Government to ease immigration targets, capping new entrants to Canada at 500,000

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OTTAWA – The Liberal government is gently easing the brakes on Canada’s immigration growth still moving ahead to record numbers, pausing it at 500,000 newcomers a year and taking a closer look at temporary resident programs.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller revealed the new immigration levels plan in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon. The government is continuing with plans to welcome 485,000 new permanent residents in 2024 and 500,000 people in 2025, but it will pause the growth in 2026 holding at 500,000 people.

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When the Trudeau government came to power in 2015, Canada’s target was under 300,000 people, but they have gradually increased it each year welcoming more newcomers. The immigration levels plan is presented each year in the House of Commons, but it doesn’t account for non-permanent arrivals like temporary foreign workers and international students.

Miller said Canada still needs high levels of immigration, noting that 50 years ago the country had seven workers for every retiree, but that number is falling as the country ages.

“If we don’t welcome more newcomers, that number will approach two to one in the decades ahead, putting our infrastructure and key programs like our health care and education at risk,” he said.

Miller said the government is pausing the growth in 2026 because of pressures on the Canadian housing market and healthcare system and his government intends to work closer with provinces and cities to ensure the people coming to Canada have services in place.

Miller said a review the department conducted this year and released on Tuesday found the Canadians are still enthusiastic about immigration, but they want it better managed.

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“They’re not xenophobic. They’re asking us to get a little more organized. I think that’s what we’re trying to do today,” he said.

Miller said his department will also be looking closer at temporary programs like international students. Last year alone, nearly 900,000 international students came to Canada, a three-fold increase since the Liberals came to office.

He said the government has to take a close look at those programs to see if they are working as designed and work with provinces who control the post-secondary institutions who recruit students from all over the world.

He said some people have seen the program as a back-door to Canadian citizenship and expectations have to be made clear.

“if you’re an international student you’re there to study. It does not necessarily guarantee you a path to permanent residency, a job or Canadian citizenship,” he said.

Miller said temporary foreign worker programs also need a review to ensure that they are not being used for the wrong reasons.

“We are a country that has become quite addicted to temporary foreign workers with some perverse incentives and results that have been created,” he said.

Twitter: RyanTumilty
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