Immigration Minister Sean Fraser will speak to the media about the plan at 11 AM ET today. CIC News will update this story with Canada’s new targets once the plan has been made public. The Immigration Levels Plan acts as a guide for the number of immigrants Canada aims to welcome over the next three years.

Canada is releasing its Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025 this morning.

Canada’s Immigration Minister Sean Fraser will hold a press conference about the plan at 11 AM Eastern Time. CIC News will update this story with Canada’s new immigration targets once the plan has been made public.

Canada broke its all-time immigration record by welcoming over 405,000 immigrants in 2021 and is looking to welcome nearly 432,000 immigrants this year. It is expected the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025 will feature new increases to Canada’s targets. The main question is whether Canada will aim for modest increases or set the bar significantly higher by aiming to welcome some 500,000 immigrants per year in the near future.

The Immigration Levels Plan acts as a guide for the number of immigrants Canada aims to welcome each year. Canada’s immigration goals include growing the economy, reuniting families, and offering asylum to refugees fleeing hardship abroad.

The country is currently in a unique period where there is a labour shortage alongside nearly one million job vacancies. Both are driving factors in the country’s growing immigration targets.

Labour shortages are further impacted by Canada’s low birth rate of 1.4 children per women, one of the lowest globally. Due to the slow natural increase in the population (the number of births still exceeds the number of deaths each year), immigration will soon be the only way that Canada’s population and labour force will be able to grow. Newcomers are also needed to maintain a strong tax base, which is a key factor in Canada’s efforts to provide essential services such as education and healthcare.

Canada has one of the world’s oldest populations. Approximately nine million people, or nearly a quarter of Canada’s population, will reach retirement age by 2030. This will create an urgent shortage of workers throughout all sectors of the economy.

The government must announce the Immigration Levels Plan each year by November 1 as per the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), which is Canada’s main immigration law. However, the 2022-2024 immigration levels plan was the second announced in 2022, the first occurred in February after the most recent federal election on September 20, 2021, caused the 2021 announcement to be delayed.

Canada’s three admissions classes

The majority of new permanent residents immigrate through economic class programs such as those within the Express Entry system or through Provincial Nomination Programs (PNPs).

IRCC also has a mandate to reunite families. After economic class programs, family class sponsorship is the second largest permanent residence class set out by the Immigration Levels Plan. Under family class immigration programs, applicants are sponsored for permanent residence by a spouse, partner, children, or other family member.

Refugees and humanitarian class immigrants also have an allocation under the Immigration Levels Plan. Canada has a long-standing reputation of extending asylum to displaced persons fleeing unsafe situations in their home countries.

Canada’s immigration strategy

Canada’s current immigration strategy began to take its current form in the 1980s. At that time, the government did not look as far into the future and often based immigration targets on the economy of the day.

In 1984, Canada welcomed fewer than 90,000 immigrants. Leading into the 1990s, the Canadian government under the Conservatives recognized the impending shortage of labour and increased immigration targets to 250,000 new permanent residents in the space of eight years.

The following Liberal government built on these targets but due to an economic recession, also began to place more emphasis on inviting newcomers more economic class immigrants and reducing Canada’s family and humanitarian class shares.

Canada welcomed some 260,000 immigrants annually until current Liberal government took power in 2015.  The targets were increased to 300,000, followed by 340,000 right before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The closure of borders and other travel restrictions in 2020 made it difficult for IRCC to process applications. Still, Canada exceeded its 2021 immigration target and broke the record for the most permanent residents invited in a year, at 405,000. These targets were reached through large allocations of spots through the Canadian Experience Class and Provincial Nomination Programs (PNPs).

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