While some countries are easing up Covid 19 restrictions, Canada is still experiencing lockdown in most provinces. Except for essential services, the most economy remains shut as the government tries to bring down the number of active Covid cases. Unemployment is at an all-time high, and the immigrant community is suffering the most. From financial difficulty to visa expiry issues, their hardships knows no bounds. The pandemic that struck in 2019 becomes more prominent in 2021 the Canadian government is focused on reviving their economy.
Canada is a large country with a relatively smaller native population. Hence when the rest of the world closes its border for immigrants, Canada moves towards more straightforward citizenship procedures. With a falling birthrate, immigrants will be key in increasing job opportunities and reviving the economy. Canada is planning to welcome more than 400,000 immigrants into the country over the next three years. This ambitious plan will be fueled by the large overseas student community pursuing higher education in Canada. They are also going to be the first country to implement full online citizenship ceremonies from 2021.
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The covid situation in Canada and government response plan
Prime minister of Canada Justin Trudeau has announced a second wave of covid 19 in the country. British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec are seeing the highest increase in the number of new cases. The healthcare system is trying its best to treat patients and cannot handle more strain. Hence strict lockdown measures have been implemented in most cities. Shops and non-essential businesses are closed, and public gatherings have been banned until further notice. With over 9000 total deaths and daily new cases over a thousand, the lockdown measures are critically necessary to the government’s fightback plan.
The economic impact of Covid 19 has almost been four times worse than the 2009 financial crisis. The government, in its addresses, has promised to help the citizens through these difficult times. There will be a clear plan to revive the economy, focusing on creating more than a million jobs and helping small businesses over the next few years. The wage support program for workers and child care programs for working women will also be implemented soon. The immigrant community, which is the backbone of the Canadian economy, will also be taken care of. Visa extensions for students, more straightforward points method to get a work visa and quicker citizenship procedures will help integrate immigrants into Canadian society.
Mendicino’s address to the immigrant community of Canada
In his interview on The Agenda, the Immigration Minister of Canada Marco Mendicino announced key decisions of the government regarding immigrants. The new policies are aimed at facilitating citizenship to immigrants and enhancing opportunities for them. He emphasized three main plans: Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023, Canadian citizenship, and Municipal Nominee Program. All the plans play a key role in the smooth integration of foreigners into Canada. After the pandemic, immigrants will play a key role in reviving the job market. So the government has decided to facilitate large scale immigration in the next couple of years—certainly, the largest in the nation’s history.
Mendicino highlighted that the IRCC or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has been innovating over the last year to adapt to new conditions. His hope for the future is an entirely virtual process of citizenship procedure that is quick and seamless. In the new age of AI and machine learning, nothing is impossible. The first step towards this, online citizenship ceremonies, has already started. The immigration minister hopes to waive off citizenship fees, which is stated in his mandate letter.
The majority of Canadian immigrants are from India, Pakistan, China, and other southeast Asian countries. Still, the count of international students from these countries looking to study and settle in Canada continues to be high. Most of these immigrants are clustered in a few provinces and mainly in urban areas. Through the Municipal Nominee Program, the government hopes to welcome immigrants into the heartlands of their country. The Atlantic Immigration Pilot and Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot will facilitate immigrant families to settle into smaller towns. The Immigration Ministry’s wishful targets will also be met by the existing pool of refugees and international students.
Other immigration policies likely to take effect in 2021
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has set high targets in his new mandate to the Immigration Minister. Canada is hoping to bring more than 400,000 immigrants onboard as per its Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan. The Covid 19 situation has led to some changes to the 2019 mandate. Through various pilot programs, the government looks forward to attracting refugees from different economic and ethnic backgrounds. Also, there will be necessary residence programs for foreign workers looking to settle in Canada. The new mandate is nothing but more good news for immigrants working towards their Canadian citizenship.
The international student community is fueling progress in all sectors of the Canadian economy. Be it as front line medical professionals or Tech giants leading innovation. A diverse student community is an asset for any country. Canada plans to tap into its valuable resource of hundreds of thousands of international students pursuing higher education in Canada. The PGWP or post-graduation work permit extension has been a great relief for immigrant students on the brink of being deported. The 18-month extension will hopefully act as a supplement for the many months wasted in lockdown. As unemployment soars high and businesses close down, students find it challenging to complete their permanent residency obligations. So we can say that the extension has come at the right time.
We can hope to see more additions to these policies that will help the Canadian government meet its high immigration targets. With travel restrictions across borders and a deadly pandemic, these targets can seem unrealistic but are achievable in the long run. Through immigration, the government wishes to increase jobs, the percentage of working age people, and revive the process.