Canadian government sets ambitious immigration targets for post-pandemic recovery

The federal government plans to continue to increase the record number of new permanent residents to Canada over the next three years as it resolves a massive backlog of applications that have accumulated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

OTTAWA — The federal government plans to continue increasing Canada’s record number of new permanent residents over the next three years as it works through a massive backlog of applications that have built up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said in his recently released plan that Canada will admit 431,645 permanent residents in 2022, 447,055 next year and 451,000 in 2024.

The federal government says it wants to increase its admission rate of newcomers to just over 1% of the Canadian population by 2024.

Despite Canada’s rebound since the start of the pandemic, there are still hundreds of thousands of jobs in all sectors waiting to be filled, Fraser said.

In addition, Canada’s population is aging and by the end of the decade, the government expects the worker-to-retiree ratio to drop to just three to one.

“If we want to be able to support our health care system, our public education system, social services and the benefits offered by the various levels of government, we will need more workers and young families to come here” , said Fraser. said in an interview.

He said increasing immigration will be key to Canada’s pandemic recovery.

Business Council of Canada President Goldy Hyder agrees, and in a statement on Monday said an economy chronically short of workers cannot realize its potential.

Hyder warned the government that the growing workforce must be satisfied with more money for utilities, housing and infrastructure.

There is a backlog of more than 1.3 million applications for permanent and temporary residence as of February 1, which the government says is mainly due to slowdowns during the pandemic.

Fraser hopes to get processing times back on track by the end of the year and has introduced $85 million and new modern systems to try and speed things up.

Some people may have made other plans while enduring the long wait times, but Fraser said he believes people still want to come to Canada.

“I feel like after talking to stakeholder organizations, after talking to candidates who would like to come to Canada, that Canada is now and will remain a destination of choice for people around the world,” he said. -he declares.

“We should be prepared to welcome more by increasing our immigration levels, as long as our communities have the capacity to absorb them and our economy demands that they be here.”

The government exceeded its 2021 target of 401,000 new permanent residents by approving 405,0000 applications in 2021, the most for a single year in Canadian history.

This gives Fraser confidence that the government will be able to achieve the goals it has set for itself, he said.

“We did this in the context of a global pandemic that closed our borders for much of the year, which forced us to take a completely different approach to immigration,” Fraser said, adding that during the pandemic, the government has focused on people. already in Canada.

He said the government also managed to pivot during the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and pledged to resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees in Canada. So far, 7,550 Afghan refugees have arrived.

The government expects about 57% of new permanent residents over the next three years to apply through economic streams, but the number of new refugees is also expected to be higher than previous estimates.

While the government expected 60,500 refugees and protected persons to gain permanent status in Canada in 2022, that number has now risen to 76,545.

The UN Refugee Agency welcomed the news on Monday, “at a time of record high levels of forced displacement around the world”.

“This will allow the most vulnerable refugees to find safety and a new home,” the agency said in a statement.

Fraser said Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will continue to fast-track healthcare worker applications during the pandemic, but details need to be ironed out with provinces to ensure the right professionals are sought.

IRCC will also continue to process applications under some of the special pandemic programs that targeted temporary residents in essential roles in Canada, to offer them permanent status.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 14, 2021.

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press