Coronavirus pandemic is showing us the need for continued strong immigration to Canada and the important contribution of immigrant labour to the Canadian economy, federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino declared on Friday.
“It is crucial that we continue to migrate today in a way that is safe and orderly and also to drive that future that we all believe will be reinforced by immigration as it has been in the past.” Immigration will be key, Marco Mendicino believes, an “enduring value” for Canadians.
Marco Mendicino made the statements in response to recent questions being posted by critics and analysts about Canada’s high immigration level plans and its open immigration policies at a time when the current economic crisis threatens to emerge long after the health crisis has passed.
For many years, the promotion of accessibility and inclusion had been Canada’s cornerstone, but COVID-19 has put a limit on this approach based on openness. Canada’s actions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, high unemployment rates and the reluctance of some temporary workers and international students to travel in an era of social distancing and uncertainties are the main reasons.
Immigration Minister remains confident and hopeful, but, that Canada’s overall approach to welcoming and helping new immigrants will not change.
“I have faith that Canadian people believe in immigration,” he told journalist Susan Delacourt in a recent interview. “That’s because they accept it. It’s part of who we are. At its base, immigration is about people coming together to build a stronger country and economy, which is what we have seen throughout our history, throughout this COVID-19 pandemic and, I’m confident, what we will see in the future.”
Many sectors of the Canadian economy depend heavily on immigrant labors, and during the coronavirus pandemic, immigrants are being asked to strengthen and sustain many essential services. In Canada, front-line workers, hospitals, food supply chains, and long-term care facility, among others, all rely on the support of foreign workers.
Over the years, growing immigration levels have been at the core of Canada’s policies because they help sustain its labor force, support economic growth and stimulate innovation.
Otawa’s 2020-2022 Immigration Levels Plan had set targets of 341,000 new immigrants in 2020, 351,000 in 2021 and total immigration could rise to as many as 390,000 newcomers by the year 2022. This represents an immigration level of approximately one per cent of Canada’s population, which the Conference Board of Canada has declared must be reached by 2030 to ensure moderate population and economic growth.
The Minister does not rule out the possibility that these numbers may be modified in November when the government is expected to announce new immigration level plans.
Marco Mendicino also told the Canadian Press that the government has been continually assessing the situation and looking at ways to improve the application process for Canadian permanent residents and temporary foreign workers.
For example, a temporary policy unveiled last Tuesday by Ottawa will allow temporary foreign workers to work for a Canadian employer other than the one on their permit while waiting for a new permit to be issued. The immigration agency promises to process applicants’ applications within Ten (10) days of their submission instead of the usual Ten (10) weeks.
There was also concern that foreign students, whose contribution to Canada’s economy is estimated at about $21.6 billion, would be unable to enroll and attend post secondary institutions this fall while borders remain closed.
The federal government has sought to resolve this issue and has recently sent out new measures and policies that will allow foreign students to count online classes or e-learning in Canada toward education programs and for immigration purposes.
One of the major program reforms announced this week will allow foreign students to enroll in online courses for the fall term while they are abroad and still be qualified for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after moving to Canada.