The federal government of Canada has reaffirmed its commitment to immigration as key to economic growth during the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
In the Throne Speech that openned a new parliament session on September 23, Governor General Julie Payette said immigration helps ‘keep Canada competitive on the global stage’.
The Throne Speech was the clearest indication yet that Canada plans to increase immigration levels once coronavirus-related travel restrictions are lifted.
All eyes now are on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s immigration mandate letter to Minister Marco Mendicino, outlining the Liberal action plan for the next coming weeks.
Throne Speech: Immigration key to Canada’s COVID-19 economic recovery
Mendicino must also deliver a new immigration levels plan to parliament, set to occur around October ending or early November.
“Immigration remains a driver of Canada’s economic growth,” said the Governor General on Wednesday.
She further added that: “As part of both the short and long-term economic recovery plan for growth, the federal government will leverage the advantage we have on immigration to keep Canada competitive on the global arena.”
The speech came at a period when Canadians are nervously watching case numbers amidst the start of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Canada’s plan to welcome 342,000 newcomers in 2020 has been affected by the crisis, reducing the number of new permanent residents to 117,000 as of the end of July, compared to the 197,000 welcomed same period last year.
With COVID-19 case numbers rising in Canada again, it is unlikely international travel restrictions will be lifted any time soon.
Which means immigration levels may be significantly below the plan set out by Mendicino in early March, few days before the full-scale coronavirus crisis took hold in Canada.
But, where countries like the United States have used the pandemic as a reason to cut down on immigration, Canada has remained as open as possible.
Julie Payette described the current global climate as ‘an opportunity’.
“With other countries turning down global talents that could help their economy grow, Canada has an opportunity as we recover to become the one of the world’s top destination for talents, capital, and jobs,” she told parliament.
“When people choose Canada, help build Canada, and make sacrifices in support of Canada, we should make it easier for them to formally become Canadian.”
Much of the central content of Trudeau’s last immigration mandate letter to Mendicino has been delayed by the COVID-19 hit.
How far they have been pushed down the agenda will becoming clear as IRCC sets out its immigration plan in the next coming months.