Ministers responsible for immigration meet to jointly plan for the future of immigration in Canada amid COVID-19
July 24, 2020 — The Forum of Ministers Responsible for Immigration met virtually today to talk about the role of immigration at this unprecedented moment in Canadian history. Immigration was a Canadian advantage before the pandemic, immigrants are helping Canadians through the pandemic right now and immigration will be critical to Canada’s economic recovery. The federal, provincial and territorial ministers agreed to continue building a strong immigration system Canadians value and trust.
Ministers committed to advancing shared immigration priorities and enhancing Canada’s immigration policies and programs by endorsing the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Strategic Plan for Immigration 2020-2023. This plan sets out a vision for immigration, highlighting how newcomers contribute to building vibrant communities and an inclusive and prosperous Canada, supported by a robust and responsive immigration system.
Ministers commended the “Team Canada” response to COVID-19, supporting a flexible immigration system focused on meeting critical labour market needs, specifically in the agriculture sector, and ensuring continued delivery of essential services for newcomers, while noting the challenges and steps that have been taken to ensure the health and well-being of temporary foreign workers. Federal, provincial and territorial governments have collectively taken action to ensure the health and safety of temporary foreign workers and other vulnerable newcomers, and it will continue to be a top priority.
Ministers reaffirmed the importance of newcomers, particularly international students, in keeping the economy and Canada’s communities moving forward. Immigration drives economic and demographic growth, which are vital to Canada’s economic recovery and long-term success. While Canada’s ability to receive and successfully integrate newcomers is affected in the short term, long-term drivers for responsible increases to immigration levels remain.
Ministers also discussed the challenges of attracting newcomers to communities outside of major urban centres across Canada. Ministers agreed on the importance of advancing regional economic immigration objectives and acknowledged the proven success and the strong track record of Provincial Nominee Programs to distribute the benefits of immigration across Canada and federal pilots to address targeted regional (Atlantic) and local (Rural/Northern) gaps. Recognizing that immigration is a shared jurisdiction, ministers referenced the development of a new Municipal Nominee Program, and agreed that continued collaboration is needed to enable a coordinated immigration response to community and labour market needs while supporting the ongoing success of Provincial Nominee Programs.
Note: As requested by the Government of Quebec, the Quebec minister responsible for immigration holds observer status at the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers’ Table. Under the Canada-Québec Accord, Quebec assumes sole responsibility for establishing immigration levels, and for the selection, francization and integration of immigrants. In areas under its responsibility, Quebec develops its policies and programs, and legislates, regulates and sets its own standards.
“Throughout Canada’s response to COVID-19, immigration has played a vital role. Not only is immigration helping to deliver food, fuel and health supplies, it is also going to be key to our long-term economic recovery. We advanced that goal at today’s federal-provincial-territorial meeting through our ongoing collaboration on a number of priorities, including how best to recruit skilled workers, attract international students and enhance regional immigration. Together, we will continue welcoming newcomers to ensure we build a nation that is diverse, prosperous and strong.”
– The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
“Although we’ve had a disruption this year due to COVID-19, now is the time, more than ever, to work together to attract, welcome and retain new Canadians. Federal-provincial-territorial collaboration remains strong, with provinces and territories further examining the benefits and ways forward for economic immigration in our regions. Together, we can grow into an even more prosperous country where newcomers and their families can settle, succeed and contribute to our communities.”
–The Honourable Trevor Holder, Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour and provincial-territorial co-chair of the Forum of Ministers responsible for Immigration