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Canada plans to set limits on immigrant temporary worker inflows

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MUMBAI: Fueled by the rising costs of living, a

housing crisis

, and the inability of its various infrastructure facilities, such as healthcare, to cope with an increasing influx of immigrants, Canada continues on its path to curb such inflows.
After having announced in January a two-year intake cap for international students, the move has now been expanded to cover all “temporary residents” – which includes international students, temporary foreign workers, those who have fled to Canada under its humanitarian programs, and asylum seekers.

For the first time ever, starting in fall (September), Canada will place limits on the number of “temporary residents” that it will admit. Till date, annual targets were set only for permanent residents who have a pathway to Canadian citizenship.
Marc Miller, Canada’s Immigration Minister, while addressing the media late night on Thursday (India time), pointed out that the country’s temporary resident population has grown rapidly, reaching up to 2.5 million (6.2% of the overall Canadian population in 2023).

“As a starting point, we are targeting a decrease in our temporary resident population to 5% over the next three years. This target will be finalized in the fall, after consulting our provincial and territorial counterparts and as part of our annual levels planning,” he stated.
Miller emphasized the need to strengthen the alignment between immigration planning, community capacity, and labor market needs. Thus, to support predictable population growth, targets would be set not only for the number of permanent residents but also for temporary residents.

“Starting this fall, for the first time, we will expand the Immigration Levels Plan to include both temporary resident arrivals and permanent resident arrivals,” said Miller.
The announcements are likely to impact Indian aspirants, even as recent strained relations between the two countries and the higher costs of living in Canada have dampened interest.
India has been one of the top source countries under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP). During 2023, nearly 26,500 Indians were granted permits under the TFWP program, second only to Mexicans who had bagged 45,500 permits. The Philippines was third with nearly 20,600 temporary resident permits being allotted to its nationals under this program. As regards international students, India was the topmost source country providing 2.2 lakh new students in 2022. But recent numbers show a significant drop – between July-Oct 2022, the Canadian government had processed 1.46 lakh new study permit applications, which during the same period in 2023 dropped to just 87,000. The annual data for 2023 is not yet released.
In his address, Miller acknowledged the role of temporary foreign workers, especially those who are filling job vacancies in critical industries like construction workers, early childhood educators, and healthcare professionals but pointed to the need “to make the system more efficient and sustainable.” According to immigration experts, it is likely that some leeway will be given in admitting temporary workers in critical sectors.
He said, “Our programs that welcome temporary residents must reflect the needs and changing demands of the labor market.” “To that end, I have directed my department to conduct a review of existing programs that bring in temporary workers, and we are undertaking work to better align streams with labor market needs and weed out abuses in the system.”
Miller acknowledged the need to ensure robust pathways to permanent residence for those who wish to make Canada their home and avoid the pitfalls of an economy built solely on temporary workers. To this end, he would be working closely with the Minister of Employment on those immigration streams that fall under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
It is likely that the coming months will focus on ‘

Provincial Nominee Programs

’ for permanent residency invites. Miller said, “On another hand, the Provincial Nominee Program provides provinces and territories with an opportunity to address their specific economic needs while distributing the benefits of economic immigration and nominating individuals for permanent residency. As part of our efforts for temporary residents to transition to permanent residency, we will have more domestic draws for us and ask provinces and territories taking part in the Provincial Nominee Program to do the same with their allocations.”
“However, if there is one thing to take away from these comments today, it is this: Canada will continue to benefit from the important contributions newcomers make each and every day. 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 built on needs rather than profitability at the cost of integrity and sustainability,” he summed up.

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