Federal government aiming to shrink temporary residents’ share of population by 2027

Immigration Minister Marc Miller said Thursday the federal government is looking to shrink temporary residents’ share of Canada’s population over the next three years.

Miller said temporary residents made up 6.2 per cent of Canada’s population in 2023 and the government is working to reduce that share to 5 per cent by 2027. That would mean a decrease in the temporary resident population of roughly 19 per cent, he said.

“This is not a historical low, driving it down by 19 per cent, but it is something that has to be done well,” he said.

“It’s a reasonable goal, I think it’s relatively ambitious, but its something we have to crystallize over the next three years.”

WATCH | Ottawa plans to trim the number of temporary foreign workers:

Canada intends to reduce population share of temporary residents

Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced plans to reduce the share of temporary residents living in Canada from 6.2 to five per cent. But while some suggest it could ease the housing shortage, it could also hurt businesses.

Ottawa will for the first time include temporary residents in its annual immigration levels plan, which is expected to be released in the fall.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will be conducting a review of the government’s temporary work permit programs in an effort to “better align with labour market needs,” Miller said.

“Canada’s future economic vibrancy depends on those we bring in today, whether we like that or not,” he added.

Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault said that as of May 1, the government will be shrinking the amount of temporary foreign workers that employers in certain sectors are allowed to hire.

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The federal government rolled out temporary measures in April 2022 allowing employers in the accommodation and food service sector, among other sectors facing labour shortages, to hire up to 30 per cent of their workforce through the Temporary Foreign Worker program for low-wage positions.

Boissonnault said Thursday the cap will be cut down to 20 per cent for most sectors. The construction and health care sectors will continue to be allowed to hire up to 30 per cent of their workers through the program. Seasonal industries, such as agriculture, fishing and tourism, are exempted from a cap during their peak seasons.

Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages Minister Randy Boissonnault listens to a question as he speaks with reporters in the Foyer of the House of Commons, Monday, February 5, 2024 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The government also will make changes to its labour market impact assessments (LMIA) application program. Employers looking to hire a foreign worker are required to apply for an LMIA.

But Boissonnault said new LMIAs issued will only apply for six months, instead of the current time limit of one year. The government will place more stringent requirements on employers to prove they’ve exhausted local options — including hiring asylum seekers with valid work permits.

“The temporary foreign worker program is a last resort. We expect businesses and business owners to exhaust every option and work to prioritize workers here in Canada before applying for temporary foreign workers,” Boissonnault said.

The government announced a two-year cap on international student permits in January.

Miller said that the cap on international students will contribute to the 5 per cent target.

“We are just now starting to get some control over the student category, which is a very large part of that,” he said.

Miller said he will convene a meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts in May to discuss the five per cent reduction target.

In December, Statistics Canada said the country’s population grew by more than 430,000 during the third quarter of 2023, marking the fastest pace of population growth in any quarter since 1957.

That rise was fuelled by international migration, including about 313,000 non-permanent residents who came to the country from July to September.

StatsCan says those non-permanent residents were mostly people who held work and study permits, and to a lesser extent refugee claimants.

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