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Immigration Ministers discussed new strategies to plan ahead after pandemic is over

 

Immigration remains high on Canada’s priorities after the pandemic is over. Ministers discussed new crucial steps to aid economic recovery through immigration on a teleconference last Friday. Among the main issues were economic recovery and especially assessing the impact of coronavirus outbreak on the Canadian immigration system.

The meeting presided me not only federal ministers but also political representatives of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories. The key is to understand that any choice regarding immigration must be negotiated between federal policy and municipal, provincial, and local authorities. The entire system of Canada’s immigration is based on a bilateral agreement enabling provinces and territories to operate decentralized immigration programs in order to boost and seek out economic class immigrants that better fit the province’s or territory’s economic needs.

On Friday, July 24, the teleconference ended with ministers once again agreeing to push forward and renew a ‘strong immigration system’. Here are the main takes from what was discussed.

 

Federal-provincial collaboration on the subject of immigration

Under Section 95 of the Constitution Act, 1867 immigration is defined as a shared competence under federal-provincial jurisdiction, with federal law prevails. This means that since the country’s founding, immigration has been seen as a shared jurisdiction because it supports the growth and security of the country’s first four provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario. Today, Canada’s main immigration law is the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

Provincial involvement declined in the 20th century but steadily became authoritative starting from the 1960s when Quebec sought to welcome more Francophone immigrants. In the 1990s, the rest of Canada’s provinces also sought more autonomy on the matter of immigration in order to tackle low birth rates, declining population, and economic problems.

This led to the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), to this day one of the most successful immigration programs in Canada’s history.

 

What was discussed on Friday

At the heart of discussions on Friday was a coronavirus impact on Canada’s immigration system. But ministers also brought to the table new immigration levels planning and regional economic integration. The Federal-Provincial-Territorial Strategic Plan for Immigration 2020-2023 was considered for approval.

The meeting underlined the importance of international students as a key driver for economic and demographic growth. Current travel restrictions, unfortunately, hinder Canada’s ability to receive new immigration in the short term. Still, the country continues to experience labor shortages in multiple sectors, and the aging population and low birth rate among Canadians is still an issue. Therefore, immigration is prioritized in order to maintain positive population growth and fill gaps in the labor market.

The meeting also stressed the continued importance and is looking to expand the Municipal Nominee Program in order to tackle the problem of attracting newcomers to smaller cities rather than metropolises like Toronto, Montreal, or Edmonton.

 

Moreover, there will be a next meeting in the fall - shortly after the announcement of new immigration levels for 2021-2023.