Sean Fraser prepared to increase Canada’s immigration levels even as 46,000 immigrants landed in October

Sean Fraser knows that he has a lot to do.

In his first major interviews as Canadian immigration minister, Fraser spoke with Shelly Hagan of Bloomberg and Nicholas Keung of the Toronto Star to discuss the opportunities and challenges of his new role.

Speaking with Bloomberg, the minister said he is prepared to increase Canada’s immigration levels if it is necessary to address labour shortages. Canada is experiencing significant job shortages right now, in large part because of fewer immigrants coming from overseas during the pandemic.

The country is currently working on its most ambitious Immigration Levels Plan ever. It aims to receive 401,000 immigrants in 2021 and 411,000 in 2022. Another 421,000 will be welcomed in 2023.

Fraser said he is “very much open to” even higher levels if there is an appetite from businesses and communities for more workers.

The Immigrations Levels Plan 2022-2024 will be announced by February 10, 2022, at the latest.

October saw 46,000 immigrants arrive in Canada, mostly from Canada.

The minister also said that Canada is well on its way to achieving its 401,000 newcomer target this year.

Bloomberg obtained data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. It showed that 46,315 permanent residents landed in October, more than the 45,000 who landed in September. These figures are monthly records for Canada in modern times (monthly information on immigration landings dates is only available from 1980).

A landing is the official conversion of an immigrant status to permanent resident status. The vast majority of people who have landed in the aftermath of the pandemic are already temporary residents of Canada. This helps to explain why Canada’s population and labour force growth remain weak. In fact, Statistics Canada data shows Canada’s population grew by just 0.5 per cent last year, the weakest growth since the First World War. Normal circumstances dictate that most permanent resident arrivals to Canada are from overseas.

Between January and October 2021, Canada has welcomed 313,838 immigrants. To reach its newcomer goal of 2021, Canada must land approximately 87,000 additional immigrants (an average of 43,000.50 per month) in the two remaining months of 2019.

Immigration system: Opportunities and challenges

Fraser spoke candidly in his interview with the Toronto Star on current obstacles, conceding “There are no shortage of challenges ahead of me.”

Discussing Canada’s backlog of some 1.8 million immigration applications, Fraser said “I don’t want to communicate to you today that in a short period of time, all of these problems will be fixed. They weren’t made overnight and they won’t be fixed overnight. I want to accelerate the work that’s going to help clear some of these backlogs. It’s going to make the process less painful for families that are trying to pursue a new life or reunite with their loved ones or find a job to contribute to our economy.”

He said that IRCC is working to digitize citizenship applications and address other issues that are slowing down the immigration process. He said that it is not logical to deny temporary entry to family members who are awaiting processing of a sponsorship request.

Minister also stated that he has focused most of his attention since October when he became minister on resettling Afghan refugees. Although the federal government has pledged to resettle 40,000 Afghans in the future, only 3,500 have been resettled so far. Fraser said “Canadians are right to be frustrated about what’s going on in Afghanistan. The reality on the ground right now is that we don’t have access the way we did in Syria, and that’s the equation that a lot of Canadians I think are trying to make.”

Fraser sees an enormous opportunity to improve the immigration system.

“Things are at such a strained point as a result of COVID-19 that I see an opportunity to make an extraordinary difference coming from this particular starting point.”

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Source: CIC News

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