The year 2021 can certainly be defined as the “The Great Canadian Migration” with history being made when Canada officially welcomed 401 000 newcomers, the highest number of immigrants to the Great White North since 1913.
The historical moment was the result of an unusual strategy set out by the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) to fulfil the mandate set out by the Federal Government in October 2020, when it was announced that Canada intends to welcome 401 000 newcomers in 2021, 411 000 in 2022 and 421 000 in 2023, as an aide to compensate for the deficit in newcomers caused by COVID-19 and to ensure Canada has the workers it needs to fill crucial labour market gaps and remain competitive on the world stage – an increase of approximately 50 000 more immigrants per year, compared to the initial plan.
Despite the mammoth task and facing ongoing challenges and difficult circumstances – such as the COVID-19 pandemic; backlog of immigration applications; vaccination rates remaining low the start of 2021, travel restrictions and Canada’s public health measures – the IRCC came to the fore and exceed all expectations.
In a December 2021 news release by the IRCC, the recently elected immigration minister Sean Fraser stated “Last year (2020), we set an ambitious goal. Today, we achieved it. This is a historic moment for our country, as we welcome the highest number of newcomers in a century. I want to thank all the employees in my department, especially our Operations Sector, who made this possible. Canada is built on immigration, and we will continue to safely welcome the immigrants that Canada needs to succeed. I can’t wait to see the incredible contributions that our 401,000 new neighbours make in communities across the country.”
The goal was achieved by focusing on transitioning temporary residents living in Canada during the pandemic to permanent resident status through a technicality.
According to CIC News, “IRCC has been able to meet its Immigration Levels Plan target this  through a technicality. A landing can occur either by a temporary resident of Canada seeing their legal status change to permanent residence, or by them arriving to Canada from abroad and officially gaining permanent resident status. Prior to the pandemic, most new immigrants came from overseas. This year, however, IRCC has focused on transitioning those within the country to achieve its newcomer goal. The rationale has been those within Canada are less likely to be impacted by COVID-related disruptions that may impede their ability to land as a permanent resident.”
The first surprise strategy transpired in the first quarter of 2021, when in February the IRCC held a historical draw by inviting all of the 27 332 Express Entry candidates in the CEC (Canadian Experience Class) pool to apply for permanent residence, clearing out the entire pool and in May the IRCC launched six temporary streams enabling up to 90 000 essential workers and international graduates in Canada to apply for permanent residence.
To further achieve its objectives of 401 000 newcomers in 2021, the the start of the second half of the year IRCC had ramped up the process and was landing 35,000 permanent residents per month (mostly from within Canada) and by the end of the year, had surpassed 45,000 monthly landings.
According to the Canadian government website: “Immigration accounts for almost 100% of Canada’s labour force growth. Roughly 75% of Canada’s population growth comes from immigration, mostly in the economic category. By 2036, immigrants will represent up to 30% of Canada’s population, compared with 20.7% in 2011.