Immigration to Canada Likely to Rebound as Labour Market Improves and Economy Recovers

Immigration to Canada is expected to quickly rebound in the second half of this year as the labour market roars back to life and stringent COVID-19 public health restrictions are relaxed.

That’s particularly good news for those hoping to come to Canada under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, or the provinces’ economic and business class of programs under the Provincial Nominee Programs.

The latest positive indicators for the Canadian economy came in the June Labour Force Survey released on Friday, June 9.

“As economic restrictions across much of Canada began to ease, the labour market responded with solid employment gains concentrated in sectors where the restrictions have been most punishing,” wrote Liam Daly, an economist with the Conference Board of Canada.

“Improvements in several high-contact service industries drove growth in part-time employment and provided welcome job growth among young and female workers,” wrote Daly. “As measures continue to ease, the stage is set for an acceleration in the labour market recovery over the coming months.”

The Canadian economic think-tank notes employment in Canada is now within 1.8 per cent of its pre-pandemic levels.

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Employment Rises By 230,000

“June’s labour force survey showed a labour market rebounding, in which total employment rose by 230,000,” wrote Daley. “The reopening of the economy underway across Canada suggests the labour market has reached an inflection point moving beyond the third wave and into a period of recovery marked by rising employment among some of the hardest-hit industries in the economy, such as high-contact service industries.”

During the pandemic, tough travel restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 caused Canada’s population growth rate to slow to a trickle, highlighting the importance of immigration to the country.

Canadian population estimates for the fourth quarter 2020 were released by Statistics Canada in March this year. They showed the massive impact of the pandemic on Canadian population growth through the slowing down of immigration.

“International migration has accounted for more than three-quarters of the total population growth since 2016, reaching 85.7 per cent in 2019,” the report stated.

“Following border and travel restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 in March 2020, this percentage fell to 58 per cent. Population increase through international migration in 2020 was over 80 per cent lower than it was in 2019.”

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Ottawa Stayed Bullish On Immigration Throughout Pandemic

Throughout the pandemic, though, Ottawa remained bullish on immigration and increased its immigration targets to keep the country’s population growth going.

Under Ottawa’s new plan, Canada is planning to welcome more than 1.2 million newcomers between 2021 and 2023 with 401,000 new permanent residents to Canada this year, 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023. 

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the previous plan set targets of 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022.

“Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth,” said Mendicino. “Canadians have seen how newcomers are playing an outsized role in our hospitals and care homes, and helping us to keep food on the table.

“As we look to recovery, newcomers create jobs not just by giving our businesses the skills they need to thrive, but also by starting businesses themselves,” he said. “Our plan will help to address some of our most acute labour shortages and to grow our population to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.”

With border restrictions curbing international travel, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched several new streams to boost immigration numbers and moved towards a fully-digital, online process to speed up the processing of applications.

Labour Force Grows With Canadians Looking For Work Again

In addition to stronger employment figures, there are other signs of growing confidence in the labour market. 

In its June Labour Force Survey, the statistical analysis branch of the Canadian government reported that almost 170,000 workers entered the labour force in June, pulling the participation rate up to 65.2 per cent, its highest level since the onset of the pandemic.

Canadians are looking for work again because they see the risk of COVID-19 in the country has dropped as vaccination programs hit their targets and public health restrictions are lifted.

Employment in June rose in Quebec by 72,300, in Ontario by 116,900, in British Columbia by 42,100, and in Nova Scotia 13,800.

“These gains outweighed declines in Saskatchewan of 1,200, in Manitoba of 6,400, and in Prince Edward Island of 1,400,” wrote Daly. “In the remaining provinces, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Alberta, employment remained essentially flat.”

The trend strongly suggests the Canadian economy is moving towards a full recovery.

“As vaccination rates continue to rise there is reason to expect an improving picture in the months ahead as provinces are able to escape the cycle of tightening and easing restrictions and instead sustain progress towards a full reopening,” wrote Daly.

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