Canada’s immigration ministers see immigration as a crucial step in supporting the country’s economic recovery from the coronavirus. Ministers responsible for immigration met online Friday, July 24 to discuss the impacts of the coronavirus on Canada’s immigration system.
Canada has ten provinces and three territories. Each province and territory other than Nunavut has a bilateral agreement with the federal government. Bilateral agreements allow provinces and territories to manage their own immigration programs to welcome economy class immigrants.
In addition to these agreements, the two levels of government hold regular meetings like this most recent one to discuss current immigration issues and plan for the future. On Friday, ministers agreed to move forward with a “strong immigration system”.
Factors on federal-provincial immigration collaboration
Section 95 of the Constitution Act, 1867 defines immigration as a shared federal-provincial jurisdiction, with federal law prevails.
Immigration was described as an area of shared jurisdiction when Canada was founded because of its importance in supporting economic growth and the security of the country’s top four provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario.
In the first years after Confederation, the federal government and the provinces met to discuss how to attract more immigrants to Canada.
In fact, the first federal-provincial conference on immigration was held in 1868, and the following year the federal government passed the very first immigration law to Canada, in 1869. Today, the main Canadian immigration law is the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).
Provincial involvement in immigration declined over the next century as the federal government managed the space. This changed at the end of the 1960s when Quebec wanted more autonomy to be able to welcome more French-speaking immigrants.
In the 1990s, the other provinces and territories of Canada also sought greater autonomy in immigration in order to attract immigrants to meet the needs of their labor market due to their aging populations and their small size. birth-rate. This led to the launch of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
Since 2003, ministers responsible for immigration have met every year during the longest period in Canadian history when the two levels of government formally came together at one table to shape immigration policy. These meetings are very likely to continue, given their shared constitutional authority and the common interest of both levels of government in welcoming more immigrants.
What was the discussion in the meeting?
In addition to discussing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the immigration system, ministers discussed the planning of immigration levels and regional economic immigration. They considered approving the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Immigration Strategic Plan 2020-2023, which would outline their immigration priorities during this period.
International students have been identified as the primary drivers of economic and population growth, which are important to Canada’s economic recovery and long-term success.
While current travel restrictions hamper Canada’s ability to welcome new immigrants in the short term, the long-term drivers of increases in the level of immigration remain. Canada continues to experience labor shortages in multiple sectors and faces an aging population along with a low birth rate. Immigration is essential to ensure that Canada maintains positive population growth and fills labor market gaps.
Ministers also agreed to continue working together to develop a new Municipal Nominee Program as Canada continues to struggle to attract newcomers to small towns.
The PNP is an example of immigration programs tailored to the needs of specific regions of Canada. Canada also has federal immigration pilots that target regional and local labor market gaps, such as the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot.
The date of the next meeting has not been determined, a representative of the forum of ministers told CIC News, however, based on precedents, the next meeting is expected to take place in the fall. This would be shortly before the announcement of new immigration levels for 2021-2023.
What does the meeting mean for immigrants?
The frequent meetings between the two levels of government help explain why Canada has such a strong and efficient immigration system. As was the case in 1867, Canada today is a very diverse country with different economic and social conditions in each province and territory. Integrating the perspectives of various constituents into the immigration system enables Canada to leverage immigration to benefit as many parts of the country as possible.
Minister Mendicino has repeatedly underscored the federal government’s commitment to welcoming global talent from all corners of the world throughout the pandemic.
The actions of the federal government and the provinces speak louder than words.
Throughout the pandemic, both levels of government continued to welcome immigrants through Express Entry and PNP in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia as well as by the Quebec network.
At the next meeting between ministers, they will have to reassess how the pandemic is likely to affect the immigration system in 2021 and beyond. The future remains uncertain for the time being due to the pandemic. What is clear, however, is that the pandemic has not negatively impacted the desire of federal and provincial governments to keep Canada’s immigration system open and welcoming.
“Although we have had a disruption this year due to COVID-19, now is more than ever the time to work together to attract, welcome and retain new Canadians,” Trevor Holder, Forum of Ministers Co-Chair Responsible for immigration, said in a press release. Holder, who is also the minister responsible for immigration for New Brunswick, added, “Together we can become an even more prosperous country where newcomers and their families can settle, succeed and contribute to our communities. “