Canada announces 2024 – 2026 Immigration Targets and Plan to Strengthen the Canadian Immigration System
2024 – 2026 Immigration Levels Plan
On November 1, 2023, the federal government announced its 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan. The plan maintains new permanent resident admissions at 485,000 for 2024, with an increases to 500,000 new admissions for 2025 and 2026. According to the news release, by stabilizing immigration levels, the government aims to ensure successful integration of new immigrants and reunification of families; balance immigration with housing, healthcare, infrastructure and other services; and support sustainable economic and population growth.
Immigration targets have continuously increased in recent years, with a record number of permanent residents admitted in 2021 and 2022, at 405,000 and 431,645 respectively. In comparison, Canada welcomed 260,411 new immigrants in 2014, with an annual target between 260,000 to 285,000 for the following year.
While targets have changed over the years, what has remained consistent is the government’s focus on economic class immigration, with 60% of the annual target allocated for admissions of permanent residents who will gain permanent residency primarily through the federal Express Entry system, Provincial Nominee Program, and economic pilot programs. Express Entry qualifies candidates under the Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades programs while assigning a score based on skills, education, language ability, work experience and other economic factors. The Provincial Nominee Program allows provinces to develop and manage their own programs, most of which target their provincial labour and community needs. Currently, there are multiple economic pilot programs, including Caregivers Pilot, Agri-Food Pilot, Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, and Economic Mobility Pathways Project.
One notable change to Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan is the focus on increasing Francophone immigration to Canada. While the target of 6%, 7% and 8% for 2024 to 2026 sounds modest, we have already seen the government conduct targeted invitations to 7,700 Express Entry candidates who have a high French language proficiency to apply for permanent residency in the last few months. This is part of the government’s introduction of category-based invitations under Express Entry on June 28th, 2023.
Other immigration class targets include Family Class at 24% of the annual permanent residency admissions for each year and humanitarian admissions at 19% for 2024, declining to 16% by 2026. It is possible we see the humanitarian admissions change each year as Canada responds to the different crises around the world, both current and future.
An Immigration System for Canada’s Future
The government also released a report, An Immigration System for Canada’s Future, outlining plans to strengthen Canada’s immigration system. The report lists multiple goals and associated actions to improve the immigration experience, service standards and processing times, while taking a holistic approach to supporting immigration to Canada by looking at the impacts on and needs of housing, health care, infrastructure and other services.
We welcome the anticipated improvements outlined in the report, and look forward to the government engaging more with employers, associations, institutions and communities in developing Canada’s immigration system in the years ahead.