CIMM - 2021-2023 Multi-Year Levels Plan - Mar 10, 2021
The 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan sets out a path for responsible increases to immigration targets to help the Canadian economy recover from COVID-19, with about 60% of admissions to come from the economic class. These increases will help offset the shortfall from 2020.
The plan to welcome over 1.2 million newcomers over three years will help cement Canada’s place among the world’s top destinations for talent, while reuniting family members with their loved ones and fulfilling Canada’s humanitarian commitment.
While travel restrictions remain in place to protect the health and safety of Canadians, IRCC is exploring new ways for those who have already been hard at work in Canada to stay permanently.
Amid the economic uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada still faces demographic challenges due to our aging population that immigration helps to address.
The 2021-2023 Multi-Year Levels Plan was tabled in Parliament on October 30, 2020, with targets of 401,000 permanent residents in 2021 (range: 300,000- 410,000); 411,000 in 2022 (range: 320,000-420,000); and 421,000 in 2023 (range: 330,000- 430,000).
The plan increases admissions to offset the impacts of COVID-19, including a projected shortfall in 2020 of about 150,000 (actual shortfall was approximately 156,600). Unlike in previous years, this year’s plan features significantly lowered ranges in each year to provide flexibility for potential ongoing pandemic-related impacts—including travel restrictions and the possibility of interruptions to business resumption.
The Multi-Year Levels Plan has three broad objectives: 1) achieving long-term benefits for Canada; 2) contributing to short-term economic growth and addressing labour market needs for different regions; and 3) ensuring a well-managed migration system that can maintain public confidence.
Each year, the Government will confirm, and adjust as needed, the levels targets for the following and subsequent year(s) to ensure new developments and priorities are reflected. The Department has an established and robust framework within which it continues to ensure provinces, territories, and stakeholders are consulted to inform the next levels plan (2022-2024).
Quebec’s immigration levels plan is established annually by the province and is reflected in the federal levels plan. Under the Canada-Quebec Accord, Quebec has full responsibility for the selection of immigrants destined to the province with the exception of Family Class and Protected Persons.
The Government of Canada will remain focused on welcoming highly skilled people who can build a stronger country, and ensuring Canada lives up to its family reunification and international and humanitarian obligations.
The Department is innovating and has successfully implemented new ways to grant new permanent resident status, including facilitating virtual landings for in-Canada applicants.
Pandemic-related restrictions, including the closure of the border to the vast majority of permanent residents, continues to pose a challenge to meeting the 2021 immigration levels targets (401,000), although it is expected that admissions will be within the range (300,000 to 410,000 for 2021).
To support admissions, solutions are being explored across all lines of business to leverage in-Canada populations, including exploring exceptional and time-limited measures for candidates who are already working in Canada so they can stay here permanently.
On February 13, 2021, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued all candidates in the Express Entry pool who are eligible for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), an invitation to apply for permanent residence. This large “draw” from Express Entry resulted in invitations to apply for permanent residency being sent to over 27,000 candidates, over 90% of whom are already in Canada and employed.
All successful CEC candidates have Canadian work experience and have already proven that they can contribute to Canadian economy. Individuals who qualify for this program have high human capital, and have demonstrated that they have at least a year’s worth of skilled Canadian work experience and sufficient proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages.
In addition, the Department has:
processed more categories of applications virtually and is catching up to pre-pandemic processing rates;
pivoted to deliver many services remotely, including asylum claims and citizenship ceremonies; and
helped service providers retool and address newcomer settlement needs.
Maximizing admissions from individuals overseas for 2021 will only be possible when the border reopens, with arrivals less likely in 2021 as border restrictions remain in place and individuals require preparation time to travel to Canada.
Included in these objectives, is the Government’s goal of achieving a target of 4.4% of French-speaking immigrants outside of Quebec by 2023. Higher admissions in the Economic Class, as well as recent increases for French speakers in Express Entry are key elements in advancing this objective.
Role of Immigration in Canada’s Economic Recovery
In the short term, immigration will play a vital role in building back better and strengthening our post-COVID-19 economic recovery.
