Immigration Minister Hon. Sean Fraser reiterated the need to bring more working-age immigrants and young families to address Canada’s labor shortages.
Canada plans to welcome 500,000 new immigrants annually, according to the Immigration Levels plan 2023-25, after hitting a record 431,645 new permanent residents in 2022. The ambitious immigration targets are necessary because of the declining birthrate and mounting labor shortages. The situation may worsen as a record number of people belonging to the baby boomer generation will be retiring in a couple of years.
Some Canadian policy experts have reservations about bringing more newcomers as it may impact the availability of affordable housing, besides putting a strain on Canada’s healthcare system.
The immigration minister remarked that the target of 500,000 new immigrants annually does not imply that these many newcomers will be coming to settle in Canada. A large proportion of these people are already in Canada as temporary residents. He supported this by highlighting that in 2021, 157,000 international students achieved permanent residence status.
There are new changes in the pipeline to enhance the Express Entry system of application management for improving immigration to specific regions and industrial sectors. These changes will address concerns of strains on resources like housing and healthcare.
The minister mentioned he arrived at the ambitious immigration targets by consulting department officials, provincial and territorial leaders, organizations, and other stakeholders.