With the significant exception of Indigenous people, all Canadians originally come from somewhere else. The story of immigration fills many chapters in the history of Canada—including the most recent one. To support Canada’s post-pandemic recovery and chart a more prosperous future, the Government of Canada set a target of welcoming 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, as part of the 2021–2023 Immigration Levels Plan.
The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced that Canada has reached its target and welcomed more than 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021. Surpassing the previous record from 1913, this is the most newcomers in a year in Canadian history.
This historic achievement is particularly significant in the face of the pandemic’s many challenges. From closed borders to domestic lockdowns, global migration has been upended by COVID-19. But the employees of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) rose to the occasion and processed a record half a million applications in 2021. To achieve this, IRCC added resources, embraced new technology and brought more processes online. These changes are all permanent improvements to Canada’s immigration system.
As we continue to struggle with the pandemic, we made the most of the talent already within our borders. The majority of these new permanent residents were already in Canada on temporary status. Most notably, we launched new programs to engage essential workers, health care professionals, international graduates and French-speaking newcomers. Family reunification is another pillar of our system, and we reunited spouses and children while enabling more families to sponsor parents and grandparents. Finally, with many countries closing their doors to refugees, we continued to offer the world’s most vulnerable shelter in Canada.
Canada needs immigration to drive our economy, enrich our society and support our aging population. One in 3 Canadian businesses is owned by an immigrant, and 1 in 4 health care workers is a newcomer. Business, labour market experts and economists all agree that immigration creates jobs, spurs innovation and helps address labour shortages. New Canadians contribute to communities across our country every day, and we will continue welcoming more of them as we build the Canada of tomorrow.