Will Canada welcome over 500,000 new immigrants per year?
Minister Sean Fraser believes Canada’s immigration levels will surpass 500,000 per year “sooner rather than later”, but the minister cautioned that future increases must be done in a careful manner that supports the needs of communities across the country.
The immigration minister was in Toronto last week to speak at Collision, a global technology conference. Following his speaking engagement, he sat down with CIC News for an in-depth conversation on the future of Canada’s immigration system.
Canada now seeking over 430,000 immigrants annually
Prior to the pandemic, Canada was seeking over 340,000 new immigrants per year but immigration fell in 2020 due to travel restrictions and Canadian government officials needing to work remotely. In October 2020, Canada announced it would seek over 400,000 immigrants annually beginning in 2021 to support its post-COVID economic recovery. Canada ended up exceeding its target by landing a record 405,000 new permanent residents last year.
In February, Fraser tabled Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024. Canada is now seeking over 430,000 immigrants per year and will target 450,000 by 2024.
Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025: Over 500,000 new permanent residents per year?
Fraser is due to announce updated targets yet again by this November 1st, when he announces the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025.
Although it is still too early to finalize the 2023-2025 plan, CIC News asked Fraser to share his early thoughts on the plan, and more specifically, whether he was working towards getting the annual target to over 500,000 per year.
“Look, I wouldn’t put it on the clock. I think we will get there. We’re growing in excess of 1% of our population through the existing track. That trajectory is going to continue. I don’t know the exact year we’re going to cross that threshold [500,000 immigrants per year]. It’s going to be based on the needs of communities.”
“It’s not a point of pride that I have to be the minister that gets to 500,000…what’s important to me is that I’m meeting the needs of communities and giving them the opportunity to experience success through our immigration system. If that means we have to welcome 500,000 new permanent residents in a calendar year, then that’s great. And I’m very happy to advance that.”
“My sense is we’re going to get there sooner rather than later, because the needs and opportunities associated with welcoming newcomers are great. And if we can ensure we do not exceed our absorptive capacity of our communities on our way to getting there, then this is going to be a huge strategic advantage for Canada.”
Fraser is aware of the importance of providing enough supports to Canadians and newcomers alike
Among the major immigration levels considerations is Canada’s capacity to provide the necessary infrastructure and supports to its existing population as well as new arrivals.
While speaking on stage at Collision, the minister was asked whether he felt Canada had enough housing available to accommodate its rising immigrant population.
The minister replied this issue is top of mind with his federal colleagues in Ottawa.
“In the House of Commons I sit next to one of my predecessors, minister Ahmed Hussen who is now Canada’s minister for housing. Our conversation on housing usually goes as follows. Ahmed, will you be able to build houses fast enough for Canada’s new immigrants? He replies, Sean, will you bring immigrant workers into Canada quickly enough to build the houses?”