Canada will reveal its Immigration Levels Plan for 2024-2026 later today. The Immigration and Refugees Protection Act (IRPA), Canada’s primary immigration law, mandates that the federal government reveal its annual immigration plan by November 1 in non-election years.
The Immigration Levels Plan serves as a framework that specifies the expected number of new permanent residents to be admitted into Canada over the next three years. Categorizing them into three distinct immigration classes: economic, family, and humanitarian.
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This plan aligns with the objectives of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to bolster Canada’s economy. Plus to facilitate family reunification, and provide a secure haven for individuals escaping oppression or other humanitarian crises.
In 2022, Canada set a new record with 437,000 admissions of new immigrants. They have set the target for permanent resident entries at 465,000 for 2023.
In the late 1980s, Canada increased immigration levels, marking a significant shift in its immigration strategy. Before this, the government had not placed as much emphasis on long-term immigration planning and typically determined immigration targets based on the current economic conditions.
Canada’s Immigration Levels Began to Rise in the Late 1980s
In 1984, Canada admitted fewer than 90,000 immigrants. As the 1990s approached, the federal government, which was under the leadership of the Conservative party at the time, recognized an impending labor shortage and raised immigration targets to accommodate 250,000 new permanent residents over eight years.
Following the election of the Liberal government in 1993, this trend of increasing immigration targets continued. The government also began prioritizing economic-class immigrants. Reduced the share of family and humanitarian-class admissions to support the economy during a recession. As a result, the current Liberal government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, took office in 2015. He admitted around 260,000 immigrants annually. Under this administration, immigration targets rose to 300,000 and 340,000 shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic 2020.
Despite pandemic-related restrictions in 2021, Canada achieved a record-breaking number of permanent resident admissions, with 405,000 new immigrants welcomed.
Presently, Canada faces challenges such as an affordability crisis and a housing shortage. This have led to reduced enthusiasm for immigration among Canadians, as indicated by several polls. Nevertheless, the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) maintains high immigration targets due to a shortage of skilled labor resulting from a low birth rate and the impending retirement of millions of Canadian workers as they reach the age of 65. Notably, newcomers account for 98% of Canada’s population growth, according to Statistics Canada’s latest population estimate.