Canada Decided Against Move To Welcome One Million Immigrants In A Year

Canada Takes ‘Step In Right Direction’ By Maintaining Immigration Levels
Canada immigration free assessment

Government documents seen by the Toronto Star show Canada considered letting in one million permanent residents in a year before settling on 400,000.

This was proposed as one of three options for how many PRs should be let in, with the pros and cons of each option. The deputy minister was in charge of drafting this plan for consideration by cabinet in 2020, according to the Toronto Star.

The three options were:

  • Growth via covering up the 2020 shortfall over the next three years, with 401,000 people in 2021 (instead of 341,000), 411,000 in 2022, and 421,000 in 2023;
  • Maintaining the plan, with 351,000 people in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022, while consulting with Canadians about a steeper growth trajectory in the future;
  • Exponential levels of growth to see the 2021 target intact and the 2022 target up to 500,000, and one million in 2023.

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Cabinet’s ultimate decision – to let in 401,000 PRs in 2021, 411,000 in 2022, and 421,000 in 2023 – was geared towards bolstering economic recovery after COVID-19, but has since received extensive criticism in recent months, in the wake of inflation, housing strains, and healthcare pressures.

“This proposal puts forward options that reflect the Government’s ambition and priorities for immigration,” says the memorandum submitted by then-immigration minister Marco Mendicino.

“All options signal future growth and reflect the continuing importance of immigration, with broad ranges for flexibility amidst uncertainty.”

The 2020 plan had aimed for 341,000 PRs. However, with the pandemic’s closure of the Canadian border, the proposal asked for growth.

“The proposed immigration levels plan aims to protect and enhance Canada’s immigration advantage, leverage it to welcome a growing number of newcomers who will contribute to short-term recovery and long-term growth, and seize the opportunity to help shape and support a future vision for our country,” the plan said.

As per the government, a “forward-looking” plan was to support family reunification, boost francophone communities outside Quebec, and keep Canada competitive on a global stage while addressing regional labor market needs and allowing more international students and foreign workers to become permanent residents.

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While British Columbia and Alberta wanted a pause in immigration growth, Ontario and others wanted “modest, incremental, stable, and managed” increases.

Many critics are taken aback by IRCC’s consideration of letting in one million immigrants.

“Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada was clearly foolish to think that one million was a number that would maintain public support for immigration,” said University of Ottawa law and public health professor Amir Attaran.

“Obviously, we’ve never been close to a million and IRCC wanted cabinet to consider doing something clearly out of precedent. It wasn’t gradualism. It was extremism.”

The cabinet report, however, did make not of possible challenges to the system for processing capacity and infrastructure as the department and its partners, such as the Canada Border Services Agency, would need $4 billion to $6 billion to manage the significant increases in admissions.

It also acknowledged possible increases in pressure on housing, education, and health service infrastructure for provinces and municipalities.

For 2024-2026, the department decided to stabilize immigration levels at 500,000; Canada would thus let in 485,000 PRs in 2024, 500,000 in 2025, and 500,000 in 2026.

Canada immigration free assessment
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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.