It was his first major policy speech since his November 2019 appointment as Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. Mendicino was appointed after the Liberal Party of Canada was re-elected to a second mandate in October and he is currently pursuing an immigration plan laid out in his mandate letter.
“Vision” speeches are a long-standing tradition among Canada’s immigration ministers. They outline the government’s aspirational goals and what policies and programs the government will pursue to achieve the goals.
Mendicino’s speech was no different.
Mendicino opened his speech by stating that Canada’s future depends on immigration. As such, it is critical to have a dialogue on how many people Canada needs to secure its economic prosperity.
This dialogue, Mendicino said, is necessary due to Canada’s demographic realities. As an aging country with a low birth rate, Canadians are living longer and not having enough children to maintain the size of its population.
This places greater pressure on Canada’s economy and fiscal standing. This is due to fewer workers being relied upon to fund rising government expenses, such as health care, which will become more expensive to deliver as the share of elderly Canadians continues to rise.
Mendicino said a major part of the solution is to welcome immigrants. Today, some 80 per cent of Canada’s population growth will come from immigration, and estimates suggest this will reach 100 per cent by the 2030s.
This is why Canada will welcome over one million immigrants over the next three years, said Mendicino, as he noted that he will formally table Canada’s 2020-2022 Immigration Levels Plan in March.
Express Entry will remain the flagship program for welcoming immigrants to Canada and has been successful since launching in January 2015. Mendicino noted that 95 per cent of Express Entry arrivals have jobs and some 80 per cent are working in their fields.
Nonetheless, there remains a need to promote the benefits of economic immigration to smaller communities across the country. This explains why the federal government launched the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot in 2019.
The Municipal Nominee Program (MNP) is another initiative that the federal government will pursue to help economic growth across Canada. The Minister stated that the government is in pre-consultations on what the program will look like and welcomes feedback from stakeholders on how to shape the MNP.
Minister Mendicino urged attendees to support a national dialogue that immigration is a net positive for Canada. He observed that Canada’s immigration system has been lauded by the OECD as the international standard on how to effectively manage an immigration system.
He concluded by stating that Canada is built on the strength of immigration.
Welcoming immigrants will help to grow the labour market, support businesses, and ensure that “Canada remains the best country in the world.”
Kareem El-Assal is the Director of Policy & Digital Strategy at CanadaVisa.
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