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Canadian Ministers Commit to Strengthening Canada’s Immigration System

On May 10, 2024, the Forum of Ministers Responsible for Immigration (FMRI) met to discuss the future of Canada’s immigration levels for 2025–2027, focusing on balancing economic growth, social benefits, and effective newcomer integration.

Economic and Social Benefits of Immigration

Canada’s immigration ministers stressed the crucial role of a well-managed immigration system in distributing immigration benefits across the country. Provincial and territorial ministers urged the federal government to reverse the $625 million cuts to employment services under the labour market transfer agreements (LMTAs). “These cuts risk the services on which workers, newcomers, job seekers, and vulnerable Canadians rely,” a minister emphasized.


Balancing Temporary and Permanent Residents

A significant topic was the federal government’s plan to include temporary residents in the annual immigration levels plan for the first time and reduce their numbers to 5% of Canada’s total population. Temporary residents, including temporary foreign workers, international students, humanitarian arrivals, and asylum claimants, are vital to the economy and cultural diversity. “Temporary residents play a vital role in our economy, labour markets, and cultural diversity,” noted a minister.


Ministers underscored the importance of a strategic approach to managing reductions in temporary resident volumes, ensuring that key industry sectors reliant on foreign workers are not adversely affected. They emphasized using data-driven strategies to monitor the impacts of federal measures aimed at reducing temporary resident numbers.


Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and Labour Market Needs

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) was highlighted as a critical tool in addressing regional labour market needs and supporting economic growth. Ministers called for increased PNP allocations to meet specific provincial and territorial objectives. “PNPs are essential in spreading the economic benefits of immigration across the country,” emphasized the Honourable Jeremy Harrison, Minister of Immigration and Career Training and Provincial and Territorial co-chair of the FMRI.


Impact of Global Crises

Ministers also addressed Canada’s leadership in welcoming displaced individuals due to global conflicts, economic upheavals, and natural disasters. They discussed the Canada–Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program and the need for permanent solutions for Ukrainians wishing to remain in Canada. They acknowledged the rising number of asylum claimants and the importance of maintaining a fair and efficient asylum system. Strengthening our asylum system is crucial to meeting our humanitarian obligations,” stated a minister.


Federal Measures and Program Alignment

Recent federal measures, including changes to the International Student Program (ISP) and work permit programs, were scrutinized. Ministers called for better alignment between immigration policies and regional labour market needs, stressing the necessity of prioritizing Canadians and permanent residents for job opportunities. “We need a data-driven approach to manage the impacts of recent federal measures,” commented a provincial representative.


Commitment to Collaboration

“Today we had very productive discussions on the key immigration challenges that we face as a country,” said the Honourable Marc Miller, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and federal co-chair of the FMRI. “We discussed how to factor in temporary residents into immigration levels planning while addressing labour market shortages and successfully integrating newcomers in our communities. We will continue to work collaboratively to reduce capacity pressures while assuring sustainable population growth and access to social programs.”


Ministers acknowledged the pressures faced by Ontario and Quebec due to high volumes of asylum claimants. They agreed to establish a working group to manage the flow of asylum claimants and support integration efforts.

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