Canada’s ambition to stabilize its immigration levels at 500,000 annually in 2026 has been made public. After a series of upward revisions in recent years, the federal government declared its commitment to maintaining the goal of welcoming 500,000 new permanent residents in 2026.
The Minister of Immigration, Marc Miller, clarified that this target is intended to bolster the labor force while alleviating the strains on housing and healthcare. Miller underscored the necessity of investigating the microeconomic consequences of immigration, a concern echoed by Canadians and economists alike.
Over the years, the government has incrementally raised immigration targets to bolster the workforce and address the challenges posed by an aging population. Just last year, a plan was unveiled to grant permanent residency to 465,000 individuals in 2023, with this figure slated to escalate to 500,000 by 2025. To put this into perspective, the immigration target for 2015 was under 300,000.
Miller further emphasized that the government is presently plateauing its planned immigration intake, intending to explore potential adjustments to Canada’s immigration programs. He expressed the need to scrutinize the figures to ensure they align with the nation’s evolving needs.
“We have a multitude of intricate calculations to perform and measures to fine-tune. A blanket approach may be politically expedient, but we must focus on the precision of surgical adjustments,” Miller elaborated.
Canada’s population surged by a remarkable one million people in 2022, surpassing the 40 million milestone. This population growth coincides with a housing shortage crisis. A report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, published in September, stipulated the necessity to construct nearly 5.8 million new housing units by the end of the decade to rectify the housing deficit.
Miller acknowledged that the housing shortage influenced the decision to stabilize immigration targets, albeit not as the primary factor. He conveyed the complexity of the challenges confronting the nation, which extend beyond housing concerns.
Many experts contend that the root causes of the housing shortage do not stem from immigration but rather from bureaucratic hurdles and opposition to development initiatives at the local level, leading to substantial delays in housing projects. Consequently, the federal government is actively encouraging municipalities to revise their zoning bylaws through its housing accelerator program.
Miller maintained that a steady stream of immigrants is vital to supplying the workforce required for housing construction. Earlier this year, the government implemented modifications to the express entry system, prioritizing tradespeople for permanent residency, which has attracted approximately 1,500 tradespeople from abroad.
Nonetheless, Phil Triadafilopoulos, a political science professor specializing in immigration at the University of Toronto, posited that high immigration levels would still exert pressure on the housing market. He expressed skepticism about pausing at historically high immigration levels having a significant impact on housing affordability, predicting that these pressures will persist.
The government’s commitment to maintaining economic immigrants at 60 percent of the total immigration remains steadfast in the new plan. Goldy Hyder, President and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, advocated increasing this portion to 65 percent. He warned that the ongoing high demand for skilled professionals could have substantial and enduring consequences on Canadian technological innovation, labor productivity, and capital investment.
Jenny Kwan, the NDP’s immigration critic, voiced concerns about the lack of transparency in the Liberal government’s plan. She lamented the absence of concrete actions accompanying their immigration level objectives, characterizing it as more rhetoric than practical steps to ensure successful resettlement for newcomers in Canada.