The minister of immigration suggested that Canada is on track to meet the ambitious immigration targets for 2021.
Marco Mendicino said 26,600 new permanent residents were admitted in January, in a video interview with Bloomberg news. That translates to a roughly 10 per cent increase from January 2020, before Canada went into lockdown.
Mendicino said that with new admission in February, the government is almost 40 per cent ahead of the pace needed to meet the 2021 immigration targets of 401,000 new permanent residents.
On February 13, the federal government invited 27,332 immigration candidates to apply for permanent residence through the popular Express Entry system, about five times more than the previous record-breaking draw. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) invited every single candidate who was eligible for the Canadian Experience Class. An estimated 90 per cent of these candidates were already in Canada at the time of the draw.
Canada’s borders are still closed for non-essential travel. After travel restrictions went into place in March 2020, the number of permanent residents fell about 50 per cent. The year ended with Canada admitting just 184,370 new permanent residents compared with 341,175 in 2019.
This low number of new immigrants means Canada’s population growth slowed to a standstill in 2020. In an average year, immigrants make up about 80 per cent of Canada’s population growth. In an effort to make up for the low number of new immigrants, Canada upped the immigration targets over the next three years. Increasing from 401,000 this year to 421,000 in 2023.
Canada is prioritizing immigration candidates who are already in the country, while travel restrictions are still in place.
The federal government has not released any details on when or how travel restrictions will be lifted. For now, Canadian citizens, permanent residents, their families, essential workers, and international students are among the key groups exempt from travel restrictions.