Immigration into Canada drops to lowest level in more than two decades
Canada will fail to hit immigration targets for a second straight year as border restrictions remain in place, according to one of the nation’s top banks.
The country will probably welcome closer to 275,000 new permanent residents this year, versus a target of 401,000, Royal Bank of Canada economist Andrew Agopsowicz said in a report Tuesday. Last year, Canadian immigration dropped by almost half to 184,370, its lowest levels in more than two decades.
Closed borders, visa processing delays and fewer residency applications all suggest the flow of new immigrants will remain below pre-pandemic levels and disappoint the government’s efforts to ramp up flows, Agopsowicz said in the report.
The ambitious targets suggest the government “may be putting the cart in front of the horse as strong headwinds limiting the number of newcomers are still in play,” he said in the report.
Immigration has been essential to increasing Canada’s population, credited with supporting everything from the housing market to demand for services like banking. But the drop in both temporary and permanent immigration last year is having an impact, with quarterly population growth falling to the slowest on record.
To help make up for last year’s shortfall, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has set out lofty targets of 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, followed by 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023. To meet those goals, the government is looking to facilitate permanent residency for temporary workers and international students already in the country.
“In the long-run, Canada does have the capacity to hit the ambitious targets set out last fall and population growth from new immigration will again return as the main driver,” Agopsowicz said. “However, with the effects of the pandemic looking more likely to remain into the spring and summer, the headwinds listed above will keep immigration into Canada low throughout most of 2021.”