Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, has announced a strategic plan to reduce the proportion of temporary residents in the country from 6.2% to 5% over the next few years. This decision comes in response to concerns over Canada’s ability to provide housing and essential services, such as primary health care, to the rapidly growing population driven by temporary residents.

Setting Targets for Temporary Residents

Starting this fall, Canada will publish targets for the number of temporary residents it aims to welcome. The country currently hosts almost 2.5 million temporary residents, including asylum seekers, refugees, international students, and people on work permits.

Improving Planning and Providing Pathways to Permanent Residency

Minister Miller emphasized the need for better planning and announced plans to increase the number of draws to provide temporary residents with a route to permanent residency. He also highlighted the importance of discussions with provinces to address the availability of accommodation for workers. Needless to say, experts have voiced these concerns to the government for years, and it now seems that shifting political winds are motivating the government to react.

Reducing the Proportion of Temporary Foreign Workers

Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault announced plans to reduce the proportion of temporary foreign workers that businesses can hire from 30% to 20%, except in certain sectors such as agriculture. He urged employers to make greater efforts to hire from the existing pool of talent in the country, including Canadians and refugees, before applying to hire a foreign worker. Forcing Canadian employers to consider asylum seekers for skilled job positions will prove challenging. Although it’s an altruistic thought, barriers such as limited English proficiency can stop employers from hiring them. I expect Canadian businesses will push back against the new requirement to consider refugee claimants for advertised LMIA job positions.

Balancing Economic Growth with Sustainable Immigration

Canada’s population has been growing more quickly than other G7 countries, with migration accounting for most of the increase. While high immigration has been touted as an economic stimulant to counter an aging society and fill jobs, the government has finally recognized the need to balance this with the availability of services and housing. Minister Miller will announce further details in the fall.

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