As a relatively young nation (when compared to countries in Europe, Asia and other regions), Canada is very much a country built with the help of immigration. Canada is also a country that continues to need newcomers in order to grow, thrive and remain a nation of inclusion – as many Canadians see their home and native land.
In the Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration for 2018, The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, M.P. and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship made note of the need to continue to encourage those from other countries to come to Canada in order to build the labour force as Canada’s aging population and declining birth rate change the workforce landscape.
“Thanks in great part to the newcomers we have welcomed throughout our history, Canada has developed into the strong and vibrant country we all enjoy. Immigrants and their descendants have made immeasurable contributions to Canada, and our future success depends on continuing to ensure they are welcomed and well-integrated,” said the Honourable Ahmed Hussen in the report.
Canada’s Immigration by the Numbers
There are plans in place to see more immigrants join the nation in the coming years with a high of 370,000 possible in 2021 as noted in Canada’s Immigration Plan for 2019-2021 within the annual report. Canada’s Immigration Plan presents a high target and a low target for each year with an aim for the target number of immigrants to rise overall per year. See the chart outlining the 2019 – 2021 Immigration Levels Plan.
While hundreds of thousands of immigrants sounds like a lot of people (which it is), 370,000 still less than 1% of Canada’s overall population. As a country, this volume of immigrants who will likely become permanent residents who plan to later apply for Canadian citizenship, has been managed before – and at times when the nation’s population was much lower. The 1911 Canadian Census set the population of the day at just more than 7.2 million people which led to an estimate of just more than 8 million in 1916. The climb in population over this five-year period can be attributed, in part, to two things – first, the areas included in the census for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were expanded and second, immigration hit its all-time highest levels (which are yet to be surpassed) in 1910, 1911, 1912 and 1913 (between 300,000 and 400,000 immigrants). There were also single year peaks in 1907 and in the 1950s which were close to (or may have exceeded) the highest levels of the 21st century.
Why Immigration is Important for Canada
Canada’s immigration program is important for the future of the country. Not only does it allow for more skilled and qualified workers to assist with the employment needs of businesses and thereby support the economic growth of the country, immigration in Canada also reunites families and supports refugees in establishing a new life.
Growing the country’s population through immigration is an important tactic and must be monitored carefully. The federal government’s immigration plan that spans 2019 to 2021 allows the government to assess and monitor immigration and make adjustments to target numbers as needed. By having a multi-year plan, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC – formerly known as Citizenship and Immigration Canada or CIC) can work with federal, provincial, territorial and other partners to plan for those people projected to immigrate to Canada.
It is expected that the Economic Class will continue to make up the lion’s share of immigration with Canada visa applications (different from a Canada visitor visa) with caregivers, professionals and skilled labourers being in demand in the country. The Family Class is also expected to stay as the second largest immigration category throughout the three years of the current plan.
The Economic Class, and the workers it will bring to Canada, are vital as the large Canadian Baby Boomer population is entering the retirement phase of life. According to Canada’s Department of Finance, in less than 20 years, the number of working-age Canadians (aged 15 to 64) for every senior (aged 65 and over) is expected to fall from close to 5 to 2.5. It’s one of the largest projected decreases among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries like Australia, Germany, Mexico, Japan and the United States.
The Success and Importance of the Express Entry Program
One of the most important tools to help potential immigrants get a Canada visa and take advantage of one of the quickest ways to immigrate to Canada is through the Express Entry Program. Express Entry is system Canada uses to manage the country’s needs for skilled workers. It’s a points-based system where applicants receive point values based on their language skills, chosen labour category and other criteria. These specifics are entered into the Comprehensive Ranking System and applicants go into the Express Entry Pool.
Because it is a points ranking system, only the highest ranked candidates will be invited to apply for permanent residency when one of the selection processes occurs several times a year. For example, in 2017, 65,417 people were welcomed to Canada as permanent residents through the Express Entry system applications through the Economic Class immigration stream (almost 23% of all immigrants in 2017 – an increase of 32,003 from the previous year). Additionally, 13, 531 of the 49,724 Provincial Nominee Program immigrants were welcomed into Canada through Express Entry applications. This was an increase of 73% over 2016.
Canada’s aging population and decreasing birth rate are creating a need to welcome even more skilled immigrants from other countries into the workforce and the nation. With a diverse range of roles needed to continue to drive the economy of Canada forward, immigrants may be able to find their next job in a new country they can call home.