Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) unveiled the Immigration Levels Plan 2024-2026 on November 1st, setting forth the targets for the influx of new permanent residents into Canada over the next three years.
According to the latest immigration levels plan, Canada is targeting to invite 485,000 new permanent residents in 2024, with a subsequent target of 500,000 annually in both 2025 and 2026.
A recent report from the Environics Institute revealed a declining trend in support for heightened immigration levels among Canadians, with concerns revolving primarily around the affordability of housing.
In an official statement, the Minister highlighted the significance of factoring in housing, infrastructure planning, and sustainable population growth: “Through this plan, we are striking the appropriate balance to grow Canada’s economy, while maintaining our humanitarian tradition, supporting , and developing a more collaborative approach to levels planning with our partners. Canada will continue to welcome newcomers and ensure that they are supported in their new lives.”
Enhancing Canada’s Labor Force Through the Levels Plan
The recently tabled Immigration Levels Plan for 2024-2026 comes on the heels of IRCC’s release of the Strategic Immigration Program, outlining the department’s updated approach to immigration. The program emphasizes support for the growth of Canada’s labor force, with over 60% of newcomers in the upcoming years expected to arrive through economic class immigration pathways such as Express Entry managed programs, the Provincial Nominee Program, or other regional economic immigration programs.
In specific terms, the plan outlines Canada’s intention to welcome 281,135 economic immigrants in 2024 and 301,250 in both 2025 and 2026.
The new strategy also adopts a “whole of government” approach to immigration, involving extensive consultation with stakeholders, government departments, and provincial governments to assess skill requirements and determine the requisite number of newcomers to bridge labor market gaps. The approach also aims to ensure sufficient support for newcomers upon their arrival.
Furthermore, the Strategic Program highlights IRCC’s plans to collaborate with partners to streamline the recognition of foreign credentials, enabling more newcomers to effectively utilize their skills within the Canadian workforce. Additionally, IRCC intends to raise awareness about financial assistance programs, including loans, to aid newcomers with the costs associated with the credential recognition process.
Impact on Healthcare and Construction in Canada
IRCC’s announcement of the levels plan emphasized the role of immigration in addressing labor market gaps, thereby contributing to the fulfillment of Canada’s National Housing Strategy. With an investment of over $82 billion over the next decade, the Housing Strategy aims to bolster housing construction and subsequently reduce housing costs, necessitating an increase in skilled workers in the construction and trades sectors.
Concerns about the state of healthcare in Canada also surfaced, with data from Statistics Canada indicating a workforce of 136,000 individuals in healthcare and social assistance as of August 2023. The strains experienced by the healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for additional personnel, as many healthcare workers faced burnout and contemplated career transitions. Additionally, with an anticipated nine million Canadians expected to retire by 2030, the pressure on the healthcare system is projected to escalate.
While Census 2021 data indicated that more than 468,000 immigrants were employed in health-related occupations, the number remains insufficient to meet the existing job vacancies.
Express Entry Initiatives
In an effort to target specific attributes that align with IRCC’s mandates, the department introduced category-based selection Express Entry rounds of invitations in May. These categories, including Healthcare, STEM professions, Trades, Transport, Agriculture and agri-food, and French language proficiency, enable IRCC to prioritize candidates better suited to address labor force gaps, especially in sectors with high job vacancy rates like healthcare and construction.
To date, IRCC has issued invitations to 5,600 candidates in healthcare occupations and 1,500 trades occupation candidates. Deputy Immigration Minister Christiane Fox has indicated that another draw for trades occupations is scheduled before the end of the year.
As outlined in the Levels Plan, Canada is set to admit 110,770 Express Entry candidates in 2024 and 117,500 in both 2025 and 2026, underscoring the government’s commitment to leveraging immigration as a strategic tool to address critical labor market needs and bolster the country’s overall economic resilience.