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Ottawa to welcome 1.2 million immigrants by 2023

 “Immigration is vital to Canada’s future,” said Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, on Friday when the three-year immigration plan was tabled. By 2021, the Liberal government wants to welcome 401,000 permanent residents, a target that, if met, would be an historic record.

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Ottawa has revised its targets upwards to admit a total of 1.2 million immigrants by 2023.

These are robust measures, Mendicino said at a press conference in Ottawa, adding that the federal government will use investments and resources to achieve them.

The coronavirus pandemic has illustrated how much the country needs immigrants, he says. Currently, in the health sector alone, he recalled, a quarter of workers are from immigration.

Federal targets for welcoming permanent residents:

  • 401,000 in 2021
  • 411,000 in 2022
  • 421,000 in 2023

By comparison, Canada’s target for the current year was to welcome approximately 341,000 new permanent residents, consistent with recent immigration levels.

Canada needs skilled workers, and the Trudeau Government is committing to admit up to 500 skilled refugees through the Economic Mobility Pathway Project by 2022.

Minister Mendicino also praised the very special, exceptional program that regularized the status of “guardian angels”, asylum seekers who provided care at the height of the pandemic. But when asked about this on Friday, he did not seem inclined to regularise the status of more of these asylum seekers.

Francophones in support

Under another program, Express Entry, Ottawa will provide additional points to Francophone candidates to promote the growth of Francophone communities in the provinces (other than 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 this could have on these communities.

In Quebec, Immigration Minister Nadine Girault announced on Thursday that immigration targets have been revised downward for the current year. But, like the federal government, the government of François Legault will try to make up for the shortfall in the coming years.

Decrease of more than 40%

In Canada, in the first eight months of 2020, immigration fell by more than 40% compared to last year.

The system restarts, however. Earlier this month, the exceptionally popular reopening of the parent and grandparent sponsorship program was accompanied by a promise to lower the income threshold for potential sponsors. Ottawa recognizes that the pandemic may have affected people’s incomes.

The Department of Immigration has also launched a call for tenders to be less dependent on paper files and face-to-face interviews with candidates.

Pilots are also underway at airports on the feasibility of testing inbound travellers for COVID-19 and adjusting potential quarantine requirements. While testing is currently only done on those already authorized to enter Canada, the results of the pilot projects may allow more people to enter the country.

In the recent Speech from the Throne, the Liberals emphasized the importance of returning to robust 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 said.

The opposition expresses itself

In the plan tabled in Parliament, the Liberals did not specify the objectives for the various categories of immigration.

According to Conservative immigration critic Raquel Dancho, the Liberals need to detail how they will achieve their goals, not just numbers.

The Liberals failed to effectively manage the immigration system during the pandemic, she said in a statement.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) immigration critic, Jenny Kwan, is urging the Trudeau government to grant permanent resident status to people who are already on Canadian soil and who wish to obtain it.

She cites temporary foreign workers and foreign students who have obtained employment as examples.

In a response to CBC/, the Bloc Québécois says that Ottawa does not take its own capacity to manage files into account and wants to increase its immigration targets. The Bloc Québécois says that the testimony received in parliamentary committees indicated that immigration procedures were being delayed because of the current pandemic.

“Once again, the federal government is going against Quebec’s approach to immigration,” says Christine Normandin, the Bloc’s spokesperson on these issues. For the Bloc Québécois, it is up to Quebec to determine its number of immigrants based on its ability to integrate.”

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