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Newcomers and international students important to Canada’s economic recovery

At a recent virtual meet, The Forum of Ministers Responsible for Immigration reaffirmed the importance of newcomers, particularly international students, in keeping the economy and Canada’s communities moving forward.

They noted that immigration drives economic and demographic growth, which are vital to Canada’s economic recovery and long-term success. While Canada’s ability to receive and successfully integrate newcomers is affected in the short term, long-term drivers for responsible increases to immigration levels remain.

The ministers also discussed the challenges of attracting newcomers to communities outside of major urban centres across Canada. They agreed on the importance of advancing regional economic immigration objectives and acknowledged the proven success and the strong track record of Provincial Nominee Programs to distribute the benefits of immigration across Canada and federal pilots to address targeted regional (Atlantic) and local (Rural/Northern) gaps. Recognizing that immigration is a shared jurisdiction, the ministers referenced the development of a new Municipal Nominee Program, and agreed that continued collaboration is needed to enable a coordinated immigration response to community and labour market needs while supporting the ongoing success of Provincial Nominee Programs.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said in a statement: “Immigration was a Canadian advantage before the pandemic, immigrants are helping Canadians through the pandemic right now and immigration will be critical to Canada’s economic recovery. The federal, provincial and territorial ministers agreed to continue building a strong immigration system Canadians value and trust.”

The ministers committed to advancing shared immigration priorities and enhancing Canada’s immigration policies and programs by endorsing the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Strategic Plan for Immigration 2020-2023. This plan sets out a vision for immigration, highlighting how newcomers contribute to building vibrant communities and an inclusive and prosperous Canada, supported by a robust and responsive immigration system.

The ministers commended the “Team Canada” response to COVID-19, supporting a flexible immigration system focused on meeting critical labour market needs, specifically in the agriculture sector, and ensuring continued delivery of essential services for newcomers, while noting the challenges and steps that have been taken to ensure the health and well-being of temporary foreign workers. Federal, provincial and territorial governments have collectively taken action to ensure the health and safety of temporary foreign workers and other vulnerable newcomers, and it will continue to be a top priority.

Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said: “Throughout Canada’s response to COVID-19, immigration has played a vital role. Not only is immigration helping to deliver food, fuel and health supplies, it is also going to be key to our long-term economic recovery. We advanced that goal at today’s federal-provincial-territorial meeting through our ongoing collaboration on a number of priorities, including how best to recruit skilled workers, attract international students and enhance regional immigration. Together, we will continue welcoming newcomers to ensure we build a nation that is diverse, prosperous and strong.”

Trevor Holder, Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour and provincial-territorial co-chair of the Forum of Ministers responsible for Immigration, noted: “Although we’ve had a disruption this year due to COVID-19, now is the time, more than ever, to work together to attract, welcome and retain new Canadians.”

It is clear that despite the economic upheaval facing Canada, immigration cannot be disrupted, there is too much at stake.

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