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How Canada And Australia Are Pursuing Different Immigration Plans In Recent Years

Immigration is critical to the economic growth of both Canada and Australia. In recent years, both countries have become increasingly dependent on new immigrants and temporary residents to support their population, labor force, and economic growth.

For example, some twenty-two (22) per cent of Canada’s 38 million people are immigrants while thirty (30) per cent of Australia’s 25.5 million people are immigrant.

This shows us that the eight (8) million new immigrants in each country have an even larger—and more positive—impact on job creation and the economy.

Nevertheless, Canada and Australia have followed completely different immigration plans in recent years—a trend which has continued during COVID-19 crisis.

Immigration Plans Going In Opposite Directions

Canada has been gradually increasing its immigration levels since the late 1980s, and in the past few years, has been raising them more rigorously to support its economy. Australia also began expanding its immigration levels in the late 1990s but it has shifted course in recent years.

Just days before it was hit hard by the COVID-19, Canada announced it would be welcoming over 340,000 newcomers in 2020 and even higher levels in 2021 and 2022. Canada was previously averaging around 260,000 immigrants arrivals per year until 2016 when it decided it would be targeting at least 300,000 annual arrivals.

Canada is targeting fifty-eight (58) per cent of its immigrants to arrive under the economic class, twenty-seven (27) per cent under the family class, and fifteen (15) per cent for refugee and other humanitarian grounds.

Meanwhile, Australia announced last year that it was cutting down its annual immigration target by 30,000 to 160,000 permanent residence annually until 2023 (0.6 per cent of its population). Prior to the announced reduction, Australia had maintained its target at around 190,000 immigrants for eight straight years.

Under Australia’s current plan, Seventy (70) per cent of immigrants will arrive under the economic class and thirty (30) per cent under the family class.

Canada Inviting Even More Permanent Residents During COVID-19 Pandemic

The pandemic has understandably affected both country’s immigration plans, but, Canada is still trying to come as close as possible to attaining the economic class targets outlined in its immigration levels plan.

In April, Canada rolled out 11,700 invitations to apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence under its federal Express Entry system, compared with 7,800 the previous month, and 8,000 in February.

In addition, Canada’s provinces continue to provide immigration pathways for aspiring candidates during this period.

On the other hand, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a massive decline in Australia’s economic class invitations.

Last month, Australia rolled out only a 100 invitations to apply under its SkillSelect expression of interest system, compared with 2,050 in March, and 1,500 in February.

Why Both Countries Need New Immigrants

Both Canada and Australia welcome permanent residence due to their ageing populations and low birth rates. The median age in Canada is fourty-One (41) while it is Thirty-eight (38) in Australia.

Canada’s birth rate is 1.5 while Australia’s birth rate is 1.7. In both cases, the birth rate is lower than what is required to simply replace the population (2.1 babies per woman).

In 2018-19, Canada’s population increased by 1.4 per cent (531,000 people), with eighty-two (82) per cent of the population growth due to immigrants arrivals, and eighteen (18) per cent from natural increase (births minus deaths).

In 2018-19, Australia’s population increased by 1.5 per cent (371,000 people), with 62.5 per cent of the population growth coming through new immigrants, and 37.5 per cent from natural increase.

Immigration has proven crucial to both country’s abilities to support labour force growth, which is among the two major ways to grow the economy. The other way is to use your workforce more productively.

Lastly, immigrants help to alleviate the financial pressures both countries face due to their ageing populations since the economic activity generated by permanent and temporary residents helps to support the government revenues that are necessary to fund critical social services such as health care, which is only becoming more costly to deliver due to rapid population ageing.