Canada continues to have persistent gaps to fill in the labour market, with employers and community leaders who are looking for immigrants to contribute. Health care and agriculture are two sectors where Canadians have most recently witnessed the importance of the contribution of immigrants during the pandemic. Accordingly, the Speech from the Throne recognized the importance of immigration as part of both the short-term economic recovery and a long-term plan for growth, an approach to leverage to keep Canada competitive on the world stage. Likewise, it recognized the economic and social benefits of family class immigration.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has a baseline of funding to deliver 351,000 permanent resident admissions in 2021 and 361,000 permanent resident admissions in 2022 and future years. Additional Funding has been earmarked by the Department of Finance for the 2021-2023 Multi-Year Levels Plan and will be sought by the Department through Supplementary Estimates (B). This funding would allow the Department and its partners to deliver on the target of 401,000 permanent residents in 2021; 411,000 in 2022; and 421,000 in 2023 and future years, building off the investments announced in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement.
Supporting Facts and Figures
While Canadians remain concerned about public health and job security, overall public support for immigration in Canada has remained stable and relatively strong.
As recently as polling in August and September 2020, support for immigration – including at the current levels – is holding, including views that immigration’s effect on Canada is positive. However, some Canadians, in particular in Toronto and Vancouver, have expressed concerns about Canada’s ability to absorb immigration at this time.
With an aging population and declining fertility rates, as well as labour and economic challenges, the Canadian labour force and population growth will depend even more on immigration in the long term.
In 2020, the Department confirmed permanent resident status for almost 184,400 newcomers, representing about 54% of the overall target.
Of all permanent resident admissions so far in 2020, 58% were in the Economic Class.
Immigration helps maintain the vitality of official language communities; the Government of Canada has a 4.4% target for Francophone immigration outside of Quebec by 2023.
Generally, Canada’s integration outcomes are strong for first generation immigrants, and get even stronger in second and further generations. However, in previous periods of economic downturn, immigrants have taken longer than usual to converge with average Canadian earnings.
A big and relatively open immigration program demonstrates international leadership and can further international interests, trade connections, and Canada’s comparative advantage in terms of working-age populations and labour force supply.
Mandate commitment: Delivering the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan is a part of Minister Mendicino’s December 2019 mandate commitment to “ensure the effective implementation of Canada’s increased annual Immigration Levels Plan for 2020-2022, attracting more than a million new permanent residents to Canada over that time”. This commitment was reinforced in a supplementary mandate letter released on January 15, 2021 stating that the Department should “continue to bring newcomers to Canada safely to drive economic growth and recovery, as recently set out in the 2021-2023 Levels Plan”. This aligns with the September 2020 Speech from the Throne, which focuses on capitalizing on our pandemic recovery efforts in order to become the world’s top destination for talent, capital, and jobs.
Levels planning: The Immigration Levels Plan is a statutory requirement. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act requires that a projection of permanent resident admissions for the coming year be tabled in Parliament by November 1 of the preceding year, or if the House is not in session, within 30 sitting days once the House resumes. By setting targets and planning ranges for each of the immigration categories, the Government establishes priorities among economic, social, and humanitarian objectives. Levels planning then enables the Department and its partners to allocate processing, security, and settlement resources accordingly.
Quebec: Under the Canada-Quebec Accord, Quebec has full responsibility for the selection of immigrants destined to the province (except Family Class and in-Canada refugee claimants). The accord commits the federal government to take into consideration Quebec’s desired levels in all categories. Quebec’s immigration levels plan is established annually and incorporated in the federal levels plan.
Multi-year planning: In fall 2017, Canada introduced its first Multi-Year Immigration Levels Plan in over a decade. The current plan adds an additional year (2023), maintaining the three-year planning horizon set out in last year’s plan. Prior to the 2018-2020 levels plan, the most recent multi-year plan was in 2001-2002. Three- and five-year plans were introduced in the 1980s and 1990s.
A multi-year approach provides the means to set out a longer-term vision and make the decisions and investments needed to achieve it. It supports better planning by securing approvals and investments earlier, providing time for the Department and partners to adjust their capacity to manage projected levels.
The levels plan is a statement of public policy and is a key tool to communicate the Government’s immigration priorities to partners (including provinces and territories), stakeholders, and the public.
Canada is recognized internationally (e.g. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) for its approach to managed migration, including specifically its use of immigration levels plans for setting transparent priorities and targets. Canada is among very few countries, like Australia and New Zealand, which have also adopted this approach.
Processing times: Processing times for applications for permanent residence can be affected by a number of factors including available levels space as well as processing capacity within IRCC and its partners.
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