The government is boosting the base number of immigrants allowed into Canada next year to 300,000, to help drive economic growth as the country grapples with an aging demographic.
The previous target from 2011 to 2015 was 260,000, but that changed to 300,000 this year because of what Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum called the “special circumstances” of the Syrian refugee crisis. That number will now be the permanent base.
The government’s economic growth council had recommended raising immigration levels to 450,000 over the next five years, but Minister McCallum rejected that target.
“That number is a conceivable number for some date in the future, but certainly not for 2017,” he said.
There has been much debate over the targeted immigration level at a time when Canada struggles with high unemployment.
There have also been questions about Canada’s ability to smoothly integrate newcomers into communities.
“We do it well, but I think we could learn to do it better,” Minister McCallum said.
The 2017 targets boost entries for those in the “economic” class — skilled workers, businesspeople and caregivers — to 172,500 from 160,600. In the family class, the number of sponsored spouses, partners, children, parents and grandparents will climb to 84,000 from 80,000.