Budget 2024: How will it impact Canadian immigration?

Edana Robitaille
Published: April 17, 2024

Canada’s Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland has tabled federal Budget 2024 to Parliament.

Canada releases a budget annually that sets the tone for spending in the upcoming fiscal year. It plays a major role in how life will be managed for all people in Canada, including newcomers.

For example, the Budget outlines the national plan for spending on all federal services and provides a glimpse of what can be expected for Canada’s economy in the coming fiscal year.

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Understanding how the government plans to spend money is a key factor in making sense of Canada’s immigration policies moving forward.

This year’s Budget featured $53 billion new spending and has a heavy focus on improving housing affordability in Canada as well as defence spending and improving productivity in Canada’s labour force to support the economy.

Spending on immigration was not a main component of this year’s Budget. However, some new spending and top-ups to existing measures from earlier budgets may help newcomers to Canada find affordable housing and get working in critical sectors.

Affordable housing

Leading up to today’s announcement, Minister Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made several announcements regarding how the federal government plans to help with the current housing affordability crisis.

Many of the measures are aimed at millennials and generation z, who are often negatively impacted by the cost of housing in Canada.

The announcements included a Renters Bill of Rights and increased funding for the  existing Apartment Construction Loan Program, bringing the total up to $55 billion. The program is aimed at incentivizing developers to build more apartments and rental housing, including student residences and long-term care facilities.

Minister Freeland also announced that as of April 16, first-time home buyers will be able to use $60,000 from their RRSPs to put towards purchasing their first home, almost double the previous maximum of $35,000. They will also have five years to begin repaying them.

Aligning immigration with housing in Canada

Budget 2024 also reiterates recent changes that Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has made considering the shortage of housing.

For example, the upcoming Immigration Levels Plan 2025-2027 will, for the first time, also include temporary resident targets. This includes temporary workers and international students.

The government says it expects a reduction of up to 600,000 temporary residents over the next three years. This is expected to reduce demand on Canada’s limited supply of housing.

Foreign credential recognition

Following up on an initiative included in the Fall Economic Statement in 2023, the government has pledged to spend $50 million on the Foreign Credential Recognition Program. Budget 2024 shows that half of the funding will go to residential construction to assist skilled trades workers in obtaining the necessary credentials to work in Canada, or the province they settle in.

The other half of the funding will go to the healthcare sector. The federal government says that this may help “provinces and territories to expedite removal of their barriers to foreign credential recognition.”

This investment builds on the $115 million investment included in Budget 2022.

Immigration and Canada’s economy

The Budget speaks of how immigration has impacted Canada’s economy. It says that in recent years newcomers are shrinking the initial income gap between themselves and non-immigrants.

It says that “Given newcomers typically earn less than the average Canadian upon arrival, a large one-time increase in the number of newcomers has weighed on the national average income and productivity in the short-term.”

However, it notes that over the most recent 10-year period, it took six years for newcomers to reach the median Canadian income but by the end of that ten years, they surpassed that median income by 10%.

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