Canada’s efforts to boost its labour force with foreign employees will be maintained, if not accelerated, under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new immigration minister.
The Immigration Minister, Sean Fraser, who took over after Trudeau’s Liberals were re-elected in October, said the government is on track to meet its goal of giving permanent status to 4,01,000 people this year. Fraser stated in an interview with Bloomberg that if more immigrants are needed to fill labour shortages, he’s willing to expand immigrant targets, which are presently set at 4,11,000 for next year.
“That’s something I’m very much open to,” Fraser said on a phone call, adding no decision has been made yet on future targets. Any pick-up in numbers will be conditional on appetite from businesses and communities for more workers, he said.
According to Fraser, the administration has until mid-February to present revised immigration targets to Parliament.
Canada’s biggest economic driver has been international migration, with foreign-born employees accounting for nearly all of the country’s job growth over the last decade. Canada, like other countries, has an ageing native-born population and low fertility rates, but it has managed to create the Group of Seven’s highest population growth over the years.
For example, high levels of foreign-born workers have helped to alleviate wage constraints in Canada in recent months, even as inflation has risen. As travel restrictions decreased during the pandemic, the government responded by converting more temporary foreign employees and students already in the country into permanent residents, providing them with a road to citizenship.
There are over a million persons in the country who do not have either citizenship or immigration status. In October, Canada approved 46,000 newcomers for permanent status. The strategy was successful.
According to Immigration Canada figures from October, 46,315 persons were given permanent status, a monthly high that brings the total number of new immigrants this year to 3,13,838.
To meet this goal, Canada must grant permanent residency to 44,000 entrants in each of the final two months of 2021. “We are more than on pace to hit our target of 4,01,000 for the year, which I think a lot of people doubted,” Fraser said.
He also stated that immigration has been critical in mitigating the pandemic’s negative economic effects and will aid in navigating future labour shortages. “Targeting a pool of talent that exists globally to fill gaps in the Canadian labour force has to be part of the strategy,” according to Fraser.