The Immigration Levels Plan for 2023-2025
by Michael Scott
IRCC has just released its Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025. The Plan presents a numeric target for the country for new landings for the current and following two years. As expected, the country is prepared to welcome more immigrants in each of the years counter to the recent growing opposition to such a plan. In recent months an increased number of Canadians have been expressing their opposition to such an action speaking about the limits of housing and health costs. The Plan acts as a guide for the growing economy, the reunification of families, and the preservation of Canada as a safe haven for refugees fleeing hardship and war abroad. The country needs newcomers to increase economic activity. Canada does not produce a sufficient number of experienced and inexperienced workers by birth rate and graduations to meet this need.
Canada plans to welcome 465,000 new immigrants in 2023. The targeted landings are expected to increase to 485,000 in 2024 and meet the long-projected number of 500,000 landings in 2025. This trend follows the recent history of new landings since 2021 when the country broke its own record of landing over 405,000. We need new workers, and the country has been meeting increased targets for several years. The record numbers reflect a strong commitment to increasing the supply of needed labour and ensuring that the country respond to the economic downturn during the pandemic. COVID has not disappeared, nor has the government’s intention to recover and address the need for new workers. The opposition Conservatives in Ottawa oppose the increased immigration to the country but time and the next election will see if Canada supports their opposition to rather the Trudeau government’s focus on increased immigration.
The majority of the expected arrivals will come under economic class activity, particularly the federal Express Entry and the Provincial Nomination Programs (PNPs). At both the national and provincial levels, officials are working for increased landings, comprised of principal applicants, dependent children as accompanying or following (family sponsorship). The targets for Express Entry are expected to rise from 82,880 in 2023 to 109.020 in 2024, to 114,000 in 2025. PNP targets go beyond the federal with 105,500 in 2023, 110,000 in 2024, and 117,500 in 2025. It is important that both levels of government participate in identifying and bringing in the needed skilled and semi-skilled workers.
The reunification of families continues to be another important source for landings. Family class sponsorship is second to the economic classes in landings. Canada will continue to support the reunification of families with the country looking to welcome 80,000 new immigrants each year with the sponsorship of spouses, partners, and dependent children. Targets for the Parents and Grandparents Program are all expected to rise to 28,500 in 2023, followed by 34,000 in 2024 and 36,000 in 2025.
Refugee and humanitarian class immigration – in contrast to family and economic activity – is expected to fall off after the much-publicized Syrian, Afghanistan and Ukrainian immigration. However, the targets are fluid and may be changed depending upon continuing wars abroad. The overall refugee class targets set by the new Levels Plan will be just over 75,000 for 2023 and 2024 before dropping to 72,750 in 2025. Humanitarian classes will drop from 16,000 in 2023 down to 8,000 in 2025.
The trends in immigration growth started in the 1980s and continues to the current day. It is instructive to note that the governments of that day did not look as far into the future as the current planning strategy. In 1984 the country welcomed fewer than 90,000 immigrants rising to 250,000 in the 1990s. The country realized then and now that newcomer arrivals are required for economic growth in particular. Canada welcomed roughly 250,000 newcomers annually in 2015 followed by an increase to 300,000 and more under the governing Liberal government. The COVID pandemic impacted negatively on arrivals, but Canada continues to experience increased landings because of the Canadian Experience Class of the Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs.
The country needs to fill nearly one million job vacancies and the shortage of labour remains a problem. We need to consider the country’s low birth rate of 1.4 children per woman, one of the lowest globally. If the country depended only on natural population growth, the number of deaths would soon exceed birth rates. Immigration historically continues to be a way to overcome this trend and provide Canada with the workers the country needs for economic growth. It is too easy for the critics to look to declining housing stocks and blame new arrivals. Immigrants have helped the country grow and will continue to be needed in the future, far beyond the limits of the current three-year Levels Plan. The immigration Act requires an announcement on the Immigration Levels Plan, and we should be encouraged by the targets just announced. The increased numbers are challenging but represent the most realistic way for Canada to grow demographically and meet the increased challenges of the twenty first century. The lyrics of the old song apply, “the times they are a changing” and Canada needs to change with them.
Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: email@example.com.