Economic immigration to Canada needs to be increased to comprise almost two-thirds of all immigration to the country to help companies dealing with serious labour shortages find much-needed workers, says a leading businesses advocacy group. 

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser laid out Ottawa’s plans for immigration for the next three years Tuesday.

In its 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan, the federal government targets record immigration to Canada each year through 2025. 

The target for next year is 465,000 new permanent residents. The country would welcome 485,000 new permanent residents in 2024 and 500,000 in 2025.

That’s a total of 1.45 million immigrants to Canada over the coming three years. 

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The Business Council of Canada thinks that record immigration is great. But the business advocacy group also wants Ottawa to make economic immigration a bigger piece of that immigration pie.

“Unfortunately, economic-class permanent residents represent only 58.5 per cent of total admissions in the plan announced today,” said Goldy Hyder, the Business Council of Canada’s president and CEO, in a statement.

“This is far fewer than the number needed to support Canadians’ high standard of living.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data for the first eight months of this year reveal the country welcomed 186,195 new permanent residents through economic immigration programs during that period.

Economic Immigration On Track To Be 60.2 Per Cent Of All Immigration To Canada This Year

Those who came to Canada through those economic immigration programs in the first eight months of this year comprised 60.2 per cent of the total 309,240 new permanent residents to the country during that period.

Based on that trend, Canada is already on track to welcome 279,292 new permanent residents under economic programs this year, roughly 2.6 per cent or 7,267 new permanent residents more under those programs than Ottawa is targeting for next year under the new immigration levels plan.

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Adopting the Business Council of Canada’s target of 65 per cent for economic immigration, the country would see 302,250 new permanent resident under economic immigration programs out of the total 465,000 next year.

That would be 30,225 more immigrants under economic programs next year, another 31,525 extra in 2024, and 32,500 more in 2025 than are currently to be allowed under the latest immigration levels plan. 

The Business Council of Canada’s higher economic immigration target could mean 94,250 more workers settling in Canada over the next three years than the 848,250 currently projected under the latest immigration levels plan.

Eight Out Of 10 Businesses Having Trouble Finding Staff, Survey Reveals

A survey of Business Council of Canada members earlier this year revealed 80 per cent of them are having trouble finding skilled workers and 67 per cent of those businesses have cancelled or delayed major projects because of the labour shortages. 

The business association maintains economic immigration is critical to growing the Canadian economy.

“Every job that is not filled represents one less person contributing to Canada’s economic growth and one less person paying taxes to support Canada’s social infrastructure,” said Hyder.

Canadian employers can recruit and hire foreign nationals through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP).

The Global Talent Stream (GTS), a part of the TFWP, can under normal processing situations lead to the granting of Canadian work permits and the processing of visa applications within two weeks.

Employers can also bring in foreign nationals to fill available positions through the Express Entry system, which receives immigration applications online.

It powers the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FST), and Canada Experience Class Program (CEC) which all draw from the Express Entry pool of candidates. Those with the required Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores are then sent Invitations to Apply (ITAs) in regular draws.

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