The Canadian government is boosting its immigration targets in a move to stimulate the post-pandemic economic recovery and fill jobs in sectors experiencing shortages after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of the border and a sharp slowdown in new arrivals.
On Friday, Canada's Immigration Minister, Marco Mendicino, unveiled a three-year immigration plan that sets ambitious targets for bringing skilled workers, family members and refugees into Canada.
Mendicino says the country will welcome more than 1.2 million new immigrants over the next three years, with up to 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, 411,000 in 2022, and 421,000 in 2023 -- an increase of 50,000 each year compared with the previous targets. The previous plan set targets of 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022.
According to the Canadian government, the numbers aim to make up for the shortfall this year due to the pandemic and represent about 1% of Canada's population.
Under the new plan, 60% of the intake will come from economic class, 30% from family reunification, and 10% under refugee protection and resettlement.
To slow the spread of the coronavirus, Canada closed its borders to all non-essential traffic in March, leading to a drastic downturn in immigration and a slowdown of new permanent residents to the country. And while the country had hoped to settle 341,000 people in 2020, by August, Canada had only welcomed 128,425 people.
“Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth," said Mendicino.
"Canadians have seen how newcomers are playing an outsized role in our hospitals and care homes, and helping us to keep food on the table. As we look to recovery, newcomers create jobs not just by giving our businesses the skills they need to thrive, but also by starting businesses themselves. Our plan will help to address some of our most acute labour shortages and to grow our population to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.”
Last year, Canada welcomed 341,175 new permanent residents.