Immigration is a key part of Canada’s culture and is tied to its sense of nationhood. Immigrants make up about one fifth of Canada’s population and contribute greatly to its economic growth. Canada has been one of the leading countries for immigrants for many years and was voted the number one country for immigrants in a Gallup World Poll in September 2020. The immigration and settlement sectors are, therefore, key cornerstones of Canada’s history and heritage. The COVID 19 pandemic, however, has left its mark on all business industries, including the immigration and settlement sectors. Fortunately, despite the travel restrictions due to the pandemic, immigration in Canada is still ongoing and is projected to grow further in 2021. This outlook examines the status of immigration and settlement in Canada and projections for 2021 as it relates to immigration levels in Canada and tackling settlement issues encountered in 2020.
Immigration and Settlement in Canada and its Contributions
The immigration story of Canada has been one of inspiration and advancement. The vision of migrating to Canada is a source of hope for many who wish to relocate. This hope could be for better economic opportunities, education, protection as a resettled refugee or newcomers simply seeking a new place to call home. It is therefore not surprising that the immigration level in Canada reflects continued growth.
The 2020 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, provided yearly by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) presents key highlights and information on immigration to Canada for the year 2019-2020. According to the Report, in 2019, there were over 341,000 admitted as permanent residents to Canada. This is an increase from the then standard 200,000+ in 2001 and the early 2000s. The Report also shows that over 402,000 study permits, and 404,000 temporary work permits were issued. According to the Statista findings, the immigration level in 2020 is also a similar number with almost 300,000 people immigrating to Canada, as of October 2020, even under pandemic conditions.
Much emphasis is placed on immigration’s contribution to Canada’s growth in the 2020 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration. Immigrants contribute to an educated Canada and its renown multiculturalism. Additionally, immigrants are also politically engaged and contribute to Canada’s demography, economy, and future. Therefore, the settlement service sector in Canada is vital because it facilitates the successful integration of immigrants and refugees into the Canadian society. Consequently, the IRCC have included plans in their annual report to create additional settlement programs to enhance the standard of life for immigrants in Canada. There are also plans to increase the number of immigrants admitted into Canada in the upcoming years. In the 2020 Annual Report, a multi-year (3 years) Immigration Level Plan from 2021 to 2023 was presented. The admission target for 2021 is 401,000 while the planned number for 2022 and 2023 is even higher, with targets of 411,000 and 421,000, respectively. The table below shows the immigration level plans provided in the 2020 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration.
Table Showing the Immigration Level Plan for 2021-2023 as reflected in the 2020 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration
Immigration and Settlement in Francophone Canada
Francophone immigration contributes significantly to Canada’s cultural and linguistic diversity as well as its socio-economic development. An increase in Francophone immigration outside of Quebec is therefore one of the focus points for the government and the IRCC in 2021 and beyond. In 2019, there were about 8,500 French-speaking permanent residents admitted in Canada, outside Quebec. The Francophone Immigration Strategy as identified in the report, targets 4.4% of French-speaking immigrants of all categories, outside of Quebec by 2023.
Additions to Settlement Options in the Francophone Community
The IRCC plans to implement additional settlement options to contribute to a more comfortable transition and development for Francophone immigrants outside of Quebec. One of these plans was implemented in 2019, when a more inclusive definition was used to count French-speaking immigrants and were admitted under all key immigration categories. See the table below from the 2020 Annual Report for the immigration categories. Additionally, in 2020 there was an increase in the French speaking newcomers who received settlement services offered by a Francophone service provider outside of Quebec. It rose from 44% in 2018-2019, to 51% in 2019-2020. Additional initiatives will also be funded by the government for the Francophone communities to continue this increase.
Table Showing Immigration Categories for Francophone Immigrants Outside of Quebec as reflected in the 2020 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration
Moving Forward – Considering Gender and Diversity in Immigration
The immigration and settlement sectors in Canada continue to experience growth, but this is only possible with proper planning and effort. The issue of gender and diversity is a constant concern, so too is the systemic racism that People of Color (POC) often encounter. Plans have therefore been made for pilot programs and the continuation of existing programs that aim to address some of the challenges faced by minority and vulnerable groups.
The IRCC has utilized Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+), an intersectional analytical process that examines how sex and gender intersect with other identity factors, to address challenges experienced by diverse population groups. A threefold approach is being used by the IRCC to address these challenges faced by members of diverse population groups. This entails inclusion, building awareness and addressing vulnerability. Each of these categories include programs and policies geared towards serving the needs of the LGBTQ community, POC, refugees and individuals who experience increased vulnerabilities.
The year 2020 has been one of many challenges, sadness, and lost opportunities. The pandemic affected travel across countries, an important aspect of the immigration process. However, even with those challenges, the status of the immigration and settlement sector is one of success and growth. Immigration continues to change peoples’ lives in positive ways and contributes to Canada’s economy. The IRCC continues to focus on the development of the sector and ways to improve the lives of the new immigrants admitted. It is therefore necessary for federal, provincial, and local governmental bodies as well as community-based agencies to help in achieving these goals for immigrants in 2021. Organizations from these public and private sectors that were put in place to assist newcomers with their transition into the Canadian system should continue to rise to the occasion. At Skills for Change, we are rising to the occasion by renewing our vow to help immigrants succeed. We continue our mission to provide learning and training opportunities to immigrants and refugees that gives them the opportunity to fully participate in the workplace and the wider community.