Canada will release its 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan this morning.
The Immigration Levels Plan is the most important immigration announcement made by the Government of Canada each year. It outlines the number of new permanent residents Canada aims to welcome over the coming years, and what categories Canada aims to admit them under. Canada welcomes immigrants under the following categories: economic; family; refugee; and humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Earlier this year, on March 12, the federal government announced Canada would aim to welcome over one million new permanent residents between 2020 and 2022.
Days later, Canada had to shut its borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, Canada will likely fall well short of the 341,000 immigration target it set for this year, however it has been holding Express Entry draws throughout the pandemic that will result in Canada breaking its Express Entry record this year. In addition, Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) draws remain ongoing.
Why Canada is likely to maintain high immigration
Canada will likely maintain high levels of immigration to offset the negative economic and fiscal impacts of its aging population and low birth rate.
Canada has one of the world’s oldest populations and one of the world’s lowest birth rates and as such, it will face challenges growing its economy and supporting government spending in the future. These challenges can be be alleviated by welcoming more immigrants to support labour force and economic growth.
Canada is welcoming a high level of immigration by its standards.
Since its founding in 1867, Canada has welcomed at least 300,000 immigrants in a year just five times. It is currently welcoming 0.9 per cent of its population in immigrants, which is three times higher than the per capita newcomer intake in the United States.
At the same time, Canada has had a higher per capita intake in the past, welcoming 1 per cent or more of its population in newcomers, something it regularly achieved in the decades prior to the First World War.
Canada’s immigration record was achieved in 1913 when it welcomed 401,000 immigrants which was over 5 per cent of its population in newcomers. Today, a 5 per cent newcomer intake would result in two million new immigrants arriving to Canada.
Canada should eventually surpass the 400,000 annual newcomer threshold.
It is on pace to welcome around 3.5 million immigrants this decade, which is higher than the 2.8 million newcomers it admitted between 2010-2019.
Canadian immigration during COVID-19
While admission targets are growing, Canada is experienced a drop in the the number of new permanents landing in the country in 2020. There were 64 per cent fewer new permanent residents admitted in August, compared to August 2019. This is partially due to the number of people who were approved for permanent residence, but were unable to travel to Canada before their immigration documents expired due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions and other disruptions.
Public support for immigration in Canada has increased over the course of the pandemic, according to an Environics Institute study. By a five-to-one margin, Canadians report that immigration makes Canada a better country, and they are more likely to say this is because it makes for a more diverse and multicultural place to live. Another survey by the Association of Canadian Studies found that Canadians generally see immigration as positive for long-term economic recovery, but they want to see family members given priority for immigration.
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