Canada’s Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino participated in a Q&A session discussing how the coronavirus pandemic will affect Canada's immigration system in the coming months and years.
Immigration Levels: Canada will remain open to immigrants after COVID-19
“Immigration will absolutely be key to our success and our economic recovery,” Mendicino said.
“We continue to rely on immigration, it will be an economic driver and this will be the North Star of our policy going forward.”
Mendicino observed that COVID-19 will not change Canada’s long-term demographic trends. Canada’s worker-to-retiree ratio is declining, which means that the country will continue to need immigrants to drive economic growth.
He also noted that this is not the first time Canada has faced a pandemic and economic challenges, however, Canada has continued to grow in spite of such challenges thanks in part to welcoming immigrants.
The minister said the federal government will consult with stakeholders on the future of Canada’s intake levels in advance of its annual immigration levels plan announcement this fall.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) staff are working remotely which is impacting the department’s ability to process immigration applications. Nonetheless, IRCC has setup remote operations to enable its staff to access the tools they need to facilitate processing. This period has enabled IRCC to innovate and improve its processing in some regards. For example, IRCC has been able to expedite the processing of seasonal agricultural workers under its Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
International Students: Minister hints at more flexibility
The minister stated that IRCC is extremely grateful to various stakeholders who have provided feedback on how the federal government can adjust its international student policies in response to the pandemic. He noted IRCC’s recent Post-Graduation Work Permit reform which enables international students who take online courses to remain eligible for the PGWP.
IRCC remains in consultations with post-secondary stakeholders on how it can help international students that will be enrolling in Canadian designated learning institutions during the September intake period, which is typically when most international students begin their programs in Canada. The minister said “stay tuned” for more information.