CIMM - 2021-2023 Multi-Year Levels Plan - Nov 25, 2020
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 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan 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.
Canada will continue welcoming newcomers who bring the skills our economy needs to help recover and keep growing as we move forward.
Even amid the economic uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada still faces demographic challenges due to our aging population that immigration helps 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; 411,000 in 2022; and 421,000 in 2023.
The 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan increases admissions to offset the impacts of COVID-19, including a shortfall in 2020 of about 150,000. Unlike previous plans, this year’s plan features significantly lowered ranges in each year to provide flexibility for potential ongoing pandemic-related impacts—including travel restrictions, the possibility of interruptions to business resumption and a slow start to 2021 admissions, given lower application inventories than is typical.
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 will continue to consult with provinces and territories, and with stakeholders, to inform the next levels plan (2022-2024).
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.
Permanent resident processing
While the Department continues to accept and process permanent resident applications, most processing centres overseas and offices in Canada continue to operate at reduced capacity. Furthermore, the Department’s partners are also working with limited capacity.
Given the ongoing travel restrictions in place in Canada, and in many countries around the world, migration is severely limited. For this reason, the Department is focusing on inviting, processing and landing in-Canada applicants in order to be well-positioned for admissions from abroad once travel restrictions ease and clients are willing to travel again. Though IRCC is unable to approve many overseas clients for international travel and landing in Canada, the Department continues to process electronic files in preparation for the lifting of border restrictions.
In order to support inviting, processing, as well as the landing of, in‑Canada applicants, the Department has:
launched Express Entry rounds of invitations for the Canadian Experience Class and Provincial Nominee Program, targeting applicants already residing in Canada and those who have been recently nominated by provinces and territories; and
granted permanent resident status virtually to almost 42,200 approved in-Canada applicants since April 20, 2020, when a new process to confirm permanent resident status electronically was implemented.
Given the global travel restrictions and potential changes to client behavior, the Department will continue to examine the evolving impact of COVID-19 on the current Multi-Year Levels Plan (2021-2023).
Processing applications destined to Quebec
Quebec’s immigration levels plan is established annually and incorporated in the federal levels plan.
The number of Quebec-destined Family Class applications already exceeded Quebec’s available levels space prior to the onset of Covid-19. At that time, processing times were nearly 17 months and rising at the end of February 2020 for Quebec-destined spouses, partners and children. Since the beginning of the pandemic, inventory levels have increased due to the low level of application processing over several months, which is expected to lead to increased processing times.
In September and October, application processing has increased significantly, and nearly all Family Class clients are now exempt from border restrictions.
Processing times are still expected to increase significantly for Quebec-destined Family Class clients as the inventory of older files is processed.
Pathways to permanent residence
Temporary foreign workers have multiple pathways to permanent residence through our federal economic programs and the Provincial Nominee Program.
The Federal High Skilled category, managed through the Express Entry system, is Canada’s flagship economic pathway.
Many of the Department’s recent pilot programs have been specifically designed to provide temporary residents with a clear pathway to remaining in Canada as permanent residents. These include the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, which provides skilled foreign workers and international graduates seeking to live and work in Atlantic Canada with a pathway to permanent residence, and additional allocations under the Provincial Nominee Program for temporary foreign workers employed in intermediate skilled jobs.
The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot, which began accepting applications in spring 2020, is designed to help address the labour needs of the Canadian agri-food sector, particularly in meat processing and mushroom production. The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is designed to attract and retain skilled newcomers in 11 rural communities to support local economies. The first two permanent resident landings from this Pilot occurred in Sault Ste Marie in September 2020.
The Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot is an innovative approach for skilled refugees to find durable solutions in Canada and fill in-demand labour market needs. As part of its ongoing commitment to labour mobility, Canada will admit 500 refugees over the next two years through the Project, which facilitates access to permanent residence for qualified refugees via existing economic immigration programs.
Admissions have been allocated within the “Humanitarian and Compassionate and other” category for applicants under the two “Guardian Angels” public policies, a pathway to permanent residency for eligible asylum claimants and failed refugees who worked on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. This measure recognizes the exceptional service of these persons across the country who are providing direct care to patients in healthcare institutions. Quebec will select those qualifying for this special measure who wish to reside in Quebec.
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.
From January 1 to September 30, 2020, the Department confirmed permanent resident status for almost 143,200 newcomers.
Of all permanent resident admissions so far in 2020, 62% (or almost 88,100) 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 2020-2022 Immigration Levels Plan is a part of Minister Mendicino’s 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 continues our modest and responsible increases to immigration, with a focus on welcoming highly skilled people who can help build a stronger Canada.” The 2021-2023 levels plan supports this commitment and aligns with the recent 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. Organisation 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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