteindre enfin sa cible d’immigration francophone hors Québec en 2023, soit 4,4 % de toutes les admissions, une cible ratée depuis des années selon le commissaire aux langues officielles.


En 2020, 184 606 résidents permanents ont été enregistrés au Canada, c’est-à-dire beaucoup moins que la cible annoncée de 341 000, confirme également ce rapport annuel. Ce nombre, selon le ministre Fraser, est néanmoins un « succès impressionnant compte tenu des fermetures et des restrictions frontalières » dues à la pandémie, y écrit-il.


Pour cette même année, on a compté 326 116 titulaires de permis de travail temporaire au pays, ce qui illustre une autre tendance lourde, soit l’augmentation des catégories temporaires. Ce qui s’appelle le « solde de résidents non permanents » représentait 1,3 million de personnes au 1er janvier 2020, selon des informations communiquées précédemment par le ministère fédéral de l’Immigration au Devoir. Les détenteurs de titre de séjour temporaire, toutes catégories de permis confondues, représentaient ainsi près de 3,5 % de la population totale la même année.


Il s’agissait lundi de la première annonce officielle de cibles depuis octobre 2020. En décembre dernier, le ministre Fraser avait affirmé dans une entrevue au Devoir vouloir être le gouvernement le plus ambitieux de tous les temps en matière d’immigration.


Pour 2021, il estime avoir atteint « cette réalisation historique » en accueillant plus de 401 000 nouveaux résidents permanents, avait-il annoncé par communiqué. La majorité de ces personnes était déjà à l’intérieur des frontières sous un statut temporaire et a accédé à la permanence par divers programmes.


Le record précédent datait de 1913, quand 400 900 nouveaux immigrants permanents avaient foulé le sol canadien. Le pays comptait alors seulement 7,6 millions d’habitants ; cet afflux représentait donc une proportion plus importante de sa population totale, soit plus de 5 %. En comparaison, la cible d’immigration pour 2022 équivaut à 1 % de tous les Canadiens.

Source: Ottawa dévoile des cibles d’immigration encore plus ambitieuses

New Canadian Media

Canada aims to attract about 1.3 million new immigrants over the next three years to help fill critical labour shortages and fuel post-pandemic growth.

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) Sean Fraser announced the new targets on Monday as the government struggles to clear a backlog of about 1.8 million visa/citizenship and other applications in the queue exacerbated by pandemic-induced delays.

At the same time, the latest numbers from Statistics Canada show that job vacancies in the country remain high, with 874,700 unfilled positions.

In a statement, IRCC said there are still hundreds of thousands of positions in all sectors waiting to be filled. 

Immigrants  needed

“Immigration already accounts for almost 100% of labour force growth, and with 5 million Canadians set to retire by the end of this decade, the worker to retiree ratio will drop down to only 3:1,”  it said. “This is a clear sign that we have a strong economic need for increased immigration.”

The 2022–2024 Immigration Levels Plan aims to continue welcoming immigrants at a rate of about 1 per cent of Canada’s population, including 431,645 permanent residents in 2022 (an increase of about 21,000 people from its original plan), 447,055 in 2023, and 451,000 in 2024. 

“From farming and fishing to manufacturing, healthcare and the transportation sector, Canada relies on immigrants. Setting bold new immigration targets, as outlined in the 2022-2024 Levels Plan, will further help bring the immeasurable contribution of immigrants to our communities and across all sectors of the economy,” Fraser said during the announcement.

To support the new ambitious targets, which follows a record year of 405,000 new permanent residents in 2021, IRCC had earlier announced a plantomodernize Canada’s immigration system to fuel economic recovery and improve client experience.

Veteran Vancouver-based immigration lawyer, Richard Kurland, told  NCM  that “IRCC is banking on new information technology to deliver an aggressive program that will be faster for applicants and cheaper for government.”

“The objective is to have more people here, in less time, at less cost,” he said.

Goldy Hyder, president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, said “even with full employment, the country will need newcomers to help fill all the jobs available.”

“To help meet these new targets, we urge the government to expand the immigration system’s processing capacity by adding new processing centres, updating outdated IT systems, and increasing recruitment and training of border agents and settlement services personnel,” Hyder said in a statement.

Perpetuating problems’

Jenny Kwan, the Vancouver East MP, who also acts as the NDP Immigration Critic, said the government is actually scaling back the Federal Skilled Workers Program by almost 50 per cent by shifting resources and immigration levels from one stream to another. 

“The immigration levels released today shows that the government is perpetuating the problems they created when they failed to adjust the levels to accommodate the new (temporary to permanent resident pathway) immigration measure,” she said.

The measure, also known as TR2PR, is a limited-time pathway to permanent residence applicable only to temporary residents currently working in Canada and to their families.

According to a government memo cited by the National Post, the federal skilled workers program was being scaled back because IRCC simply can’t process the applications quickly enough. 

It also said the “reductions are due to admissions space required to accommodate the TR2PR stream and the resettlement of Afghan nationals to Canada.”

“This pattern of behaviour has and will continue to create further problems and chaos in the system,” Kwan told New Canadian Media in an email.

The Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA) said it is pleased with the modest newcomer increase announced today, adding it will give IRCC time to improve its client experience, tackle its backlogs, and make the technological modernizations necessary to better manage the system moving forward.

However, it is calling for IRCC, in conjunction with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), to immediately expand the list of occupations eligible for premium processing under the Global Talent Stream.  

According to CILA, an added support for Canadian employers would be for IRCC and ESDC to waive national recruitment requirements for all occupations processed under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program where labour shortages are well documented by industry.

