The number of new permanent residents admitted to Canada dropped by 26 percent between February and March 2020, showing the initial impact of coronavirus restrictions.
As the global pandemic took hold in Canada and around the world during March, immigration numbers dropped by more than 6,000, from nearly 26,000 admissions to under 20,000.
The figures were released by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on Wednesday.
In Canada’s two major immigration classes, the largest declines were seen in Economic Class immigrants, which saw admissions drop by 29 percent, compared to a 16 percent decline in Family Class admissions.
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Despite the March declines, Canada still admitted more immigrants in the first quarter of 2020 (69,785) than it did in the first quarter of 2019 (65,955).
However, Canada’s full COVID-19 travel restrictions were only put in place halfway through March, meaning the full impact on immigration numbers will not be seen until figures for April become available.
Provincial Immigration Declines
Of Canada’s provinces, Newfoundland & Labrador saw the largest percentage decline at 33 percent, while Quebec, Saskatchewan and British Columbia all saw a 31 percent decline in permanent resident admissions.
Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, saw a 29 percent decline in permanent resident admissions, still above the national average.
The two provinces to significantly buck the trend were Alberta, with just a 7.5 percent decline in numbers, and New Brunswick, which admitted the same number of permanent residents in March as it did in February, although that total was only 345.
The figures are the first hard indication of the impact on immigrant caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Canada restricted arrivals to all but essential travel during March, including closing the border with the U.S.
Exemptions were introduced on March 26 for:
- Seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers.
- International students who hold a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020.
- Permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 18, 2020, but who had not yet travelled to Canada.
14-Day Self-Quarantine Plan
Regardless of the reason for travel or exemption, any traveller with COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed to enter Canada.
Furthermore, anyone entering Canada from the US or any other country will be required to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days upon entry.
Travellers are also required to present a quarantine plan, with details of where they will stay, how they will get groceries and medication and whether they will be staying with vulnerable people.
Immigration Draws Continue
Federal and provincial authorities have continued to conduct immigration draws since the pandemic took hold, but the initial impact on permanent resident arrivals was inevitable.
Earlier in March, Canada’s federal government announced a plan to welcome more than 1 million new immigrants between 2020 and 2022, including a target of 341,000 this year.
Entry restrictions are certain to limit immigration numbers in the short term. But Canada’s policy of managed immigration increases to assist economic growth will likely remain in place, with periods of adjustment to global developments.