The federal government is greatly increasing immigration targets for the next three years and will offer a path to citizenship for temporary foreign workers, asylum seekers and international students currently in Canada to make up for a critical shortfall in immigration resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.Canada will welcome 401,000 permanent residents in 2021, up from a previous target of 351,000; 411,000 in 2022, up from 361,000; and 421,000 in 2023. The new plan assumes that international travel will return to normal next year. Because of closed borders, shuttered visa offices, quarantine restrictions and few available international flights, Canada is expected to take in only a fraction of the 341,000 permanent residents it was expected to welcome this year. To partially compensate for the shortfall, the government plans to begin granting permanent-resident status to some temporary foreign workers currently in Canada. Normally those workers would be required to return to their home countries when their visas expire. Similarly, international students at Canadian colleges and universities may be eligible to apply for permanent resident status. And asylum claimants who have found work and established ties to their communities, including those who crossed the Canada-U.S. border at unauthorized entry points, may be eligible to apply.
“We have a unique opportunity to take a look at the talent and the experience which is already within our borders – which includes workers, students, asylum seekers – who are already contributing in some very exceptional ways and in some of the most essential parts of the economy,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said in an interview. The goal of the new plan is to “recognize those exceptional contributions and to incentivize them to stay by broadening the opportunities for permanent residency,” he said. The new immigration targets are very aggressive, even for a country with one of the world’s most open immigration policies. Liberal politicians have long talked of setting an intake equivalent to 1 per cent of Canada’s population, which is currently 38 million, according to Statistics Canada. That goal, however, has never been met in modern times.The government has already offered permanent-resident status to asylum seekers who were working in the stressed health care and long-term care sectors.
source; JOHN IBBITSON, ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANADIAN PRESS