OTTAWA, Ontario — Canada has unveiled plans for a big increase in the number of immigrants entering the country, with a target of seeing 500,000 people arrive each year by 2025 as it seeks to address a severe labor shortage ‘work.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser unveiled the new plan on Tuesday. It places a strong emphasis on admitting more permanent residents with the necessary skills and work experience, as well as smaller goals for family members and refugees. The opposition Conservative Party welcomed the plan.
“Make no mistake. This is a massive increase in economic migration to Canada,” Fraser said. “We haven’t seen such a focus on economic migration as we have seen in this immigration levels plan.”
The new plan predicts a flood of new arrivals that will see 465,000 people come from outside the country in 2023, rising to 500,000 in 2025. By comparison, the immigration department says 405,000 permanent residents have been admitted l ‘last year.
Most of these newcomers will be what are known as economic immigrants, who are expected to fill some of the approximately 1 million jobs currently vacant in various sectors of the economy.
“There were a million jobs available in the Canadian economy at a time when immigration already accounts for almost all of our workforce growth,” Fraser said. “We cannot maximize our economic potential if we do not welcome immigration.”
While the influx could put even more pressure on already scarce affordable housing in many parts of the country, Fraser suggested the new workers could actually enable more homes to be built by addressing a shortage of tradespeople. .
While most of the projected growth in immigration over the next three years will be focused on supporting the economy, the new plan also calls for a slight increase in the number of family members who will be admitted to Canada. It also projects an overall decrease in the number of refugees, from a high of 76,000 in 2023 to less than 73,000 in 2025, which Fraser attributes to the government’s plan to complete the resettlement of 40,000 Afghan refugees the year next.
“In each of the past two years, we have resettled more than a third of the total number of refugees settled in the world,” he added. “And each of the past three years, we have resettled more refugees than any other country in the world.”
Despite the decrease, a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees welcomed the government’s continued support to accept asylum seekers fleeing war and other threats.
“The UN Refugee Agency welcomes Canada’s continued commitment to refugee resettlement as part of its overall plan to increase immigration,” said UNHCR Representative in Canada Rema Jamous Imseis, in a press release.
The response from Canadian industry was more mixed, with the Business Council of Canada saying the government’s plan did not go far enough to address the country’s unprecedented labor shortages.
Conservative Opposition immigration critic Tom Kmiec also welcomed the plan to dramatically increase the number of newcomers to Canada, but questioned whether the government would actually be able to reach its own goals.
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