Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan 2024-2026 addresses housing and healthcare

On November 1st Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) released the Immigration Levels Plan 2024-2026.

The sets the target for the number of permanent resident admissions to Canada for the next three years.

Canada will admit 485,000 new permanent residents in 2024 and 500,000 annually in both each of 2024 and 2025.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller said that the plan would stabilize the number of newcomers arriving in Canada, which has been a matter of concern for many Canadians.

A recent report by the Environics Institute found that Canadians are voicing less support for elevated levels of immigration than they have in previous years. The report found that those who had withdrawn their support said they were worried about affordability in Canada, particularly housing.

Recognizing these concerns, the Minister says that the new plan will be comprehensive and work to achieve a balance between Canada’s labour force needs and ensuring Canada’s existing population is supported.

“We recognize that housing, infrastructure planning, and sustainable population growth need to be properly taken into account.” he said in an official statement. “Through this plan, we are striking the appropriate balance to grow Canada’s economy, while maintaining our humanitarian tradition, supporting Francophone immigration, and developing a more collaborative approach to levels planning with our partners. Canada will continue to welcome newcomers and ensure that they are supported in their new lives.”

How will the levels plan help Canada’s labour force?

The Immigration Levels Plan for 2024-2026 was tabled the day after IRCC released a Strategic Immigration Program, a new report that outlines the department’s updated approach to immigration.

One of the key pillars of the report is supporting Canada’s labour force growth. To that end, over 60% of newcomers over the next three years will be from economic class immigration pathways such as Express Entry managed programs, the Provincial Nominee Program or other regional economic immigration programs.

In 2024, Canada will welcome 281,135 economic immigrants and 301,250 in both 2025 and 2026.

IRCC’s new strategy also includes a “whole of government” approach to immigration in which IRCC consults with stakeholders, government departments and partners such as provincial governments to better understand the skills that are needed and how many newcomers are necessary to close the gaps.

This approach will also help IRCC assess if there is enough support for newcomers when they arrive.

Additionally, to help attract this high number of skilled newcomers, the Strategic Program says IRCC plans to work with partners to improve foreign credential recognition to enable more newcomers to apply their skills.

It also plans to promote awareness of programs that provide financial assistance, including loans, to help newcomers with the costs associated with the credential recognition process.

Healthcare and construction in Canada

When IRCC released the levels plan it also said that bringing in a high number of immigrants to fill labour market gaps will help Canada deliver on its National Housing Strategy. The Housing Strategy aims to invest more than $82 billion over the next ten years to build more houses in Canada, which will in turn lower costs. This will require more skilled workers in construction and trades.

People in Canada are also concerned about the state of healthcare in the country. Data from Statistics Canada shows that there were 136,000 in healthcare and social assistance as of August 2023.

Strains on the healthcare system became especially apparent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic when many healthcare workers were frequently required to work overtime without a break. This led to burnout and some healthcare professionals decided to switch occupations.

Further, up to nine million Canadians are expected to retire by 2030, and as Canada’s population ages pressure on the system will increase.

Census 2021 data shows that more than 468,000 immigrants work in health-related occupations, but it is still not enough to fill all the job vacancies.

Category-based Express Entry

In May this year, IRCC introduced category-based selection Express Entry rounds of invitations.

These new categories are aimed at targeting Express Entry candidates who have specific attributes that will help IRCC fulfill its mandates. The categories are:

  • Healthcare;
  • STEM professions;
  • Trades;
  • Transport;
  • Agriculture and agri-food; and
  • French language proficiency

Through these category-based rounds, IRCC selects those who are better placed to fill labour force gaps in sectors with a high job vacancy rate such as healthcare and construction. To date, IRCC has invited 5,600 candidates in healthcare occupations and 1,500 trades occupation candidates.

Deputy Immigration Minister Christiane Fox has said that another draw for trades occupations will take place before December this year.

The Levels Plan shows that in 2024, Canada will admit 110,770 Express Entry candidates and 117,500 in both 2025 and 2026.

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