Canada welcomes the most immigrants in a single year in its history
Government reaches target of 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021
December 23, 2021—Ottawa—With the significant exception of Indigenous people, all Canadians originally come from somewhere else. The story of immigration fills many chapters in the history of Canada—including the most recent one. To support Canada’s post-pandemic recovery and chart a more prosperous future, the Government of Canada set a target of welcoming 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, as part of the 2021–2023 Immigration Levels Plan.
The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced that Canada has reached its target and welcomed more than 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021. Surpassing the previous record from 1913, this is the most newcomers in a year in Canadian history.
This historic achievement is particularly significant in the face of the pandemic’s many challenges. From closed borders to domestic lockdowns, global migration has been upended by COVID-19. But the employees of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) rose to the occasion and processed a record half a million applications in 2021. To achieve this, IRCC added resources, embraced new technology and brought more processes online. These changes are all permanent improvements to Canada’s immigration system.
As we continue to struggle with the pandemic, we made the most of the talent already within our borders. The majority of these new permanent residents were already in Canada on temporary status. Most notably, we launched new programs to engage essential workers, health care professionals, international graduates and French-speaking newcomers. Family reunification is another pillar of our system, and we reunited spouses and children while enabling more families to sponsor parents and grandparents. Finally, with many countries closing their doors to refugees, we continued to offer the world’s most vulnerable shelter in Canada.
Canada needs immigration to drive our economy, enrich our society and support our aging population. One in 3 Canadian businesses is owned by an immigrant, and 1 in 4 health care workers is a newcomer. Business, labour market experts and economists all agree that immigration creates jobs, spurs innovation and helps address labour shortages. New Canadians contribute to communities across our country every day, and we will continue welcoming more of them as we build the Canada of tomorrow.
“Last year, we set an ambitious goal. Today, we achieved it. This is a historic moment for our country, as we welcome the highest number of newcomers in one year in our history. I want to thank all the employees in my department, especially our Operations Sector, who made this possible. Canada is built on immigration, and we will continue to welcome the immigrants that Canada needs to succeed. I can’t wait to see the incredible contributions that our 401,000 new neighbours make in communities across the country.”
– The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
The number of permanent residents Canada welcomes each year is based on the annual Immigration Levels Plan, which was tabled in Parliament on October 30, 2020.
In 2019, Canada welcomed more than 341,000 permanent residents. Despite the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada also admitted over 184,500 new permanent residents over the course of 2020.
Immigration accounts for almost 100% of Canada’s labour force growth. Roughly 75% of Canada’s population growth comes from immigration, mostly in the economic category. By 2036, immigrants will represent up to 30% of Canada’s population, compared with 20.7% in 2011.
Immigration addresses labour shortages in key sectors such as health care. Immigrants make up 37% of pharmacists, 36% of physicians, 39% of dentists, 23% of registered nurses, and 35% of nurse aides and related occupations.
The Economic and Fiscal Update proposes new measures to support a robust and resilient recovery, including an $85 million investment to reduce backlogs in Canada’s immigration system, speed up the process of citizenship, reunite families, and welcome people who can help address Canada’s labour shortages.
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