“By immediately helping employers address their labour needs over the next two years or more, IRCC and ESDC can reduce government red tape that only serves to delay and frustrate international recruitment,” the association said.

A visa as Valentine’s

Meanwhile, IRCC’s Valentine’s Day message on its Facebook site has been met with derision from those in limbo waiting for their visa, PR cards and citizenship documents.

Mahmoud AR wrote “ How about you guys give me a Valentine’s day gift by finishing my 30 month application for citizenship?”

“Please give my wife (a) visa as Valentine’s gift,” said Pargat Gill

Mary Joy Lee responded “Roses are red, Violets are blue, Finish Applications that are delayed & overdue.”

Source: Canada eyes 1.3 million immigrants to overcome labour pains

And among the advocates, starting with CILA:

The Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA) is pleased with the modest newcomer increase announced today under the new Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024. 

The gradual increase will give Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) time to improve its client experience, tackle its backlogs, and make the technological modernizations necessary to better manage the immigration system moving forward.

The new levels plan is beneficial to families and will provide safety to more refugees. On the other hand, CILA regrets that economic class immigrants will be negatively impacted by this plan as IRCC looks to reduce its backlogs. CILA once again calls on IRCC to share its backlog reduction plan so that applicants know where they stand in the queue.

Economic Class 

Express Entry: CILA is disappointed with the halving of Express Entry admissions in 2022 and calls on IRCC to reverse course by immediately resuming invitations to Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates.

FSWP candidates have unfairly paid the price throughout the pandemic. This has included expired holders of Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) being neglected at the start of the pandemic, FSWP processing being significantly reduced in 2021, and IRCC pausing invitations to FSWP candidates since December 2020.

Welcoming more immigrants under the FSWP is key to supporting Canada’s labour force and economic growth. Temporarily cutting Express Entry admissions will undermine IRCC’s stated goal of strengthening the labour force via immigration. 

Ongoing disruptions to the FSWP will also hurt Canada’s international competitiveness as global talent will be forced to look elsewhere due to dimmer prospects for them in Canada over the next two years.

While it is good news that IRCC plans to bring Express Entry levels back to normal by 2024, this will be of little comfort to the many Canadian employers in desperate need of talent to address their immediate labour shortages.

The halving of Express Entry admissions this year will also be of grave consequence to Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates. The pause in CEC invitations since September 2021 is creating significant hardship for thousands of international students and temporary foreign workers who have spent years contributing to Canada’s economy and society, and who now have fewer permanent residence spots available to them. Many such individuals risk losing their legal status in Canada which may cause them to leave the country. This will also hurt Canadian employers and the economy. CILA calls on IRCC to quickly offer bridging permits to those with Express Entry profiles who have jobs, regardless of whether they have received an Express Entry Invitation to Apply. Alternatively, IRCC could re-introduce a one-time extension to Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders like it did in early 2021.

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP): CILA is pleased to see that IRCC will be increasing its PNP admissions targets from 80,000 to 93,000 immigrants by 2024. Since its launch in 1998, the PNP has been successful in promoting a broader distribution of immigration across Canada and addressing local labour market needs. The PNP is crucial to regions across the country amid labour shortages caused by Canada’s aging population and shifts to the economy amid the pandemic.

Start-up Visa Program: CILA believes processing times for Canada’s Start-up Visa Program (SUVP) are not globally competitive and is disappointed to see that admission targets remain unchanged under the new levels plan. IRCC has noted that processing times for the SUVP are now up to six years which is far too slow to support an innovation-driven economy.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP): The new immigration levels plan is ambitious and is premised on acute labour shortages across Canada. Employers experiencing labour shortages need continued access to international talent to meet the demand for their products and services in Canada and international markets. To complement the new levels plans, IRCC in conjunction with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) should immediately expand the list of occupations eligible for premium processing under the Global Talent Stream. IRCC should immediately devote resources to applications eligible for two week processing under the Global Skills Strategy (GSS). Pending applications under the GSS remain backlogged by several months thereby negating the purpose of introducing the GSS.

An added support for Canadian employers would be for IRCC and ESDC to waive national recruitment requirements for all occupations processed under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) where labour shortages are well documented by industry and government data. A good practice that can be replicated across Canada is the Quebec List of Occupations Eligible for Facilitated Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs). By immediately helping employers address their labour needs over the next two years or more, IRCC and ESDC can reduce government red tape that only serves to delay and frustrate international recruitment.

Family Class 

Spouses and Partners: CILA reiterates its call for IRCC to extend its Spousal Open Work Permit Pilot Program to spouses and partners living outside of Canada. It is unfair to offer work permits to inland sponsorship applicants as well as the partners of study and work permit holders, but force outland sponsorship applicants to remain separated or unemployed while inside Canada. Allowing spouses and common-law partners to work would allow these applicants to contribute to the labour market immediately. In addition, CILA hopes IRCC will achieve its goal of returning to a 12-month service standard for spousal sponsorship applications by the end of this year.

Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP): The increase in Canada’s PGP intake over the coming years is welcome and will help to support families across the country. At the same time, CILA encourages IRCC to consult widely on how to effectively manage the PGP moving forward.

Refugee and Humanitarian Class

Afghan refugees: CILA welcomes the Canadian government’s desire to fulfill its international humanitarian obligations by welcoming more refugees. CILA hopes Canada will be able to resettle Afghan refugees as quickly as possible to achieve its goal of providing safety to 40,000 Afghans.

Source: CILA’s Statement on Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024

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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