Immigration to rise over next three years

IRCC tables immigration plan for 2019-2021

Immigration numbers are going up.

On October 31, 2018, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) Ahmed Hussen released the new multi-year immigration levels plan for 2019 to 2021.

The new plan continues to grow the number of permanent residents Canada welcomes annually to 330,800 in 2019, 341,000 in 2020 and 350,000 — nearing one per cent of Canada’s population — in 2021.

In 2017, Canada welcomed 286,000 permanent residents in 2017, more than half under Economic Class programs, and 44,000 refugees.

Explaining the increase, Hussen highlighted the importance of immigration to Canada’s economy. “The new multi-year immigration levels plan supports Canadian employers and businesses by ensuring they have the skilled labour they need to spur innovation and help to keep our country at the forefront of the global economy,” he said. “Building on the strong foundation set out last year and continuing to increase economic immigration will help Canada stay competitive and attract talent from around the world.”

The government’s immigration plan remains focused on attracting the best and brightest from around the world with the majority of the increase in 2021 allotted to high-skilled economic immigration.

Conference Board of Canada supports immigration increase

After the announcement, Kareem El-Assal, immigration researcher with the Conference Board of Canada, said this in support of the increases: “The federal government is continuing to gradually increase immigration levels in response to the economic and fiscal pressures Canada is facing due to its rapidly aging population and low birth rate. The combination of some five million baby boomers reaching retirement age over the next decade, weakening labour force growth, and higher government expenditures in vital areas such as health care makes it incumbent on Canada to slowly up its newcomer intake to help maintain the country’s high living standards.”

The Conference Board’s research suggests that increasing the immigration rate to 1 per cent of the population by 2034 is necessary to maintain the country’s high living standards.

“Immigration already accounts for all of Canada’s labour force growth and one of our forthcoming studies indicates this will remain the case through to 2040. By 2034, we expect Canada’s births to be cancelled out by its deaths. At this point, upping the immigration rate to about 1 per cent would enable Canada to replicate the same population growth rate (also 1 per cent) it has relied upon in recent decades to support labour force and economic growth,” El-Assal points out.

Opposition to immigration plan

In response to the new immigration plan, Conservative Party immigration critic Michelle Rempel said to media the current government doesn’t have the “credibility to set Canada’s immigration levels,” in part due to the handling of irregular migration.

Rempel cited a recent Angus Reid poll that found that 49 per cent of Canadians wanted to see the country reduce, not increase immigration. She further added that Hussen’s claim that there is a “huge” demand for workers in certain parts of the country did not come with sufficient data to back up that claim.

2019–2021 Immigration Levels Plan*



Target number of immigrants


Federal Economic,
Provincial/Territorial Nominees

142,500 – 176,000149,500 – 172,500157,500 – 178,500

Family Reunification

83,000 – 98,00084,000 – 102,00084,000 – 102,000

Refugees, Protected Persons, Humanitarian and Other

43,000 – 58,500

47,000 – 61,500

48,500 – 64,500

*Excludes Quebec. Under the Canada-Quebec Accord, Quebec has full responsibility for the selection of immigrants destined to Quebec (except Family Class and in-Canada refugee claimants). Quebec’s planned levels for 2019 and beyond were not finalized in time to be included in this plan.