Im­mi­gra­tion tar­gets ex­pected to stay static

To be un­veiled

Montreal Gazette - - POLITICS - STEPHANIE LEVITZ

• A pos­si­ble clue to how the fed­eral Lib­eral gov­ern­ment will ar­rive at its an­nual im­mi­gra­tion tar­gets for 2018, to be un­veiled Wed­nes­day, can be found in a sim­i­lar pro­vin­cial plan un­veiled just last week.

Que­bec — which sets its own im­mi­gra­tion tar­gets in con­nec­tion with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment — is aim­ing to bring in some 51,000 peo­ple, a tar­get that is un­changed from 2017.

That has ob­servers say­ing they ex­pect the fed­eral num­bers for next year to re­main largely in line with the 2017 goal of 300,000 new­com­ers, though a slight bump is likely. Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Ahmed Hussen of­fered no de­tails Mon­day.

“The main pri­or­ity will be to fo­cus very strongly on the real need of em­ploy­ers, and many sec­tors of the econ­omy, say­ing we need im­mi­gra­tion,” Hussen said be­fore ques­tion pe­riod. “We need skilled im­mi­grants to not only come and fill cer­tain jobs, but also cre­ate more jobs for ev­ery­one else, and pros­per­ity for all of us.”

In 2016, the gov­ern­ment’s eco­nomic ad­vi­sory coun­cil rec­om­mended boost­ing lev­els to 450,000 over the next five years to ad­dress an ag­ing work­force and de­clin­ing birth rate, both of which are leav­ing ma­jor gaps in Canada’s labour mar­ket.

But that bumps up against prac­ti­cal con­sid­er­a­tions, said Ka­reem El-As­sal, a se­nior re­searcher with the Con­fer­ence Board of Canada.

“It would re­quire a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in fed­eral gov­ern­ment ex­pen­di­tures to hire visa of­fi­cers to send them over­seas and what­not, and the ques­tion is where will the money come from?”

The same holds true of a call for the gov­ern­ment to set im­mi­gra­tion tar­gets for a wider win­dow, not just an­nu­ally. At the past fed­er­al­provin­cial meet­ings of min­is­ters re­spon­si­ble for im­mi­gra­tion, all emerged united on the need for a multi-year ap­proach.

Be­ing able to plot out im­mi­gra­tion over a longer pe­riod would lend more cer­tainty for ev­ery­one from em­ploy­ers to refugee set­tle­ment agen­cies, who are among those call­ing for a three-year plan­ning doc­u­ment.

“The chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties that im­mi­gra­tion pro­vides to this coun­try ne­ces­si­tate a much broader pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion than one fo­cused on an­nual lev­els plan­ning,” said the Cana­dian Im­mi­grant Set­tle­ment Sec­tor Al­liance in its brief­ing note to Hussen on the im­mi­gra­tion plan.

Hussen said Mon­day that space will be cre­ated within the plan to ad­dress back­logs, but he also sug­gested refugee lev­els will be main­tained.

Ahmed Hussen

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