CILA’s statement on Canada’s temporary resident levels announcement


In light of today’s press conference by Immigration Minister Marc Miller and Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault, CILA emphasizes the need for a balanced approach to managing Canada’s temporary resident levels. 

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Statistics Canada estimates Canada’s temporary resident population stood at some 2.5 million people in Q4 2023, compared to nearly 1.4 million people in Q4 2021. This afternoon, the federal government announced it aims to reduce this figure by 20% over the next three years. As such, for the first time, beginning this fall, Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan will include a temporary resident arrivals target. Previously, the Canadian government only set annual targets for permanent residents, which currently aims to bring in about half a million immigrants annually. 

CILA wishes to stress the significant growth of temporary residents is largely due to Canadian government policies aimed at strengthening the economy, reuniting families, and providing humanitarian assistance. 

As an example on the humanitarian front, Canada has welcomed nearly 250,000 Ukrainians since the war with Russia began in 2022, something which stakeholders across Canada including CILA widely recognize as a necessary and commendable initiative. 

On the economic and family front, Canada has approved millions of new temporary resident permits due to a variety of reasons it believes advance our country’s interests. 

Last year, IRCC and ESDC enabled 185,000 new work permits to take effect under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). This represents a 37 per cent increase compared to 2022. The TFWP exists to fill job vacancies when Canadians are unavailable to do the job. Employers must go through a stringent process to demonstrate to Employment and Social Development Canada they have complied with Canada’s regulations and are turning to foreign workers as a last resort. They can only go through the hiring of a foreign national once ESDC has determined there will not be a negative impact on Canadian workers. 

The growth of Canada’s temporary resident population has largely been due to the country’s efforts to welcome more international students, who contribute over $22 billion and support some 220,000 jobs, according to Global Affairs Canada. As such, a record 684,000 study permits took effect last year, compared to 550,000 in 2022 (a 25 per cent increase). 

The International Mobility Program (IMP) offers work permits for a host of economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian reasons. For instance, it is the program that enables Ukrainians, asylum claimants, and others to gain work permits for humanitarian purposes. Eligible international students can obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit, which enables them to gain more Canadian work experience which they can use to support their eligibility for permanent residence. The loved ones of Canadians, permanent residents, and temporary residents may also be eligible for work permits under the IMP. Last year, 768,000 IMP work permits took effect, a 64 per cent increase compared to 2022. 

CILA recognizes the need to strengthen the integrity of the international student and foreign worker programs, something which we have emphasized in recent months. What we also continue to emphasize is the need for the federal government to consult widely to best achieve such objectives. CILA acknowledges the need for rigorous oversight to prevent abuse and protect Canadian workers. The reforms announced today, such as stricter LMIA regulations and prioritizing asylum seekers in recruitment, reflect steps toward these goals. At the same time, as Canada’s population continues to age and employers across the country face genuine labour shortages, the federal government should not take an overly punitive approach that undermines shared efforts to promote economic development. 

As consultations begin this spring to discuss setting targets for temporary resident arrivals, CILA advocates for inclusivity, considering the diverse needs of sectors and individuals. We encourage ongoing dialogue with external stakeholders such as CILA to address concerns regarding potential economic impacts, the humanitarian crisis, and the evolving landscape of international education. 

In conclusion, CILA stands ready to engage constructively with policymakers to ensure immigration policies align with Canada’s long-term prosperity and commitment to humanitarian values. Together, we can navigate these challenges and foster a welcoming, sustainable approach to immigration. 

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