The Economic Impact of Canada’s Record-Breaking Migration Surge

For the second time since its inception as a country in 1867, Canada has welcomed over 400,000 new inhabitants in 2021. The country has set a new all-time high for permanent residence landings in a single year. Canada’s immigration levels have been among the highest in the world for decades. Canada highly relies on immigration to fuel its economy and support an aging population. Canada is one of the most immigrant-friendly countries in the world, with its acceptance rate at 1%. This makes it an attractive destination for people from all over, including economic migrants who want to make use of Canada’s generous social safety net.

Prior to the pandemic, Canada set a target of 341,000 new immigrants in 2020. However, due to the pandemic, it only landed 184,000 people last year. It did, however, double down on immigration to support its post-pandemic economic recovery in 2021. The only other time Canada spent the 400,000 immigrant mark was in 1913, but the outbreak of World War I caused a drop in immigration in the years that followed.

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A landing can occur when a temporary resident of Canada’s legal status changes to permanent residence or when they arrive in Canada from abroad and officially gain permanent resident status. Prior to the pandemic, the majority of new immigrants came from other countries. This year, however, IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) has prioritized transitioning those already in the country in order to meet its newcomer goal. The reasoning has been that those who are already in Canada are less likely to be affected by COVID-related disruptions that may impede their ability to obtain permanent residency.

Prior to the pandemic, approximately 30% of new economic-class immigrants were already in the country when they obtained permanent residency, while around 70% moved from abroad. In 2021, this was reversed, with approximately 70% arriving from within Canada and about 30% arriving from abroad. Among the changes are Express Entry draws for Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates and the launch of six streams in May to provide pathways to permanent residence for up to 90,000 international students and temporary foreign workers in Canada. The temporary foreign worker influx can be attributed to the fact that Canada’s economy is growing and needs an influx of talent to fill the gaps. As a result, the Canadian government has also been expanding its immigration policies to accommodate for this increase in demand.

The economic impact of high immigration levels has been staggering for Canada and will continue to be so in the future as Canada continues to welcome more migrants into its borders. In Canada, immigrants are a key part of the economy and society. They have helped grow Canada’s GDP by 0.5% per year since the 1990s. According to the Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023, Canada expects to welcome 411,000 new immigrants in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023. Fraser will unveil the new Immigration Levels Plan by the end of the year.

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