On 30 October 2020, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Honourable Marco Mendicino, announced a plan to support economic recovery for Canada through immigration. The plan provides for “responsible increases to immigration targets” to help the Canadian economy recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, given the related shortfall of admissions of immigrants to Canada since the start of the pandemic. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated border closures, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) fell over 210,000 people short of its goal to settle 341,000 people in Canada in 2020.
The plan aims to increase the previously set immigration targets, with the aim to welcome 401,000 permanent residents in 2021 (up from the previous target of 351,000), 411,000 in 2022 (up from the previous target of 361,000), and 421,000 in 2023, among other goals such as to admit 500 refugees over the next two years, and award additional points for French-speaking skills under Express Entry. Another noted goal of the plan is to “help cement Canada’s place among the world’s top destinations for talent, creating a strong foundation for economic growth while reuniting family members with their loved ones and fulfilling humanitarian commitments. IRCC released further details regarding the specific targets for each immigrant category, including low and high ranges for each.
While the Minister has acknowledged the vital role that immigrants play in the Canadian economy, some have criticized the plan for being “pure fantasy” as the government “has no plan to bring in large numbers of immigrants safely” and others have recommended that the numbers should be higher to tackle Canada’s labour market problems and a low birth rate.
Finally, another important highlight of the plan includes a “digital transformation” of the Canadian immigration system to “support operations and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the processing of applications.”
As we continue to navigate the post-COVID-19 world as well as face the consequences, it is encouraging to see IRCC and the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada acknowledge the important role that immigrants play in the Canadian economy and society more generally, and generate a plan to tackle some of the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.