In this new era of President-elect Donald Trump and Britain exiting the European Union, Justin Trudeau’s government need to exercise sound judgement to ensure Canada keeps its spot as a Liberal world leader.
This is why maintaining the number of new permanent residents for 2017 at 300,000 – reported by many as an underwhelming move – was actually a strategic manoeuver by Immigration Minister John McCallum.
Canadian Immigration Numbers for 2017
|Immigration Category||Category||2016 target||2017 target|
– High Skilled
|Provincial Nominee Program||47,800||51,000|
|Quebec Skilled Worker||26,200||29,300|
|Parents & Grandparents||20,000||20,000|
in Canada &
dependants in abroad
Protected Persons Total
|Humanitarian and Other||3,600||3,500|
Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
In doing so he established 300,000 as the new base level for Canadian immigration – a number only set for 2016 because of the plan to welcome thousands of Syrian refugees.
The number of refugees will drop for 2017, but the overall numbers will not, and the shortfall will be made up mainly by economic immigrants.
The way in which the immigration numbers were reported in the mainstream media will have been exactly what McCallum wanted. Canada’s major outlets were critical of the government for not increasing numbers.
With right-lurching Conservatives like Kellie Leitch trying to jump on the Trump bandwagon with anti-immigration rhetoric, it is difficult to see her gaining much traction when the Liberal government is already being criticised for not bringing in sufficient numbers of newcomers.
By keeping the number of new immigrants at 300,000 for 2017, the same as 2016, the federal government is establishing a benchmark level for the coming years.
It could not jump in and significantly increase the number of newcomers without upsetting a large proportion of the electorate. Instead, it will add numbers, but in a strategic and measured way.
It is important to note that while the upper target for 2016 immigration is 305,000, the government is expected to exceed that figure after welcoming 320,000 newcomers in the year-end to July.
The upper target for 2017 is 320,000 but if 2016 is anything to go by, the government views these figures as guidance rather than imposing any strict limit.
Numbers will rise significantly in the come years, but the government knows the increase has to be carefully managed to appease all stakeholders.
Businesses initially criticised the plan because they were expecting a significant increase in numbers. Just before the announcement, a key government advisory panel called for the annual number to rise to 450,000.
Had McCallum followed this advice, he would only have strengthened the argument of Leitch and her associates – against a backdrop of a Trump victory.
The Liberals have managed to achieve a significant increase in numbers while the headlines have suggested otherwise. This represents something of an immigration policy coup.
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