Canadian government’s Economic and Fiscal Update notes higher immigration is part of COVID recovery plan

Shelby Thevenot, Kareem El-Assal
Published: December 14, 2021

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland presented the Canadian government's Economic and Fiscal Update in Parliament the evening of December 14.

This update is the first revision of the government's economic forecast since the 2021 Federal Budget was released in April.

These types of announcements show Canadians where the government spending priorities are heading. For instance, the fiscal update from last year called for increased spending to child benefits, and in the spring the government promised to implement $10-dollar-a-day childcare.

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Fiscal updates and the Budget often contain action items that directly and indirectly affect newcomers. Government policies on a variety of issues including job creation, health care, education, infrastructure, child care, and more impact all those who live in Canada, including immigrants. Sometimes the action items are tailored to immigration, as was the case in Budget 2021.

In her new address, Freeland went over the policy measures the government was pursuing to allow Canada to recover economically and socially from the pandemic. Freeland noted "Immigration is another important driver of economic growth and a Canadian competitive advantage. Our government is committed to bringing in 411,000 immigrants in 2022, the highest number in Canadian history. To help support this effort and reduce processing time for permanent and temporary resident and citizenship applications, we are investing $85 million in our immigration system."

This remark stresses the Canadian government remains committed to achieving the ambitious targets set under the Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023. In addition, Freeland alluded to the need to reduce immigration application processing times. Application backlogs have grown during the pandemic.

Earlier this year, Budget 2021 contained five significant pledges on immigration, some of which have already come to pass such as the funding for the Temporary Residence to Permanent Residence (TR to PR) pathway.

Budget 2021 also called for the replacement of the outdated Global Case Management System (GCMS), which processes citizenship and immigration applications.

It also suggested the government is looking to reform Express Entry, giving the immigration minister more authority to select candidates based on labour market needs, although further details are not yet available.

In addition, Budget 2021 announced more spending on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The additional funds would increase employer compliance inspections to prevent worker mistreatment, and supporting vulnerable foreign workers by allowing them to get open work permits if they were abused by their Canadian employers.

Finally, Budget 2021 proposed additional spending on initiatives to improve the employment outcomes of racialized newcomer women.

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