Why Canada is prioritizing immigration during the pandemic

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Population and labour force growth are important to keeping the Canadian economy strong.

Throughout its history, Canada has relied on newcomers to help stimulate economic growth.

“Immigration is becoming even more important to Canada’s economic success,” says Marc Desormeaux, senior Scotiabank economist. “Canada’s population is aging and its birth rate was among the lowest in the G7 before the pandemic. Over time, those factors are expected to limit the pool of workers available. Welcoming newcomers helps to offset these economic challenges.”

Canada’s commitment to immigration

Despite its population challenges, Canada was the only G7 country that saw an increase in population before the pandemic thanks in large part to its open immigration policy, which allowed foriegn talent to come to Canada.

In response to the pandemic, the Canadian government released a new plan in October 2020 to support economic recovery through immigration.  This plan details the quantities of immigrants we hope to welcome.  This policy was made to ensure that Canada has enough workers to fill labor gaps and remain competitive on the world stage.  The new targets are as follows: 401,000 in 2021; 411,000 in 2022, and 421,000 in 2023.

The impact of COVID-19 on immigration rates

With travel restrictions in place to control the spread of COVID-19, immigration has dropped significantly.

Statistics Canada reported that as of January 1, 2021, Canada experienced the lowest annual growth rate since 1916. This drop has impacted all provinces, as newcomer admissions fell from almost 342,000 in 2019 to about 185,000 in 2020—a 45% plunge, Desormeaux says.

“So far in 2021, immigrant admissions are up 25% versus the same period last year, but still well below pre-pandemic levels,” Desormeaux says. “Canada has seen a rise in the number of permanent residents who previously held temporary work and study permits. The recent improvements in immigration levels stem from changes in the immigration status of individuals already in the country.”

He continues, “The government’s ability to hit its immigration targets will ultimately depend on how quickly Canada is able to get its population vaccinated and how quickly global travel rates recover.”

“In general, we’re optimistic about Canada’s ability to attract skilled newcomers after the pandemic,” says Desormeaux.

This optimism is echoed in a March 2021 report from the Boston Consulting Group, which conducted a study of 209,000 people in 190 countries and found that “Canada is now the first choice of foreign workers.”

The benefits of immigration

The benefits of immigration to Canada are far-reaching and mutually beneficial for both the newcomers who make Canada their home as well as the country itself. Canada is expanding its immigration plans because:

  1. Immigrants contribute to economic growth

    Immigration is a key element of economic growth in Canada.  It contributes billions of dollars to the gross domestic profit (GDP). When newcomers come to Canada, they stimulate the economy by spending money on goods, housing, and transportation.

  2. Immigrants support an aging workforce

    Immigration helps support Canadian business and the economy as a whole by providing much needed foreign talent to help offset the aging/retiring workforce here at home. According to data from Scotiabank’s Global Economics Provincial Pulse Report, many newcomers to Canada, specifically to central Canada, are younger than the Canadian population as a whole. This helps to offset losses from an aging Canadian-born population.

  3. Immigrants provide skilled workers

    Canadian immigration programs that prioritize highly skilled workers and university-educated newcomers have also resulted in strong job creation in high-wage sectors such as professional, scientific, and technical services. In fact, “the number one limiter for growth for our business customers was a shortage of skilled labour,” says Dan Rees, Group Head, Canadian Banking for Scotiabank. Immigration helps to solve this problem as immigrants represent 50% of all degree-holders in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM fields).

  4. Immigrants create jobs and strengthen trade 

    Immigrants are also large contributors to innovation and job creation with a higher rate of entrepreneurship than their Canadian-born counterparts. Immigrant-owned businesses can also improve trade ties to Canada by having a large professional network from their home country that encourages international investment.

How businesses can support newcomers to Canada

Immigrating to a new country comes with challenges such as learning a new language, getting used to the weather, and adapting to a new culture. Immigrating during a global pandemic makes this even more challenging.

In addition to Canada’s strong immigration policy, the business community can also help immigrants get acclimated to their new lives. Here are four ways newcomers can find support from Canadian businesses:

  • Using resources provided by businesses to advance their financial literacy
  • Seeking out businesses that have implemented workforce diversification initiatives
  • Businesses help newcomers adjust to a Canadian work environment (work culture, and workplace etiquette.
  • Businesses also provide support for newcomers to build up their social and professional networks.

How Immigrate can help

Immigrate helps connect people who need immigration help with Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants. Our team of experts can help you make a plan, review any applications you have prepared or help you with the whole process. Get the help you need when you need it. Our process is completed all online in a safe, secure platform so no matter where you are in the world you can get access to Canadian experts.

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