2019 Stakeholder Consultations on Immigration Levels and Mix: Final Report

Table of contents

Introduction

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act requires the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to table a projection of permanent resident admissions (the levels plan) in Parliament every year. The immigration levels plan details how many immigrants Canada will welcome as permanent residents under the economic, family, and refugee and humanitarian programs.

For ease of reference, see the full 2020-2022 immigration levels plan.

In the summer of 2019, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) engaged stakeholders through an online consultation survey, one of many tools used to help inform the immigration levels plan for 2020. In addition to this round of stakeholder consultations, IRCC has extensive and ongoing engagement with provinces and territories about immigration levels planning, which is a requirement of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and guided by a jointly developed consultation framework.Footnote 1 Furthermore, public opinion research is considered when developing the immigration levels plan.

Consultation method

From July 3 to August 2, 2019, a total of 513 stakeholder organizations were invited by email to read background information (see Annex 1) and participate in an online consultation survey (see Annex 2). Stakeholders included, but were not limited to, academia, employers, settlement and resettlement organizations, industry councils, various levels of government, francophone and official language minority organization, non-profit organizations, and immigration consultants. See Annex 3 for a full list of the participating stakeholders.

The survey link was open, and participants were advised that they could share the URL within their organization. The surveys were conducted in respondents' official language of choice. IRCC received a total of 247 completed surveys.

Sample Distribution
Province/Territory Response %
National Footnote 2 6%
British Columbia & Territories (British Columbia, Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, Nunavut) 18%
Prairies (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba) 28%
Ontario 34%
Quebec Footnote 3 2%
Atlantic Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador) 12%
Primary focus of stakeholder organization Footnote 4 Response %
Academia, research foundation, or think tank 11%
Employer or business 4%
Settlement and resettlement organization 37%
Industry or sector council 4%
Indigenous, First Nations, or Inuit organization 0%
Municipality or regional administration 3%
Francophone or official language minority community 6%
Crown corporation 0%
Government (federal, provincial, or territorial) 1%
Other (charity and non-profit, healthcare, immigration consultant, and legal services) 33%

Key findings

Please note that the findings summarized in this section reflect only the views of those who participated in the consultations. Results should not be projected as representative of the entire Canadian population, or of all IRCC stakeholders.Footnote 5 These results are intended to provide deeper insight into the underlying reasons for opinions provided in response to survey questions.

Furthermore, percentages have been rounded to whole numbers, and as a result, totals may not add up to 100.

Purpose of immigration

When asked what the most important reason is for Canada to have a robust immigration program, half of the respondents (51%) identified filling labour market gaps and bringing new skills as the top priority. When looking at regional distribution, 29% of respondents from the Atlantic Provinces also emphasized increasing Canada’s population as an immigration priority. This figure is well above the overall stakeholder total of 10%.

In addition to the specific options provided to participants, 7% of respondents chose the “Other” category. Some responses provided under this category regarding the purpose of immigration included prioritizing all elements but focusing on the balance between categories and using immigration to better prepare Canadians as global citizens.

Question: What would you say is the most important reason for Canada to have a robust immigration program?
  Response %
Filling labour market gaps and bringing new skills 51%
Reuniting families 2%
Supporting humanitarian commitments 11%
Increase Canada’s population 10%
Support community development 9%
Contribute to Canada’s diversity 12%
Other, please specify 7%

Multi-year levels planning

A large majority of respondents (86%) supported the continued use of a multi-year approach to immigration levels planning. Many respondents indicated that they prefer a rolling approach (63%) - what is currently in place - over a fixed approach (23%).

Immigration levels and mix

When asked about the current notional target for 2020 (i.e. 341,000 newcomers), 46% of respondents indicated that they believe that the 2020 target is for too few immigrants, and 42% of respondents indicated that they believe it is about right. Very few respondents (3%) said they feel the 2020 target is for too many immigrants.

A large proportion of respondents from the Atlantic Provinces (82%) indicated the current notional target for 2020 was for too few immigrants, a much higher percentage than the national stakeholder average of 46%.

Based on this survey, where growth is supported, it appears that participating stakeholders desire growth across all three immigration classes. When asked about the 2020 notional target for each of the three programs, 49% of respondents indicated that they believe there are too few economic immigrants, 50% that there are too few family class immigrants, and 43% that there are too few refugees and protected persons.

