The Canadian government is sticking to ambitious plans for bringing new arrivals to the country, although its borders remain essentially closed.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino is leaning against scaling back on government immigration targets in the coming years, according to two people familiar with the matter. This includes bringing in 351,000 new permanent residents by 2021 – the most in a century. The government will update the three-year demonstration within the next month.
Since coming to power in 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has sought to accelerate immigration, a policy that before Covid-19 helped drive the fastest population growth rate in three decades. Following that policy can be a challenge.
Current travel restrictions and border closures have led to a flow of people into Canada. A high unemployment rate seems to remain, and the Trudeau minority government faction must rely on support from the opposition political parties to pass the law, posing additional challenges.
In March, Mendicino issued a plan to increase immigration over the next three years – target 341,000 permanent residents by 2020, 351,000 by 2021, and 361,000 by 2022.
So far, the 2020 figures are not even close.
Fear of Covid
Between January and August, Canada amininted 128,430 permanent residents. If the flow returns to 2019 levels, that number will rise to 240,000, or almost 70% of the target, according to Andrew Agopsowicz, an economist at the Royal Bank of Canada. But even that can be optimistic.
“It could be possible if people delayed their move to Canada,” Agopsowicz said via email. “Of course, rising fears of Covid’s resurrection could affect these plans.”
A similar trend has emerged in education permits as well, as international students are increasingly unable to travel to Canada.
The decline in immigration is taking place significant knock-on effects on the housing market. For example 9%, the company reported.
Mendicino’s office consulted with various business, labor and settlement organizations to measure the current need for immigration. The minister is expected to announce the new targets on November 1, which is the deadline for the department to present its plans to Parliament.
(Updates with details on condo vacancy rates in the second last paragraph.)