Canada has announced it will raise its annual immigrant intake by 13 percent, with plans to welcome 1 million new migrants by 2020. This new rate is however below that advised by the government council in 2016, consisting of a 50 percent increase over the next five years.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said at a press conference November 1 that Canada wants to attract 310,000 migrants next year, 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020. “Two thirds of these arrivals should relate to the economic needs of the country,” he added.
In 2017, the country with a population of 36.5 million will welcome an estimated 300,000 newcomers. Of those, roughly 58 percent of the newcomers (172,500) are expected to come under as economic migrants, 28 percent (84,000) through family reunification, and the rest, some 15 percent (43,500), as refugees or on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
“This plan will result in the most ambitious immigration levels in history and will guarantee Canada’s prosperity now and into the future,” he said.
While the new arrivals will push Canada’s population by 0.9 percent per year, many government advisors said the country needs at least 450,000 newcomers annually to support businesses and labour in face of an aging population and declining birth rates.
The national ratio of workers to retirees was 4.2 in 2010 against 6.6 in 1971. “It could fall to 2 by 2036,” warned the minister.
Canada’s immigration system is based on merit, focusing on welcoming skilled workers. However, Hussen stressed that the North American country struggled to connect them with job opportunities matching their skills and credentials. “It’s easy to bring somebody in; it’s another thing to make sure they succeed in Canada,” he said.
The Immigration Minister, a former Somali refugee, insisted how bringing newcomers is only “half of the job.” For Hussen, adequate support is necessary to ensure proper social integration.
Since 2015, Canada welcomed more than 40,000 Syrian refugees, and in 2017 more than 15,000 asylum seekers coming from the United States, as many expressed their fear of a U.S. immigration crackdown.
Many of the latter group headed to Quebec, sparking an anti-immigrant backlash in the French-speaking province. The military set up a tent encampment to house asylum seekers while they are being processed.
Hussen expressed his wariness about the rising anti-immigration sentiment in Canada, stating that while “we are lucky to have a broad support. It’s not consensus. There are people who oppose immigration.”