New government data reveals immigration to Canada slowed in August but the country is still on track to exceed its ambitious target for the year.
By end of August, Canada had welcomed 309,240 new permanent residents – an average of 38,655 per month – putting the country on track to receive 463,860 new permanent residents by the end of this year.
Ottawa’s current Immigration Levels Plan for 2022-2024 sets out immigration targets of 431,645 new permanent residents for this year, 447,055 next year, and 451,000 in 2024.
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Even with the slowdown in immigration in August, Canada will still beat its immigration target for this year by 32,215 new permanent residents, or almost 7.5 per cent, if the current trend continues for the rest of the year.
At 463,860 new permanent residents, Canada’s rate of immigration would be even higher than the ambitious target set for next year and even 2024, beating the target set for two years from now by more than 2.8 per cent.
During the first eight months of this year, Canadian immigration surpassed the number of new permanent residents for the comparable period last year, 222,580, by 38.9 per cent.
That was the year Canada set a record for the number of new permanent residents, welcoming 406,030 to the country in 2021.
Despite that high level of immigration to Canada, there are those who say Canada needs to do more to boost immigration.
Among them are former Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains and his former chief of staff in 2016 and 2017, Elder C. Marques, two Liberal Party of Canada insiders who are no longer in politics.
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In an open letter published in The Financial Post earlier this week, the two men recommended that Canada boost immigration to the country.
“Canada deserves praise for our approach to immigration levels,” the two wrote in their letter in
The Financial Post. “But while the absolute numbers may seem high, they actually need to be higher in light of Canada’s population and demographic challenges.
“In the early 1910s, a much-smaller Canada welcomed similar annual absolute numbers as today. Raising immigration targets responsibly and effectively will require more investments in infrastructure, housing, transit and resettlement services across the entire country, and that means better federal-provincial collaboration.”
Now retired from politics since last year, Bains is currently vice-chair of global investment banking for CIBC. Elders is now a partner at the law practice of Blake, Cassels & Graydon.
In their letter to The Financial Post, Bains and Elders expressly stated the views in their letter were solely their own.
Business groups have also come out strongly in support of increased immigration, most notably in Quebec which, like British Columbia and Ontario, has been particularly hard hit by labour shortages.
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Ahead of the provincial election in Quebec earlier this year, the reported consensus among industry groups was for Quebec to welcome 80,000 immigrants every year. That would be a roughly 52.4-per cent jump in immigration to the francophone province’s current annual allotment of 52,500 new permanent residents.
Véronique Proulx , president of the Manufacturiers et Exportateurs du Québec (MEQ) manufacturing and exporting industry association, was reportedly then calling for the province to receive as many as 90,000 immigrants annually.
The MEQ and three other business associations, the Conseil du Patronat du Québec (CPQ) employers’ group, the Fédération des Chambres de Commerce du Québec (FCCQ) association of chambers of commerce, and the Fédération Canadienne de l’Entreprise Indépendante (FCEI) association of independent businesses, all joined forces during the provincial election campaign to lobby for more immigration to resolve labour shortages.
Those calling for more immigration seem to be echoing the sentiments of the current government.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser is reportedly working on two new pathways which should bolster immigration even further.
One will reportedly allow international students to more easily get permanent residence in Canada.
The other, confirmed to be in the works by IRCC staff, will allow undocumented migrants to gain permanent residence.
The IRCC is working with academic experts and industry stakeholders, including the Canadian Council for Refugees and Migrant Rights Network, on this pathway which could pave the way for the estimated 500,000 undocumented migrants in Canada.
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As Canada works on creating that new pathway, the IRCC is building on the lessons it has learnt through its launches of innovative programs which have successfully transitioned individuals in Canada on a temporary status or with no status to permanent residency.
“Most notably, programs such as the Guardian Angels, the Out-of-Status Construction Workers Pilot, and the pathway to permanent residence for temporary workers and international graduates,” explained IRCC spokesperson Michelle Carbert last month.
The Guardian Angels special pathway was quickly put in place at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, between December 2020 and August 2021, for refugee claimants who were then already providing direct patient care in the health sector.
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“Once we confirmed that applicants were eligible and had the required work experience for this program, also known as Guardian Angels, any removal order under which they were referred was suspended until a final decision is made on their candidacy,” said Carbert.
The temporary public policy for Out-of-Status Construction Workers in Toronto is another pathway to permanent residency. It was launched in 2020 and then extended through to Jan. 2 next year – or until 500 applicants and their family members have been granted permanent residence, whichever comes first.
That pathway recognizes the economic contributions of these workers and aims to address their vulnerability due to their lack of immigration status, said Carbert.
“The government is working with the Canadian Labour Congress, which refers applicants who have a strong likelihood of meeting the eligibility requirements of the public policy to IRCC,” she said. “Eligible applicants may apply for a temporary resident permit and an open work permit to remain and continue working in Canada while their permanent resident application is processed and finalized.”