By Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The federal government is planning a massive increase in the number of immigrants entering Canada, with a goal of seeing 500,000 people arrive each year by 2025.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser revealed the new targets on Tuesday, saying the move was necessary to ensure Canada’s economic prosperity as the country struggles with a labour shortage resulting in 1 million job vacancies.
“Our plan has a focus on economic growth,” Fraser said during an event in North York, Ont. “And by the third year of this plan, 60 per cent of new immigrants will be admitted under economic immigration categories.”
The plan envisions a flood of new arrivals that will see 465,000 people arrive from outside the country in 2023, rising to 500,000 in 2025, with a heavy emphasis on admitting people based on work skills or experience.
At the same time, Ottawa is planning a more moderate increase in the number of family members who will be admitted into the country, and an overall decrease in the number of refugees.
Fraser sought to defuse criticism of the latter by noting that Canada was a world leader in resettling refugees in recent years, including Syrians, Ukrainians and Afghans fleeing conflict in their home countries.
He also promised the government is prepared to handle what will be an unprecedented influx of applications from prospective immigrants wanting to come to Canada, with hundreds of new staff and other changes to speed the process.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has previously been criticized for a backlog of applications from immigrants and prospective permanent residents.
The new plan comes days after Statistics Canada reported 23 per cent of people in the country are landed immigrants or permanent residents, which is the highest-ever percentage and top among G7 nations.
By 2041, Statistics Canada projects as many as 34 per cent of people in Canada will be immigrants.