Canada is aiming for 401,000 new immigrants in 2021 despite the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to achieve this goal, Canada has implemented new programs by focusing on processes that grant residency status to people already in the country and in jobs that might not have previously qualified.
Before the pandemic, Canada’s immigration population was growing at an unprecedented rate, accepting 70,000 more immigrants in 2019 than it did previously in 2015. However, with the rise of Covid-19, the number of permanent residents has plunged by almost half of its 2020 goal to just 184,595, far short of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s target of 341,000.
After suffering a financial detriment due to the pandemic, immigration is a primary strategy the government is using to accelerate economic recovery. Andrew Agopsowicz, a senior economist at the Royal Bank of Canada, argues that immigration has become the primary, if not the only, source of labor force growth in the country as the baby boomers retire. In order to make up for the shortfall in 2020, the Canadian government has announced higher targets with a goal of 401,000 permanent residents in 2021, up from a previous goal of 351,000.
But how can Canada welcome new immigrants with the pandemic tightening border restrictions? In order to adapt to these changes, Canada has decided to expedite immigration times for those who already have experience in the country. The government has already invited more than 27,000 people to apply for permanent residency under one stream of its “express entry” programs for skilled economic immigrants with recent work experience in Canada. The program uses a points system to score applicants based on criteria such as age, education and work experience. In recent years, the minimum score needed to qualify for an invitation was over 400 points, but this year a whopping 75 points was all that was needed to qualify.
In May, the Canadian government opened a new program: a temporary pathway to permanent residency for 90,000 people already in Canada with temporary status. This included 40,000 recent international student graduates, 20,000 health-care workers and 30,000 people in other essential jobs like cashiers, janitors and butchers.
As a result of these new measures Canada has admitted 184, 215 new permanent residents between January and July, proving that Canada is well on its path to meeting its target.