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Ottawa to increase immigration for economic recovery

Monday, November 02, 2020 @ 9:25 AM | By Terry Davidson

Canada’s government has tabled a plan to boost immigration levels over the next three years to counter a shortfall caused by travel restrictions thrown up due to COVID-19.

On Oct. 30, federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino tabled the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan, which sets out a strategy to boost Canada’s immigration targets in the name of economic recovery.

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino

According to a government news release, the pandemic “has highlighted the contribution of immigrants to the well-being of our communities and across all sectors of the economy.”

“Our health-care system relies on immigrants to keep Canadians safe and healthy,” it states. “Other industries, such as information technology companies and our farmers and producers, also rely on the talent of newcomers to maintain supply chains, expand their businesses and, in turn, create more jobs for Canadians.”

To make up for the shortfall felt since Ottawa decided to limit incoming travel to only that of the most essential, the plan for 2021 to 2023 will aim to “continue welcoming immigrants at a rate of about 1 [per cent]” of Canada’s population and sets a goal to bring in 401,000 permanent residents in 2021, with increases of 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023.

The previous targets were 361,000 for 2021 and 351,000 for 2022. 

The release goes on to state that in a bid to “compensate for the shortfall and ensure Canada has the workers it needs to fill crucial labour market gaps and remain competitive on the world stage,” the three-year plan aims to take in immigrants at a rate of about 1 per cent of the country's population, which, according to Statistics Canada, is just over 38,000.

It also states that to keep “focus on economic growth,” 60 per cent of admissions are to come from the “Economic Class” — those selected based on their skills and ability to become economically established in Canada — and up to 500 refugees over the next two years will be admitted via Canada’s Economic Pathways Project, which helps qualifying refugees apply for permanent residence “through existing economic immigration pathways.”

But in the name of Canadians’ health and safety, it states, the advice of public health officials will be followed when welcoming newcomers at the border.

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

According to the release, immigrants account for 33 per cent of all business owners with paid staff, and 25 per cent of workers in Canada’s health sector.

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