Immigration Minister Sean Fraser is setting out to find out what residents of Canada think of the country’s immigration policies and programs through an engagement initiative being dubbed An Immigration System for Canada’s Future.
“Immigration is critical to Canada’s long-term success and we need to ensure our policies and programs are aligned with the needs of our communities,” said the immigration minister in a statement.
“That’s why the government of Canada is launching this large-scale engagement initiative, which will provide an opportunity for a wide range of stakeholders and Canadians to share their ideas and perspectives on how we can build a stronger, more adaptive immigration system for Canada’s future.”
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Through this engagement initiative which will continue throughout the spring, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will hold in-person dialogue sessions across the country, thematic workshops and a survey for the public and its clients.
The idea is to gather information to shape Canada’s future immigration policies and programs.
Fraser kicked off the new initiative by chairing the first discussion session in Halifax.
Those who want to contribute to the future of Canada’s immigration system will also be able to respond to an online survey, which will be available in March, in addition to the dialogue sessions and thematic workshops with stakeholders.
Last year, the latest IRCC data reveals Canada welcomed 437,120 new permanent residents – and that level of immigration is only expected to grow over the coming years.
In its 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan, Ottawa has set the target for 2023 at 465,000 new permanent residents. The country is to welcome 485,000 new permanent residents in 2024 and another 500,000 in 2025.
That’s a total of 1.45 million immigrants to Canada over the coming three years.
Immigrants Fuel 75% Of Canada’s Population Growth
Immigration already accounts for almost all of Canada’s labour force growth, with more than 75 per cent of Canada’s population growth coming from immigration, mostly in the economic category.
By 2036, immigrants will represent up to 30 per cent of the Canadian population up from 20.7 per cent in 2011, states Statistics Canada.
The rising levels of immigration are being seen by many as vital to ensuring Canada can resolve its serious labour shortages and help employers fill positions left empty for a lack of suitable candidates.
“In December, overall job vacancies, at 848,800, were little changed from November, at 849,200, levelling off after trending downward from the peak reached in May 2022 when job vacancies hit 1,002,200,” reveals Statistics Canada.
As inflation climbed halfway through last year, though, others expressed concern Canada’s immigration levels were so high as to be fueling immigration and taxing the country’s social safety net and infrastructure.
Move To Put Brakes On Rising Immigration Levels In Quebec
Among the most outspoken of those calling for lower immigration levels was People’s Party of Canada (PPC) Leader Maxime Bernier who said Ottawa’s ambitious immigration targets for the next few years just aren’t sustainable.
“It’s mass immigration,” said the leader of the fledgling right-wing party in a Rebel News report. “Yes, we must have sustainable immigration but we believe we must have lower immigration than that number.”
In the last federal election, the PPC got 4.9 per cent of the popular vote and failed to elect a single candidate to the House of Commons. The party regularly polls at less than five per cent of popular support.
But worries over Canada’s immigration levels and how the country can provide an adequate level of settlement services to all the newcomers persist.
In the francophone province of Quebec, provincial Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette has told Ottawa the province will not be accepting significantly more immigrants in the coming years.
“It is up to Quebec to set its own targets for permanent immigration,” she tweeted in French. “The upper limit for Quebec is now 50,000 (new permanent residents) due to our capacity to welcome, provide French-language services and integrate them.”
Canada is, arguably, a nation of immigrants. In 2021, more than 8.3 million people, or 23 per cent of the population, were, or had ever been, landed immigrants or permanent residents in Canada.