Discussion guide on immigration


Since the first newcomers arrived on Canadian soil, a sense of possibility, innovation and discovery has been a defining part of our national identity.

Although times and conditions may have changed, 21st-century newcomers to Canada have retained that innovative spirit, enriching the communities where they settle and helping to ensure the Canada of tomorrow remains as dynamic as the country of yesterday.

Canada’s strength lies in its diversity. Indeed, the story of Canadian immigration is inseparable from the story of Canada itself.

The Government of Canada is asking Canadians from coast to coast to coast to help write the next chapter of that story. We are committed to an immigration system that supports diversity and helps to grow the economy, as it strengthens the fabric of our society.

Through wide-ranging consultations, we want to hear what immigration means to you and how we can continue to grow our nation through the immigration system.

The findings of these consultations will help us as we determine the way forward on immigration to Canada.

Through this process, we will be looking to the future and taking inspiration from the spirit of possibility that has defined our history.

It is an ambitious undertaking. We are, in effect, laying part of the Canadian foundation for the next 150 years.


The Levels Plan

Every fall, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada tables the Annual Report on Immigration, which includes a “levels plan” for the following year. The levels plan informs Canadians how many immigrants Canada will welcome under the four main permanent resident classes (Family; Economic; Refugee; and Other, which includes persons admitted on humanitarian or public policy grounds).

In 2016 Canada is planning to welcome between 280,000 and 305,000 (target 300,000) new permanent residents. 

Permanent resident admissions

An average of 255,000 permanent residents per year have been admitted over the last 10 years.

Permanent residents as a percentage of Canada’s population

In the last six years, Canada has welcomed permanent residents equal to roughly 0.8% of Canada’s population each year - one of the highest such proportions in the world.  Note that there is no current policy directing that immigration levels be planned in relation to the population.  

Strengthening our Canadian fabric

Canada is the product of its people. Our government, laws, social beliefs and traditions all come from the people who live here.

Newcomers have a strong desire to be part of their community, to be accepted and to prove they can be successful. All of us play a role in helping newcomers integrate and be accepted into our communities.

When we welcome and integrate newcomers, we strengthen Canadian society. Newcomers are active members in communities large and small. They bring new energy to daily life and help make Canada successful by growing our diverse society, culture and economy.

Immigration also brings families together. As more Canadians travel the world, some build their families abroad. The reunification of these families in Canada is a priority for the Government of Canada.


  1. How many newcomers should we welcome to Canada in 2017 and beyond?
  2. How can we best support newcomers to ensure they become successful members of our communities?
  3. Do we have the balance right among the immigration programs or streams? If not, what priorities should form the foundation of Canada's immigration planning?

Unlocking Canada’s diverse needs

Every newcomer helps build our country. The contributions that all immigrants bring to Canada result in jobs, innovation and economic growth.

Immigrants bring new perspectives as they experience Canada through their own cultures.

That fresh perspective can lead to inspiration and discovery, revitalising Canadian traditions with a new energy and innovation.

Across Canada, immigrants build many new successful businesses and organizations. With an aging population and communities across Canada becoming short on a young labour force, immigration is seen as a possible solution.


  1. How can immigration play a role in supporting economic growth and innovation in Canada? 
  2. Should there be more programs for businesses to permanently hire foreign workers if they can't find Canadians to fill the job?
  3. What is the right balance between attracting global talent for high-growth sectors, on the one hand, and ensuring affordable labour for businesses that have historically seen lower growth, on the other?
  4. How can immigration fill in the gaps in our demographics and economy?
  5. What Canadian values and traditions are important to share with newcomers to help them integrate into Canadian society?

Modernizing our immigration system

The success of Canadian immigration depends partly on the systems we use to process applications and the service we provide to clients. In a 21st-century world, we need modern systems to stay competitive internationally.

Serving clients well with fast and efficient processing is important as we plan for the future. This means making sure applicants can easily learn the status of their application and have confidence that they will get a fast and fair decision.

We have made good progress on this, but we know we can do better to meet the changing needs of our clients.


  1. Currently, immigration levels are planned yearly.  Do you agree with the thinking that planning should be multi-year?
  2. What modernization techniques should Canada invest in for processing of applications?
  3. What should Canada do to ensure its immigration system is modern and efficient?
  4. Is there any rationale for providing options to those willing to pay higher fees for an expedited process?

Leadership in global migration and immigration

The reasons why people leave their homes and move to a new country are always changing. Poverty, instability and war, among other things, mean that more people are leaving their homes to build new lives in other countries.

Canada has always been proud to provide a new home to those in need.

We have a wide range of programs in place to help newcomers. Our settlement program is recognized around the world.

Canada is also a destination of choice for students and workers with skills and experience from around the world.

Other countries often look to Canada’s immigration practices as a model for their own. The international profile of our immigration system is one of the reasons for this.


  1. Is it important for Canada to continue to show leadership in global migration? If so, how can we best do that?
  2. How can Canada attract the best global talent and international students?
  3. In what ways can Canada be a model to the world on refugees, migration and immigration?


Reports and statistics

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