Question: The current plan sets a notional target for 2020 to welcome 341,000 newcomers (or approximately 0.92% of Canada’s population). In your opinion, do you feel that there are too many, too few, or about the right number of immigrants coming to Canada?
  Response %
Too many 3%
Too few 46%
About right 42%
Don’t know 9%
Question: The current plan sets a notional target for each immigration class for 2020. For each of the following immigration classes, do you feel that there are too many, too few, or about the right number of immigrants coming to Canada?
  Response %
Economic
Too many 5%
Too few 49%
About right 40%
Don’t know 6%
Family
Too many 5%
Too few 50%
About right 35%
Don’t know 9%
Refugees, Protected Persons, and Humanitarian
Too many 8%
Too few 43%
About right 37%
Don’t know 12%

Furthermore, when asked about levels beyond 2021, over half of respondents (53%) said they would like to see immigration levels continue to increase each year, while a third of respondents (34%) indicated levels should stabilize at 350,000 immigrants per year.

If immigration levels were to increase, 58% of respondents indicated that economic immigration should be prioritized over the family class and the refugee and protected persons class.

Question: If immigration levels were to increase, in which immigration class would you prioritize growth?
  Response %
Economic 58%
Family 20%
Refugees and protected persons 18%
Don’t know 4%

However, if immigration levels were to decrease, 56% of respondents did not know which of the three classes should be reduced.

Question: If immigration levels were to decrease, in which immigration class would you prefer a decrease?
  Response %
Economic 18%
Family 8%
Refugees and protected persons 18%
Don’t know 56%

Future engagement

Respondents most frequently identified online surveys, in-person round tables, and consultations with expert advisory groups as the preferred methods of consultation.

Question: What is your preferred method(s) of consultation for immigration levels planning? Please check all that apply.
  Response % (per method)
Online survey 76%
Written submissions (without survey questions) 18%
In-person roundtables 60%
Webinars 24%
Consultations with expert advisory groups 54%
Web portal that is always open 23%
Other, please specify 6%

IRCC also solicited input from stakeholders on how consultations and engagement efforts could be improved. Two strategies that were noted repeatedly in the submitted responses were

  1. improve communication with the public, for example, better educate communities on the benefits of immigration and combat misinformation about immigration
  2. when consulting, include more data and research to better inform stakeholder responses, for example, provide data around the labour market needs across Canada, as well as research on immigrant outcomes

Conclusion

Overall, many stakeholders engaged in this survey expressed a desire for moderate levels of growth. Many respondents placed priority on economic immigration and using immigration to fill labour market gaps. Nonetheless, a levels reduction in the two other immigration streams (family and refugees and humanitarian) was undesirable to many stakeholders. The Department recognizes that survey respondents are largely comprised of organizations supportive of immigration. IRCC acknowledges this bias.

Annexes

Annex 1: Background information for immigration levels consultations

Purpose

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act requires the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to table a projection of permanent resident admissions (the levels plan) in Parliament every year. The immigration levels plan details how many immigrants Canada will welcome as permanent residents under the economic, family, and refugee and humanitarian programs.

We are interested in hearing your thoughts on the immigration levels plan and mix. Your views and advice will help to shape a collective national vision for planning immigration levels in the coming years.

Immigration levels

The 2019–2021 immigration levels plan renews the three-year time frame introduced in the 2018–2020 multi-year plan and proposes to increase the number of permanent residents Canada welcomes annually to 330,800 in 2019, 341,000 in 2020, and 350,000 in 2021. Each year there is an opportunity to adjust out-year targets (i.e. currently 2020 and 2021).

A number of considerations are taken into account when developing the immigration levels plan, including

The plan is designed to contribute to an immigration system that fosters economic growth; supports diversity; and helps build vibrant, dynamic, and inclusive communities, while maintaining border integrity to preserve the safety and security of Canadians.

Furthermore, the new plan outlines a steady increase in admissions that trends towards nearly 1 percent of Canada’s population by 2021.

Closely linked with the question of how many people to welcome is the question of the appropriate mix (or distribution) of permanent residents across the main immigration classes. In 2021, the economic class will account for nearly 60 percent of total admissions. The family class will represent 26 percent, and the refugee and humanitarian classes will account for 16 percent. Please see below for the full list of categories and programs (Annex A).

