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Government of Canada raises immigration levels by 50,000 per year

By: Erin Rose

The Conference Board of Canada’s Senior Research Associate of Immigration Research Erin Rose offers the following insights on today’s Government of Canada announcement regarding future immigration levels:

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on immigration levels in 2020. Today, the federal government reaffirmed their commitment to immigration as essential for Canada’s future prosperity. Reaping the full benefits of immigration depends on effectively integrating immigrants and addressing the challenges they face. The pandemic has heightened many of these challenges and the effects may be long-lasting.

The Government of Canada’s Immigration Levels plan for 2020/21 to 2022/23 includes the following:

  • The plan targets 401,000 arrivals in 2021, 411,000 in 2022, and 421,000 in 2023, with growth focused on economic immigrants.
  • The new plan represents an increase of approximately 50,000 immigrants per year compared to the previous plan. This is an attempt to make up for 2020 landings that continue to be impacted by travel restrictions and operational adjustments due to COVID-19.
  • The plan sustains high levels of immigration that are essential for Canada’s long-term economic growth, investment, innovation, and skilled labour market development.
  • Immigration can also play a key role in post-pandemic economic recovery. Newcomers stimulate the economy through their spending, through starting and investing in businesses, and by supplying skilled labour to industries and business.
  • Research by The Conference Board of Canada shows that without immigration Canada’s labour force growth would be negative over the next ten years as the baby boomer generation retires, and fertility rates remain below replacement levels. An annual immigration rate of one per cent of the Canadian population or more will help us grow our economy and tax base into the future.
  • While the economic effects of lower immigration levels in 2020 are mitigated in the short-term by high levels of unemployment, sustained low immigration would have long-lasting economic consequences.
  • While high immigration levels may carry clear long-term benefits for the Canadian economy, immigrants will likely need additional support. Immigrants have already been particularly affected by the pandemic with job losses concentrated in many sectors in which immigrants work, such as accommodation and food services. Past recessions have shown that the negative impacts on economic integration can be long-lasting, particularly for new arrivals.
  • Upcoming Conference Board of Canada research will model the economic implications of the target levels released today, as well as alternative scenarios where immigration is higher or lower than target levels.