Immigration plan needs higher economic allocation

By Staff

The federal government missed a chance to meet the nation’s demand for workers when it unveiled its updated plan for immigration levels, Toronto immigration lawyer Robin Seligman tells

Federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen recently revealed that Canada will admit more than one million new permanent residents over the next three years, including a target of 330,000 in 2019 alone, or around one per cent of the population.

By 2021, the annual target will rise to 350,000, but the proportion of new immigrants in the economic class will remain static each year at just over 50 per cent, with the remainder of the new arrivals coming via family sponsorship programs, as refugees or for other humanitarian reasons.

“It’s great that the number is going up, but the economic component should be higher considering the skills shortages and gaps in our labour market,” says Seligman, principal of Seligman Immigration Law. “It seems like the economic class is being held back in order to keep the acceptance of the general public but we need a larger number of workers if the system is going to remain viable.

“One area that is totally forgotten about is business applicants,” adds Seligman, who notes that the federal government plans to admit just 700 people in each of the next three years under the federal business program, which is aimed at self-employed business people and startup founders.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Press reports that some advocates and economic groups called for even higher numbers of permanent residents under the federal plan, including the government's own economic advisory council, which suggested in a 2016 report that 450,000 new arrivals should be admitted.

Hussen acknowledged to the news outlet that many areas of the country badly need economic immigration.

"In certain regions, the hunger for workers is huge," he said. "This plan is making us very competitive in the global market. It enables us to continue to be competitive, it enables us to continue to present Canada as a welcoming country and to position us to continue to be (a leader) in skills attraction."

But he added that his government is taking a measured approach that accounts for the state of the country’s settlement services.

"You need to be able to house them, you need to be able to settle them, you need to be able to provide integration services," Hussen said. "We can't just go to 450,000 at once. You need to build up to that."

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