November 2, 2020

Canada Makes Immigration Central To COVID Recovery

Immigrants will be an important part of Canada’s coronavirus recovery plan. On October 30, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that his country will attempt to attract up to 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021; 411,000 in 2022; and 421,000 in 2023. Those numbers are each a 50,000 increase from the figures that Canadian officials set for 2021 immigration levels before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

In a press release, Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said the plan “recognizes the importance of family reunification and Canada’s global commitment to protecting those most at risk through refugee resettlement.”

As such, according to CBC, for 2021, the breakdown for new immigrants would include:

  • 232,000 immigrants in the economic class;
  • 103,500 in the family class;
  • 59,500 refugees and protected persons; and
  • 5,500 on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Importantly, the plan assumes a return to a normal level of international travel in 2021. Canada has admitted less than 129,000 legal permanent residents so far in 2020.

Prime Minister Trudeau said, “To rebuild a stronger economy, we need to have enough workers to maintain supply chains, allow businesses to expand and create more jobs for Canadians. Whether in long term care homes, the tech sector or local restaurants, this crisis has highlighted the important contributions that newcomers make to our communities.”

In addition to the increase in the number of legal permanent residents admitted to the country, the plan also will:

  • Focus on innovative and community-driven approaches to address diverse labor and demographic needs across the country;
  • Provide a renewed commitment to capacity-building and digital transformation in Canada’s immigration system;
  • Support operations and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the processing of applications;
  • Provide additional points for French-speaking candidates under Express Entry;
  • Admit up to 500 refugees over the next two years through the Economic Mobility Pathways Project, which helps qualified refugees apply for permanent residence through existing economic immigration pathways; and
  • Provide a pathway to permanent residency for eligible asylum claimants who were working on the front lines of the pandemic between March 13 and August 14, 2020, providing direct care to patients in health-care institutions.

As Bloomberg reported, Leah Nord, senior director of workforce strategies at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, praised the new policy. “We have a situation in the country though the pandemic where we do have high unemployment rates but we also have vacancies. Immigration in particular, international students and temporary foreign workers, have an important role in filling those gaps,” Nord said.