The Liberal government of Canada plans on welcoming up to 305,000 new permanent residents this year — the highest projected immigration level in decades, and around a seven percent increase on the 2015 plan.
The government provided details in its 2016 Immigration Levels Plan, which was published on Tuesday, March 8. The increase in immigration numbers will be primarily through family sponsorship and refugee settlement programs, though more than half of all newcomers will arrive through economic immigration programs. The target mark of 160,600 people in economic programs is in line with admissions through those programs over recent years, even if the target itself is slightly lower than last year.
The numbers of refugees to be accepted in 2016 will be around double the number that was targeted for 2015. Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC, formerly known as CIC), John McCallum, has stated that his department aims to speed up processing times for family class immigration, economic immigrants and refugee claimants by applying the lessons it learned from bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada over recent months.
Growing the country
The 2016 plan marks an increase of about 20,000 in the total number of new permanent residents to be admitted, relative to 2015. Indeed, the 2015 plan also saw an increase of 20,000 over the previous year. Consequently, the 2016 target is about 40,000 higher than that for 2014.
Minister McCallum said the plan is grounded in Canada’s tradition of being a welcoming and generous country. “We will be able to welcome more people to Canada,” he said at a news conference in Brampton, Ontario.
“It [the plan] outlines a significant shift in immigration policy towards reuniting more families, building our economy and upholding Canada’s humanitarian traditions to resettle refugees and offer protection to those in need.”
The plan calls for between 280,000 and 305,000 permanent residents to be allowed into Canada in 2016. Calling it the country’s highest targeted number of new immigrants in modern times, McCallum said the government’s goal is to “bring in immigrants who wish to build a better Canada.”
The plan is supposed to be tabled each November for the following year, but the one for 2016 was delayed by the general election and change of government around that time last year.
Canada, a safe haven
In the short time the Liberal government has been in office, its signature move on the immigration file has been with respect to the increased and expedited settlement of refugees, particularly those fleeing the war in Syria. Though the government recently met its target to welcome 25,000 such persons by the end of February, 2016, it plans on welcoming additional numbers of refugees over the course of the year.
Minister McCallum has urged Canadians to welcome the new refugees with “open arms” and help them find homes, jobs and adjust to their new lives in Canada. By and large, the Canadian public has received the refugees positively.
The refugee settlement program is divided into those who arrive with government assistance and those who are sponsored privately, as well as a smaller number who arrive via a program that blends the two. Further, protected persons already in Canada and their families abroad, as well as individuals applying for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, come under this broad category.
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