Canada’s annual immigration intake is expected to decline in 2020 by half from last year’s levels as a result of the global pandemic, raising concerns over the impact on the country’s newcomer-fuelled economy.
Canada welcomed 341,000 permanent residents in 2019 and was set to usher in another 370,000 this year, but that number is forecast to be down by as many as 170,000, according to a RBC report released Friday.
First-quarter immigration data on arrivals all indicated drastic decreases in the number of permanent residents, migrant workers and international students.
“The disruption will reverberate across the economy, given our reliance on immigration for labour-force growth and to offset Canada’s aging demographic,” warned the analysis by RBC senior economist Andrew Agopsowicz.
“Among the potential casualties: industries with labour shortages, urban rental and housing markets, and university budgets. Canada will need a younger and growing population to maintain growth and support the unprecedented expansion of the fiscal deficit that came in response to the crisis.”
In March, Ottawa had set a target to bring in 370,000 new permanent residents this year, up from 341,000 in 2019. Just days after the announcement, concerns about the spread of COVID-19 prompted the federal government to impose travel restrictions.
Although these health and safety measures only started in Canada in mid-March, the impacts of the pandemic on immigration had already been felt in other parts of the world, resulting in the disruption of visa services and travels