IMPACT – MEDIUM

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has indicated that 300,000 new immigrants per year is “the new normal,” and that 2018 projections will not fall below that number and may go higher. The minister, Ahmed Hussen, made the comments during an interview with CBC radio Saturday in which he previewed the government’s plan for 2018 immigration levels before they are made public this week.

Key points:

  • The target number of new immigrants will be at least 300,000 in 2018, and possibly more. “We will not go below 300,000, (which) is now our new normal…. Anything more, you’ll have to wait to see the plan,” Hussen said. One of the reasons, he said, that the government previously increased immigration from 260,000 to 300,000 was to respond to employers who have asked the government to increase immigration to meet their growth needs.
  • Foreign workers will be prioritized, followed by family-sponsored immigrants and then refugees. According to Hussen, the “vast majority” of new immigrants in 2018 will be in the economic class because that is “where the greatest need is.”
  • The government views immigration as an economic tool to fill labor shortages, create jobs to grow the economy, and meet regional demographic challenges. The 2018 plan will continue along its current track to “bring skills to Canada” and to “make sure that we invite job-creating skilled immigrants to Canada,” Hussen said. He also noted that immigration is one of the solutions for both the federal and provincial governments by using tailored programs that “work for them.”
  • Canada’s immigrant population is changing, according to the latest census. While Asia remains the largest source of immigrants to Canada, African immigrants now outnumber European immigrants. Sixty percent of annual immigration to Canada is from economic categories.

Listen to the full interview here.

BAL Analysis: The minister’s statements confirm that the government will at least maintain this year’s number of new immigrants in 2018 and will prioritize skilled foreign workers. The plans are consistent with Canada’s recent efforts to welcome more immigrants by introducing several measures under the Global Skills Strategy and concluding the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union that eases mobility for European professionals.