Miller promises improvements to immigration ahead of announcement on new targets

The immigration minister says Canada needs large volumes of newcomers to fill positions in industries going through labour shortages

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OTTAWA — Ahead of an announcement expected Wednesday on Canada’s immigration levels, Minister Marc Miller promised a streamlined process for newcomers and better alignment with provinces to ensure the country can absorb the people it welcomes from around the world.

On Tuesday, Miller released a new report on what his department has identified as the problems in the immigration system, while also proposing some solutions to the backlogs and other issues facing migrants to Canada. That report was the result of consultations across the country with provinces, business groups and immigrants themselves about what is broken in the system.

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On Wednesday, Miller will update Canada’s immigration levels plan, which sets out how many immigrants the country will take in over the next three years and in which categories. The country’s current target is for 485,000 newcomers in 2024 and 500,000 people in 2025.

Miller didn’t reveal his new target, but said Canada needs large volumes of newcomers to fill positions in industries going through labour shortages and to balance out the country’s aging population.

“We need workers to help address challenges like building homes and supporting health care. With an aging population, people living longer, families having fewer children, Canada imperatively needs immigration to rebalance our demographics,” he said.

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Miller said Canada’s housing crunch is a problem decades in the making that both Liberal and Conservative governments have contributed to, as well as provincial governments, but the construction industry could be 100,000 people short in the decades to come if Canada doesn’t attract people from around the world to help fill those jobs.

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“If we just don’t have people, we will not be able to build the houses that people want to build,” he said.

Miller said he is looking at a variety of options to better align the system with what Canada needs. The government has done draws for new immigrants that focus on the construction trades and health care, two areas of particularly acute labour shortages. He said they will consider everything, including permanent changes to the country’s point system, which gives immigrants a score based on their work experience, language abilities and education.

Housing pressures and issues accomodating refugees have seen some groups call for a pause in the number of immigrants Canada is accepting each year, which is at a historic high. Miller said Canadians value immigration, but it needs to be well managed and co-ordinated between governments and that is what his government intends to do so people who come to Canada have health care and housing available.

“Canadians aren’t closed to immigration, but they want people like me, they want provinces, they want cities to do a better job in coordinating the arrival of immigrants,” he said.

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Canada also brought in nearly 900,000 international students in the last year, up threefold from where it was a decade ago. Miller’s predecessor, now Housing Minister Sean Fraser, floated the idea earlier this year of a cap on the number of international students.

Miller has already introduced some changes designed to root out fraud in that system, but said the entire system needs a review to make sure it is working as intended.

“This is something that needs some reform and a closer look at obviously juggling sometimes competing policy needs,” he said.

Miller will present the new immigration levels plan on Wednesday in the House of Commons.

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Originally posted 2023-10-31 21:31:27.