IRCC to target a reduction in the temporary resident population over the next three years

Edana Robitaille
Published: March 22, 2024

Immigration Minister Marc Miller has announced that temporary resident targets will be added to the annual Immigration Levels Plan starting in fall 2024.

The Immigration Levels Plan sets targets for the number of new permanent residents who will be welcomed to Canada each year, for the upcoming three years.

Until now temporary resident levels have not been considered in the Immigration Levels Plan.

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The Minister clarified that the targets are not meant to be a cap. However, he said it is possible that in certain areas Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) would limit applications.

To date, there has been no target, nor cap, for permits issued through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), the International Mobility Program(IMP), Intra-company Transfers (ICT) or trade agreements, such as the Canada United States Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).

A cap on the number of study permits for international students that IRCC will consider was announced earlier this year.

Miller said that adding temporary residents to the Immigration Levels Plan will help the country stabilize population growth. He also mentioned that Canada has “become addicted” to temporary foreign workers.

“Recently Canada’s temporary resident volume has increased significantly now reaching up to 2.5 million, or 6.2% of our population in 2023,” said Miller. “Therefore, in our levels plan, we will be including a target on an adequate volume of temporary residents we can welcome. We are targeting a decrease in our temporary resident population to 5% over the next 3 years.”

More domestic draws for permanent residence

Part of stabilizing Canada’s population growth involves changes to how new permanent residents are selected.

“As part of our efforts for temporary residents to transition to permanent residency, we’ll have more domestic draws and ask provinces and territories taking part in the provincial nominee program to do the same with their allocations. This will re-align our efforts and create a pathway for those in the country to stay and contribute to the economy.”

Put another way, Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) draws, and possibly Express Entry draws, may be more likely to select or target candidates who are already in Canada as temporary residents.

He stressed that temporary residents were a strength to Canada’s economy and the changes come following a necessary review of current immigration programs and measures following the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the minister, the labour market has tightened. Canada has recovered 138% of the jobs that were lost during the pandemic.

Immigration in Canada

Canada expects to welcome 485,000 new permanent residents in 2024. This rises to 500,000 in 2025 and 2026. IRCC says that maintaining that target will help stabilize the boom in Canada’s population due to immigration and allow the federal government and provincial governments to support newcomers while balancing the need of Canada’s existing population.

“We want every new family and resident to be set up for success and be able to access the services they need. Our ultimate goal is to ensure a well-managed, sustainable immigration system based off needs,” said Miller.

IRCC has dealt with criticism in recent months regarding record-high levels of immigration as Canada copes with a shortage of affordable housing as well as a strained healthcare system.

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