Biggest increase falls into the skilled worker-business category
Canada released its immigration numbers for 2018 Wednesday and for the first time set a three-year plan rather than a one-year projection.
The number of new Canadians to be welcomed into the country over the three years totals around 1 million.
The number increases to 310,000 in 2018, 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced at a press conference in Toronto.
In 2017, the Liberal government accepted 300,000 immigrants.
The refugee figure under the new plan is 43,000 in the first year, to 45,650 and then 56,500 in 2020, but numbers from countries such as Syria were not addressed at the press conference.
About 48,000 Syrian refugees have been accepted over the last two years, but only 7,500 in 2017 to date.
Immigrants enter Canada under three main classifications: economic (skilled workers and business people), family (those closely related to Canadian residents) and refugees (those escaping persecution).
The economic category will see the largest increase in immigrants, up roughly 60 percent, with the balance in the family sponsorship or refugee categories, but all will increase over the three years.
“Everyone has been of the opinion we need more workers, we need more skilled workers, we need more people to power our economy, address our real skills shortages, address our real labor market shortages and also address the regional nature of some of these requirements,” Hussen said. “So we’ve listened.”
The 2018 figure represents less than one percent of the Canadian population, but it is the largest since 1913, when just over 400,000 immigrants arrived.
But the Conservative opposition party was critical of the new three-year plan, saying the government is ill-prepared to settle new arrivals, particularly with the thousands of asylum seekers who have flooded into Canada illegally from the United States. The total asylum claims processed by Canada to the end of September was 35,755, according to the Government of Canada’s website.
Those refugees do not count in the immigration plan figures, but the influx has created a lengthy delay in wait times for all immigrants at the Immigration and Refugee Board.
“(The prime minister) has no plan to support the integration of tens of thousands of refugees,” Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel said. “He’s also created massive wait times for everyone else who’s trying to enter Canada by playing by the rules.”
Janet Dench, head of the Canadian Council for Refugees, said earlier that Canada could accept many more than the 7,500 Syrian refugees in 2017 and called for a “sustained commitment” to the refugee crisis.