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Canada’s federal Immigration Minister, Marco Mendicino, has stressed on the essential role played by immigrants to keep the country afloat during the current global health crisis. He said that the contribution made by immigrants during this trying period explains why Canada immigration must continue robustly, even after the pandemic is over.

In March, while travel restrictions related to COVID-19 were being imposed across the country, Mendicino released the 2020-22 Immigration Levels Plan, announcing that Canada would be welcoming 341,000 new immigrants in 2020, 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022. These figures indicate a record high in the number of foreign nationals obtaining temporary or permanent residence in Canada annually.

Immigrant intake is essential to fulfill chronic labor shortages in certain economic sectors. However, since unemployment in Canada has risen due to the economic impact of the pandemic, the prescribed immigration levels may no longer be feasible. Updated immigration levels will be announced in the fall.

The economic crisis has put a spotlight on the nature of work performed by people who immigrate to Canada. Mendicino emphasized that many frontline services – especially in healthcare and food industries – are provided by immigrants, which is why immigration must be sustained in a measured manner, after global travel restrictions are lifted.

While a new permanent residence pathway has been opened for people working in livestock-raising, mushroom and greenhouse production, and meat processing; some immigration programs have been put on hold due to border closures. International students who are taking online classes due to lockdowns can still qualify for post-graduate work permits.

Most Canada immigration programs are continuing to accept and process applications despite the pandemic, and new permanent residence pathways may be created for temporary foreign workers. Canada is making informed efforts to strike an ideal balance between prioritizing the well-being of its domestic population, and welcoming immigrants through liberal policies.

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