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Canada Affirms Commitment To Immigration

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OTTAWA, October 31, 2001 — Citizenship and Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to immigration today by tabling a plan in the House of Commons on immigration levels for 2002. The planning range, established in consultation with provincial and territorial governments, moves the Government of Canada closer to its long-term goal of annual immigration levels of one percent of the population.

“Behind these numbers are real people who are prepared to come to this country, work hard and contribute to our future,” said the Minister. “Immigration is above all about nation building.” The number of immigrants Canada expects to receive in 2002 ranges from 210,000 to 235,000, up slightly from the range of 200,000 to 225,000 in 2001.

In her comments, the Minister affirmed the growing importance of immigration to the Canadian economy. “Immigrants now account for more than 70 percent of all labour force growth, a proportion that will grow to 100 percent in the coming years. This gradual increase will enable us to sustain our competitiveness and fuel an economy driven by innovation, and expanding commercial and cultural links to the world.”

Minister Caplan underlined that the immigration plan would need to strike the proper balance between the health, safety and security of Canadians, and Canada’s traditional openness to newcomers. “The security of Canadians is our highest priority. We will deny access to people who pose criminal or security threats to Canada. Our proposed legislation, Bill C-11, will provide new tools to help with this. In addition, the strengthened immigration measures to counter terrorism that I announced earlier this month will allow us to move quickly on several important measures. These include front-end security screening of refugee claimants, adding staff to conduct intensified security screening at ports of entry, increasing our detention and deportation capacity, and fast-tracking the permanent resident card for new immigrants.”