The COVID-19 pandemic has been putting relentless pressure on the Canadian economy since mid-March 2020.

Aside from the initial shock wave created when the TSX crashed to its lowest point since 1940, countless industries are still feeling the burn more than 10 months later. Event venues continue to sit lifeless, airports remain largely empty, and half of all Canadian dining establishments are at risk of slipping under.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has also been strained during this time. With processing centres either completely shut down or staffed by a significantly reduced workforce throughout the pandemic, the approval process has been lagging behind.

That being said, IRCC has continued to process permanent resident applications and hold Express Entry draws, in part to maintain the flow of skilled workers into Canada. Our economic recovery might just depend on it.

Coping with an Aging Population

The face of Canada’s workforce is changing. According to a recent StatsCan study, there were 2.7 workers aged 25 to 34 for every 55-and-up worker in 1996 – more than enough to replace people who were on their way to retirement. By 2018, though, that ratio had declined to 1.0.

// It is clear that native Canadians alone will not be able to fill the growing labour gap.

True to its name, the exceptionally populous Baby Boomer cohort has already started to retire, and the youngest members will turn 65 in 2031. Given how swiftly and significantly the “new worker to retiree” ratio has fallen in just over two decades, it is clear that native Canadians alone will not be able to fill the growing labour gap.

Skilled Labour Shortages

At this point, it’s a known fact that Canada is in the midst of a skilled labour shortage; a staggering 39% of small- and medium-sized businesses across the country have experienced difficulty finding employees to fill certain roles. Not only is this issue directly linked to slower sales growth (since owners must spend more time “on the ground” instead of hunting for new business), but these companies often end up overworking their staff thin in order to cover their bases.

Immigration may just be the pressure release valve that these businesses need, since many foreign nationals who settle in Canada bring with them a robust academic background. In fact, immigrants are more likely to hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree than native Canadians: while 24% of Canadians have their bachelor’s the same is true for 39.5% of immigrants. For master’s degrees, the ratio is 5% to 11.3%.

qualified worker working on a computer

// Immigration may just be the pressure release valve that these businesses need, since many foreign nationals who settle in Canada bring with them a robust academic background.

Canada’s New Plan

The federal government is well aware of Canada’s labour struggles, and it has already started putting a plan in motion to address these market gaps.

One of the plan’s pillars focuses on introducing a constant stream of new workforce participants: the government expects that the most important source of new labour will be recent graduates who are looking to start their careers, alongside a strong foundation of immigrant labour.

Projections show that by 2026, the gap between people leaving the workforce due to retirement or death and people joining the workforce as graduates or immigrants will be a wide one – in a good way. The outflow of labour is estimated to be around 484,000 people, while the inflow is expected to hover around 659,000.

In a release that explores the plan in-depth, the government highlighted its goal of fulfilling labour needs by accepting a steady flow of newcomers. Between 2021 and 2023, the plan aims to accept immigrants at a rate of about 1% of the population of Canada, including 401,000 permanent residents in 2021. It also aims to:

  • Accept more newcomers over the next 3 years to compensate for 2020’s immigration slowdown
  • Aim for 60% of admissions to come from Economic Class applications
  • Admit up to 500 refugees over 2 years through the Economic Mobility Pathways Project, which helps qualified refugees apply for permanent residence

Canada needs immigrants more than ever

Connect with an attorney at Exeo to learn more about which pathway to immigration is best for you. The government is making a concerted effort to bring more skilled workers into Canada, so if you have a strong academic or professional background, now’s the time to make your move!

While that may sound simple enough, just like any other path to immigration, applying for the QIIP requires a fair amount of documentation to be completed in a very precise manner. If a candidate submits incomplete or incorrect documentation, they risk having their application rejected and starting over from scratch.

The best way to make sure you get it right the first time is to have a professional on your side. All of Exeo’s attorneys are highly experienced in economic immigration, and partnering with us will ensure that all of your documentation is complete, accurate, and most importantly, on time.

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