How many immigrants will Canada welcome over the coming years?

Edana Robitaille
Published: May 19, 2022

Canada is on track to welcome record numbers of new immigrants between 2022 and 2024.

Despite the pandemic, Canada reached record numbers in 2021 with over 405,000 people becoming permanent residents. For 2022, Canada has recently released a revised target of over 432,000 immigrants and even higher numbers in 2023 and 2024. The numbers may seem highly specific, but each target is based on the Canadian government’s Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024.

What is the immigration levels plan?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses the Immigration Levels Plan as a guide to determine the total number of permanent residents Canada will aim to welcome in a given year. It also indicates which immigration categories the permanent residents will be welcomed under. Since the late 1980s, Canada has been welcoming more than 200,000 immigrants most years, and this increased to over 300,000 annually prior to the pandemic. Since 2021, this target has increased to over 400,000 per year, which is about 1.1% of Canada’s population.

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Why does Canada need immigrants?

Canada is currently experiencing historically low levels of unemployment. The most recent data from Statistics Canada indicates the current level of unemployment is at 5.2%, the lowest it has been since records began being kept in the 1970s. The reason for this is that Canada’s population is aging and the birth rate is too low to replace the nine million workers who will reach retirement age by 2030. Canada has one of the lowest birth rates in the world with an average of about 1.5 children per woman.

With fewer Canadian-born citizens, Canada relies on immigrants to work and contribute taxes in order to support an aging population. For example, according to the 2022 federal budget, healthcare spending is projected to rise significantly over the coming years to an estimated $56 billion in 2027. Immigration is vital to ensuring that Canada has a robust economy as well as strong social services and healthcare that everyone benefits from, including permanent residents.

How does it work?

In order to keep up with the ever-evolving needs of the labour market and close the gap in the workforce, IRCC analyzes data such as demographics, economic and labour force indicators, integration capacity, global circumstances, and processing capacity. The ultimate goal is to create a plan that bolsters Canada’s economy, reunites families, and provides humanitarian assistance. Finding this balance is the basis of the Immigration Levels Plan.

How does IRCC break down the numbers?

Over the next three years, economic class immigration will comprise 57% of Canada's annual immigration target. This will account for over 240,000 new permanent residents arriving each year, with a projected target of 267,750 skilled workers arriving by 2024.

About 25% of new permanent residents will be selected through family class sponsorship, those who are being sponsored by a relative in Canada who is already a permanent resident or citizen. Over 100,000 will be arriving each year.

The remaining 18% of new permanent residents will be made up of refugees and humanitarian class immigrants. The plan targets just under 85,000 people in 2022 and with a gradual decrease in numbers into 2024.

Looking ahead

The Immigration Levels Plan is typically released once a year but 2022 has been an exception with two plans due to a delay caused by the most recent federal election. Going forward, IRCC will release the next Immigration Levels Plan for 2023-2025 by November 1st this year.

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