The Harper government is changing the mix of immigrants it plans to admit to the country over the next year.
While the overall target for permanent residents will remain between 240,000 and 265,000, the government will seek to admit more children and spouses through the family class and fewer economic migrants. The annual number of economic class immigrants selected for their job skills will drop by 5,000 to 6,000 while the number of family class immigrants will go up by between 1,500 and 2,500.
“Canada’s postrecession economy demands a high level of legal immigration to keep our work force strong,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said in a statement. “At the same time, we are maintaining our commitment to family reunification and refugees.”
In 2009, Canada admitted 252,179 immigrants as permanent residents plus 178,478 temporary foreign workers and 85,140 students. The annual report to Parliament states that the number of foreign workers decreased by 7% as a reaction to the recession and lower demand for foreign workers, while the number of foreign students increased by 7%.
Between 2004 and 2008, the number of foreign workers grew by 71% from 82,151 to 192,519.
NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow blasted the government for what she sees as an unacceptably high level of temporary foreign workers.
“Instead of continuing the destructive trend of bringing in 178,478 temporary workers to Canada each year, the Conservatives should allow for even more families to join their loved ones in Canada,” Chow told QMI Agency.
Kenney said the immigration department doesn’t set out to bring so many foreign workers to Canada each year, but instead responds to the demands of businesses who can’t find workers. In order to be given permission to bring in temporary foreign workers, businesses must show that they have advertised the job and cannot find Canadians who can fill the position.
“Within five years, there will be no growth in the Canadian labour market,” Kenney said while defending the level of immigration. “You cannot pay for our pensions, our health care and all the services Canadians want with a shrinking tax base.”
Kenney said that leaves Canadians with two options, accept higher immigration levels or have more children.