By EB5 Investors Magazine Staff
Canada has announced it will admit one million immigrants in the next three years. The plan seeks to address the real labor market and skills shortage and offset an aging population and low birth rate.
The plan is described as “the most ambitious” in recent history by Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, himself a former refugee from Somalia. The goal has been set in the government’s new multi-year Immigration Levels Plan, tabled in the House of Commons on November 1.
The country plans to welcome 310,000 permanent residents to Canada in 2018; a number that will increase to 330,000 in 2019, with the goal of 340,000 by 2020. It is an increase of 13 percent overall. Hussen says immigration supports GDP growth through the creation of jobs, attracting investment and driving innovation.
“This multi-year levels plan will benefit all Canadians because immigrants contribute to Canada’s economic growth, and keep Canada competitive in a global economy,” said Béatrice Fénelon, a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. “Immigrants drive innovation and help employers meet labor market needs.”
Immigration levels stand at around 0.8 percent and the multi-year immigration plan will bring the number up to around 0.9 percent each year by 2020, said Hussen at a press conference in Toronto. Hussen said 60 percent of the growth in the immigration levels plan over the next three years will be through Canada’s economic immigration programs, such as the Provincial Nominee Program, which meets labor market needs across the country. The quota for the program will go to 67,800 from the current 51,000 in the next three years.
Hussen said the number of skilled workers selected through the Express Entry immigration selection system - an electronic process involving the federal government, provincial governments, and Canadian employers – will also grow, meaning, “more highly skilled talent will be able to arrive in our country faster for our labor markets.”
Fénelon said this also includes the Start-up Visa Program, that allows immigrant entrepreneurs who have the support of a Canadian investment entity to launch their start-up in Canada.
Some five million Canadians are set to retire in 2035 and by 2036 the ratio is projected to be two working-age adults to one retiree, said Hussen. Supporters of the plan say increased immigration is required for economic growth, community sustainability and ensuring Canada remains globally competitive.
“Canada’s decision to increase immigration will help sustain long-term economic growth in light of its rapidly aging population and low birth rate,” Craig Alexander, senior vice-president, Conference Board of Canada, said in a statement. “Introducing a multi-year levels plan will improve the ability of governments, employers, immigrant-serving organizations and other important stakeholders to successfully integrate newcomers into Canada’s economy and society.”
Canada is committed to eliminating backlogs and reducing processing times, as it has for the last two years, Hussen said, adding that citizenship processing used to take 24 months and now takes 12 months or less. He said improving client services remains a top priority for the government.
Hussen called Canada a "world leader" in settling and integrating immigrants. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made international headlines in January when tweeting about Canada’s policy of welcoming refugees.
Andy J. Semotiuk, a U.S. and Canadian immigration lawyer who runs myworkvisa.com, said Canada has so far not re-opened its federal program.
“There have been discussions along that line, including a conference held by the prestigious Conference Board of Canada but so far no commitments have been made by the federal government in that regard,” said Semotiuk.
He said the only Canadian program similar to the EB-5 program in the U.S. is the Quebec provincial investor program “involving a passive investment with the provincial government of C$800,000 for a period of five years without interest.” He said the investment leads to permanent resident status and a return of the money guaranteed by the provincial government.
“There are other provincial investor programs that are entrepreneurial in nature since they require the investor to take on an active role in the business involved,” Semotiuk said. “The provincial investment programs change as often as lights on a Christmas tree so it is almost a full-time job tracking the changes.”
He said government websites are not always up to date on programs and said since there are eleven provinces, there is a lot to be done to track everything.
“Unless someone is specifically looking at any given moment it is very difficult to say which program is most suited to the investor,” says Semotiuk.
Fénelon said the Federal Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) ended in 2014 and there are no plans to bring back the program. In 2015, the government of Canada tested demand for a new investor pilot program, the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) Pilot Program, but “the demand for this pilot program was low and it was closed that same year,” she said.