“Immigration is vital to Canada’s future,” Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said Friday as he unveiled the three-year immigration plan. By 2021, the Liberal government wants to receive 401,000 permanent residents, a goal that, if achieved, would constitute an all-time record.
Ottawa has raised its targets to admit a total of 1.2 million immigrants by 2023.
These are solid measures, Mendicino told a news conference in Ottawa, adding that the federal government will use investments and resources to achieve them.
The coronavirus pandemic has illustrated just how badly the country needs immigrants, he says. Currently, in the health sector alone, I recalled, a quarter of workers are immigrants.
Federal goals for welcoming permanent residents:
- 401,000 in 2021
411,000 in 2022
421,000 in 2023
By comparison, Canada’s goal for the current year was to welcome approximately 341,000 new permanent residents, which is in line with recent immigration levels.
Canada needs skilled workers, and the Trudeau government has pledged to admit up to 500 skilled refugees through the Economic Mobility Pathway project by 2022.
Minister Mendicino also praised the very particular and exceptional program which regularized the status of “guardian angels”, asylum seekers who provided care at the height of the pandemic. But questioned on this subject on Friday, he did not seem inclined to further regularize the status of these asylum seekers.
Francophones in support
Under another program, Express Entry, Ottawa will award extra points to French-speaking applicants to foster the growth of French-speaking communities in the provinces (except Quebec).
“Immigration remains the dominant factor in maintaining the demographic weight of Francophone minority communities,” said Raymond Théberge, Commissioner of Official Languages, at the end of September. However, the pandemic has slowed down so much that the commissioner is concerned about the long-term impact it could have on these communities.
In Quebec, Immigration Minister Nadine Girault announced Thursday that immigration targets have been lowered for the current year. But like the federal government, the government of François Legault will try to fill the shortfall over the next few years.
Drop of more than 40%
In Canada, in the first eight months of 2020, immigration fell by more than 40% compared to last year.
However, the system restarts. Earlier this month, the exceptionally popular reopening of the parent-grandparent sponsorship scheme came with a promise to lower the income threshold for potential sponsors. Ottawa recognizes that the pandemic may have affected people’s income.
The Department of Immigration has also launched a call for tenders to reduce the reliance on paper files and face-to-face interviews with applicants.
Pilot tests are also underway at airports on the feasibility of screening incoming travelers for COVID-19 and adjusting potential quarantine requirements. Although the tests are currently only carried out on those who are already authorized to enter Canada, the results of the pilot projects could allow more people to enter the country.
In the recent Speech from the Throne, the Liberals stressed the importance of returning to strong immigration.
As part of its short-term economic recovery plan and long-term growth plan, the government will use the benefits of immigration to keep Canada competitive on the world stage, the speech says.
The opposition expresses itself
In the plan presented to Parliament, the Liberals did not specify the targets for the different categories of immigration.
Conservative immigration critic Raquel Dancho says the Liberals need to be clear about how they’re going to achieve their goals, not just numbers.
The Liberals have failed to effectively manage the immigration system during the pandemic, he said in a statement.
New Democratic Party (NDP) immigration critic Jenny Kwan is urging the Trudeau government to grant permanent resident status to people already on Canadian soil who wish to obtain it.
She cites the example of temporary foreign workers and foreign students who have obtained employment.
In a response to CBC/Radio-Canada.ca, the Bloc Québécois says Ottawa is ignoring its own case management capacity and wants to increase its immigration targets. The Bloc Québécois affirms that the testimony received in parliamentary committees indicated that immigration procedures were delayed due to the current pandemic.
“Once again, the federal government is going against Quebec’s approach to immigration,” laments Christine Normandin, Bloc spokesperson on these issues. For the Bloc Québécois, it is up to Quebec to determine its number of immigrants according to its ability to integrate”.