Canada will aim to welcome 1.2 million immigrants from 2021 to 2023 to make up for a shortfall this year blamed on the pandemic, the immigration minister announced Friday.
The plan calls for accepting 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023 — an immigration rate equal to about one percent of Canada’s population.
“The key to both short-term economic recovery and long-term prosperity is immigration,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino told a news conference.
Canada had expected to bring in 341,000 skilled workers, family members of Canadians and refugees this year.
But because of closed borders and visa offices, quarantines and few available international flights, only a fraction came.
“As with every other aspect of our lives, the pandemic has affected migration to Canada,” the minister commented.
The new target is about 50,000 per year higher than the previous goal.
To help make up the shortfall, Mendicino said the government would offer permanent resident status to temporary foreign workers, international students and asylum claimants already in Canada.
He noted that immigrants have been “critical” to Canada’s pandemic response, representing one in four health care workers in hospitals and elderly care homes. They also account for one-third of business owners in Canada.
“Whether they’ve been taking care of our most vulnerable, or putting food on our tables, newcomers have played an outsized role in our response to Covid-19,” he said.