Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino is speaking out against reducing the government’s immigration targets for years to come, according to two people familiar with the matter. This includes the arrival of 351,000 new permanent residents in 2021 – the most in a century. The government will update its three-year projections over the next month.
Since coming to power in 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has sought to speed up immigration, a policy that, before Covid-19 hit, had helped accelerate the rate of population growth in three decades. Sticking to this policy could be a challenge.
Current travel restrictions and border closures have undermined the flow of people to Canada. High unemployment that appears likely to persist and the fact that Trudeau’s minority government must rely on the support of opposition political parties to pass laws pose additional challenges.
In March, Mendicino unveiled a plan toincrease immigration over the next three years – targeting 341,000 permanent residents in 2020, 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022.
So far, the numbers for 2020 are not even close.
Fears of Covid
Between January and August, Canada admitted 128,430 permanent residents. If throughput returns to 2019 levels, that number will rise to 240,000, or about 70% of the target, according to Andrew Agopsowicz, an economist at the Royal Bank of Canada. But even that can be optimistic.
This “may be possible if people delay moving to Canada,” Agopsowicz said via email. “Of course, heightened fears of a Covid resurgence may have an impact on these plans.”
A similar trend was also evident in the area of study permits, as international students were largely unable to travel to Canada.
The decline in immigration hassignificant spillover effects on the housing market. For example, the vacancy rate for rental apartments in the Toronto area exceeded 2% for the first time in 10 years, according to third-quarter data from research firm Urbanation Inc. 9%, reported the company.
Mendicino’s office consulted with various business, labor and settlement organizations to assess the current demand for immigration. The minister is expected to announce the new targets by November 1, the deadline for the department to present its plans to Parliament.
(Updates with details on the condo vacancy rate in the penultimate paragraph.)