Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented incredible challenges to economies around the world. Here in Canada, nearly three million jobs were lost in spring 2020, and the country’s GDP dropped by 17%.
The road to recovery has been long and Canada’s economy continues to adjust to the unprecedented effects in global economic activity. The future, however, is looking bright.
The average unemployment rate is currently at 6.5% across the country, down from an all-time high of just over 13% in spring 2020. Canada’s GDP has returned to near pre-pandemic levels. In its January World Economic Outlook, the IMF forecasts that Canada will have the second-fastest GDP growth out of the G7 this year and the fastest GDP growth in 2023.
British Columbia is leading the way with a strong economic start to 2022.
The province has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 5.3%, and employment is 102.1% above pre-pandemic levels, among the highest in the country. A recent report from Ontario’s Financial Accountability Officer showed that the province’s labour market has also rebounded to pre-pandemic levels.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Government of Canada has put a number of programs in place to support individuals and families, businesses and communities facing hardship as a result of the pandemic.
To further bolster the country’s economic recovery, Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship recently announced measures to modernize the immigration system and the 2022-2024 Immigration Levels Plan, which charts a plan for immigration that will help the Canadian economy recover and fuel post-pandemic growth.
Immigration is the engine of Canada’s economy, helping to address labour shortages and keep communities thriving.
“Immigration has helped shape Canada into the country it is today. From farming and fishing to manufacturing, healthcare and the transportation sector, Canada relies on immigrants,” Fraser said. “We are focused on economic recovery, and immigration is the key to getting there. Setting bold new immigration targets, as outlined in the 2022-2024 Levels Plan, will further help bring the immeasurable contribution of immigrants to our communities and across all sectors of the economy.”
Last year, Canada welcomed more than 405,000 new permanent residents – the most immigrants in a single year in the nation’s history. Despite having regained many of the jobs lost during the pandemic, there are still hundreds of thousands of positions in all sectors waiting to be filled. Immigration already accounts for almost 100% of labour force growth in Canada, and with five million Canadians set to retire by the end of the decade, the worker to retiree ratio will drop to 3:1.
To ensure Canada has the workers it needs to fill labour market gaps and support a strong economy into the future, the 2022-2024 Immigration Levels Plan aims to continue welcoming immigrants at a rate of about 1% of Canada’s population, including 431,645 permanent residents in 2022, 447,055 in 2023 and 451,000 in 2024.
To support increased immigration levels, the Government of Canada recently announced a plan to modernize Canada’s immigration system with new funding to return to processing service standards in various programs, including study permits, work permits and permanent resident cards, by the end of the year.
“I know that processing delays have been incredibly frustrating for many individuals. Helping clients come to Canada quickly, with predictable processing times and efficient communication with IRCC, remains a top priority for me,” Minister Fraser said in making the announcement earlier this year.
“Immigration benefits all Canadians—it helps grow our economy and strengthens our communities across the country. Many people are choosing Canada as the place to visit and build their future, and to ensure that we stay competitive, we have introduced concrete measures to make sure those who want to come to Canada have the client experience they deserve.”