Two insiders within the governing Liberal Party of Canada are calling for much higher immigration to the country in an open letter published in The Financial Post on Tuesday this week.

Former Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains and his former chief of staff in 2016 and 2017, Elder C. Marques, say Canada should become even more ambitious with its immigration targets.

“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.”

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Now retired from politics since last year, Bains is currently vice-chair of global investment banking for CIBC. 

During his time as a federal Cabinet minister, Bains worked closely with the Advisory Council on Economic Growth, a group that advocated raising Canada’s annual immigration target to 450,000 people a year.

That’s roughly the immigration level for 2024 under the current Immigration Levels Plan for 2022-2024. 

It sets out immigration targets of 431,645 new permanent residents this year, 447,055 next year, and 451,000 in 2024.

Elders, now a partner at the law practice of Blake, Cassels & Graydon, was also a senior advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a bit more than two years from 2017 through to 2019 and later chief of staff to the minister of finance in the Liberal government prior to returning to private practice.

Fix The ‘Administrative Chaos’ At IRCC Say Bains And Elders

In their letter to The Financial Post, Bains and Elders expressly state the views expressed in that letter are solely their own.

They make several recommendations to boost immigration to Canada, including significant reforms to what they describe as administrative chaos.

“Current administrative failures are unacceptable,” they insist. “Recently-announced investments should be celebrated, but more is required. 

“For decades, badly-needed upgrades were put off by governments of both stripes, leaving the consequences for another day. That day is now here. There may not be much political credit in getting administration right, but it’s essential if our system is going to be fair, credible and responsive to what the economy needs. We are in a global race for talent. We need systems that reflect that.”

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The Liberal insiders also drive home the need to build on Canada’s successes in attracting international talent with a sharper focus on international students and temporary foreign workers.

They insist that undocumented workers in Canada should be given a pathway to permanent residency.

“The government must address the hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers at Canadian businesses who remain in legal limbo,” they wrote in their letter. 

“The government should seize this opportunity to consider regularizing those workers, who are qualified and appropriate, and ensure that in future those who can contribute to Canada enjoy clearer paths to permanent legal status.”

Processing Time For Global Talent Stream Needs To Be Improved

The Global Talent Stream (GTS) and other dedicated streams for highly-skilled workers have worked well but face too-long processing times and Canada must double down on approaches which are fast and responsive to avoid excessive bureaucratic snags, they note.

Without describing those values in detail, Bains and Elders also insist that Canadian immigration must reflect Canadian values and be open, fair, compassionate and respectful of everyone who interacts with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Immigration to Canada is increasingly being seen by businesses in this country as a solution to resolve serious labour shortages. 

Certainly, immigration is currently the leading driver of population growth in Canada.

The latest IRCC data reveals the country welcomed 274,980 new permanent residents in the first seven months of this year.

That puts Canada on track to see immigration hit 471,394 new permanent residents in 2022, or 16.1 per cent more than the record-breaking 406,025 new permanent residents to Canada last year.

Canada On Track To Welcome Record Number Of Immigrants This Year

At the current rate of immigration, Canada is poised to exceed not only its targets for this year and the next but even the proposed target for 2024 – and that one by 4.5 per cent.

In its Canada’s Population Estimates, Second Quarter 2022, Statistics Canada chalked up 94.5 per cent of the country’s population growth during those three months to immigration which led to an increase of 269,305 people.

“This was the highest increase from international migration since comparable records have existed and were 93,000 higher than in the third quarter of 2019, which saw an increase of 175,907, the next highest quarter on record,” noted Statistics Canada.

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