Annex A

Immigration classes and corresponding categories

Economic

Family

Refugees and protected persons

Humanitarian and other

Annex 2: Stakeholder survey

Basic information

  1. Please provide your name and your organization's name:
    Your name (optional):

    Organization:

  2. What is the primary focus of your organization?
    • Academia, research foundation, or think tank
    • Employer or business
    • Settlement and resettlement organization
    • Industry or sector council
    • Indigenous, First Nations, or Inuit organization
    • Municipality or regional administration
    • Francophone or official language minority community
    • Crown corporation
    • Government (federal, provincial, or territorial)
    • Other, please specify:
  3. In which province or territory do you operate? Please select all that apply.
    • National organization
    • British Columbia
    • Alberta
    • Saskatchewan
    • Manitoba
    • Ontario
    • Quebec
    • New Brunswick
    • Nova Scotia
    • Prince Edward Island
    • Newfoundland and Labrador
    • Yukon Territory
    • Northwest Territories
    • Nunavut

Levels and mix

  1. What would you say is the most important reason for Canada to have a robust immigration program?
    • Filling labour market gaps and bringing new skills
    • Reuniting families
    • Supporting humanitarian commitments
    • Increase Canada’s population
    • Support community development
    • Contribute to Canada’s diversity
    • Other, please specify:
  2. In 2017, the Government of Canada announced its first multi-year immigration levels plan in over a decade, for 2018-2020. In 2018 and building on this first multi-year plan, the Government announced a new multi-year plan for 2019-2021.

    Do you support continuing with a multi-year approach, or do you think the Government should return to year-by-year planning?

    • Multi-year immigration levels plan
    • Year-by-year immigration levels plan
    • No preference
  3. Which of the following approaches to multi-year levels planning do you prefer?
    • A rolling approach, where every year a new, third year is added to the previous year’s plan
    • A fixed approach, where levels plans are prepared every three years
    • No preference
  4. The current plan sets a notional target for 2020 to welcome 341,000 newcomers (or approximately 0.92% of Canada’s population).

    In your opinion, do you feel that there are too many, too few or about the right number of immigrants coming to Canada?

    • Too many
    • Too few
    • About right
    • Don't know
  5. The current plan sets targets for each immigration class for 2020 per the following table.

    For each of the following immigration classes, do you feel that there are too many, too few or about the right number of immigrants coming to Canada?

    For easy reference, see the full 2019-2021 immigration levels plan.

    Immigration level 2020 target Too many About right Too few Don’t know
    Economic (workers, or business immigrants) 195,800
    Family (spouses, partners, children, or parents of people already in Canada) 91,000
    Refugees, protected persons, and humanitarian (resettled refugees, or asylum seekers) 54,200
  6. Beyond 2021, would you like to see immigration levels continue to increase each year, stabilize at 350,000 immigrants per year, or begin to decrease?
    • Increase
    • Stabilize at 350,000 immigrants per year
    • Decrease
    • Don't know
  7. If immigration levels were to increase, in which immigration class would you prioritize growth?
    • Economic
    • Family
    • Refugees and Protected Persons
    • Don't know
  8. Is there a particular immigration category or program in which you would most like to see an increase? For more information on immigration categories and programs see the background document.
    • Yes
    • No
    • Don't know
  9. If immigration levels were to decrease, in which immigration class would you prefer a decrease?
    • Economic
    • Family
    • Refugees and Protected Persons
    • Don't know
  10. Is there a particular immigration category or program in which you would most like to see a decrease? For more information on immigration categories and programs, see the background document.
    • Yes
    • No
    • Don't know

Future engagement

  1. What is your preferred method(s) of consultation for immigration levels planning? Please check all that apply.
    • Online survey
    • Written submissions (without survey questions)
    • Telephone surveys
    • In-person roundtables
    • Webinars
    • Consultations with expert advisory groups
    • Web portal that is always open
    • Other, please specify:
  2. Do you have any recommendations on how to improve engagement on immigration levels planning?
    • Yes
    • No
    • Don't know
  3. Finally, is there any other feedback you would like to provide?
    • Yes
    • No
    • Don't know

Annex 3: List of participating stakeholders

Organization name Footnote 6

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