On November 1 the Government of Canada tabled a three-year immigration strategy featuring annual immigration level increases which will bring nearly a million newcomers to the country by the end of 2020. The plan was met with mixed, though generally favourable, responses from stakeholders ranging from immigration lawyers to opposition politicians.
“Our government believes that newcomers play a vital role in our society,” said Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen at the announcement, echoing an opinion that many immigration lawyers hold. “Five million Canadians are set to retire by 2035 and we have fewer people working to support seniors and retirees.”
Maintaining steady population growth is central to the Liberals’ strategy. The nation’s ratio of working age people to senior citizens has plummeted since 1971, from 6.6 to 4.2. It is expected to fall even more drastically, to just 2-to-1, by 2036. By that time, immigration is expected to be the sole driver of population growth in Canada.
The new plan will raise the number of new economic immigrants, refugees and family reunifications from 300,000 in 2017 to 310,000 in 2018; 330,000 in 2019; and 340,000 in 2020. It also aims to reduce application backlogs and speed up processing for family reunifications, a measure that will receive support from immigration lawyers.
As expected, the plan received immediate criticism from the party across the aisle. Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel complained that the plan doesn’t address integration issues.
“It is not enough for this government to table the number of people that they are bringing to this country,” she said per the CBC. “Frankly the Liberals need to stop using numbers of refugees, amount of money spent, feel-good tweets and photo ops for metrics of success in Canada’s immigration system.”
The bulk of the criticism was more constructive. Dory Jade, CEO of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, told the CBC that while the new plan indicated a “very positive trend,” he believes the country will “greatly prosper and grow once the 350,000 threshold has been crossed.” The Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance (CISSA) had each also hoped for higher intake levels.
“Nothing is going to impact this country [more] besides increased automation and technology than immigration will and this impact will grow in response to [the] declining birth rate, aging population and accelerated retirements,” Chris Friesen, CISSA’s director of settlement services, said.
Hussen said the government “listened very carefully to all stakeholders” in developing its cautious, progressive approach.
“We have to make sure that people are able to be given the tools they need to succeed once they get here,” he added.
If you or a member of your family is considering a move to Canada, contact the immigration lawyers at Nanda & Associate today to learn how we can help and what impact the federal government’s new strategy may have on you.