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Canada aims for 1 million+ new permanent residents in 2021 to 2023

Canada’s immigration levels plan for 2021–2023. Canada aims for 1 million+ permanent residents in 2021 to 2023 and is actively rolling out new immigration programs and enhancing its immigration applications intake process and processing timelines to boost foreigners immigration to Canada.

The government of Canada continues to emphasize that immigration is the cornerstone of Canada’s plan to get the economy moving again and accelerate recovery from the devastating economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

In October 2020, the government of Canada announced dramatic increases to Canada’s immigration levels for 2021 to 2023, to boost its economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Canada aims to welcome more than 1.2 million newcomers between 2021 and 2023: 401,000 newcomers in 2021, another 411,000 in 2022, and 421,000 in 2023.

Canada’s 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan was necessary after a turbulent 2020 in which immigration to Canada plummeted due to the COVID-19 crisis. International travel has been severely restricted since March 2020, and the border with the U.S. closed, resulting in severe drops in the levels of new Canadian permanent residents.

To compensate for the huge shortfall in immigration in 2020 due to the pandemic, Canada’s immigration levels plan for 2021–2023 is targeting the most ambitious immigration levels plan in its history. The only time Canada welcomed over 400,000 immigrants in a year was in 1913, when it admitted 401,000 newcomers. It has never come close to this figure again.

Canada’s immigration levels plan for 2021–2023 is an immigration solution bailout for the economic impact of the pandemic:

The pandemic has highlighted the contribution of immigrants to the well-being of our communities and across all sectors of the economy. Our health-care system relies on immigrants to keep Canadians safe and healthy. Other industries, such as information technology companies and our farmers and producers, also rely on the talent of newcomers to maintain supply chains, expand their businesses and, in turn, create more jobs for Canadians.

2021‒2023 Immigration Levels Plan

Canada’s immigration levels plan for 2021–2023 – the plan forward

Canada’s immigration levels plan for 2021–2023 sets out a path for responsible increases to the number of immigrants to help the Canadian economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic and lay the foundation for future growth. Highlights of the plan include:

  • A focus on how immigration can help our economy, with approximately 60 per cent of immigrants to be chosen under economic immigration programs
  • A continued focus on innovative approaches where communities and businesses are encouraged to work together to welcome immigrants in communities across the country to help meet worker shortages
  • A renewed commitment to improve the processing of immigration applications, including spousal applications, by maximizing digital solutions
  • An increase in admissions over the three years of the plan to make up the shortfall in 2020
  • Additional points for French-speaking candidates under Express Entry, to promote the growth of Francophone communities outside of Quebec
  • A commitment to admit up to 500 refugees over the next 2 years through the Economic Mobility Pathways Project, an innovative approach that helps qualified refugees apply for permanent residence through existing economic immigration pathways
  • A pathway to permanent residency for eligible asylum claimants who were working on the front lines of the pandemic between March 13 and August 14, 2020, providing direct care to patients in health-care institutions.

A report by the Royal Bank of Canada warns that Canada’s immigration levels plan for 2021–2023 may fail to hit immigration targets for a second straight year as COVID-19 pandemic-related border restrictions remain in place.

Nevertheless Canada continues to aggressively roll out new immigration programs and enhancing the immigration application processes in order to meet its targeted immigration levels.

For example, on April 14, 2021, Canada launched six new temporary programs – Canada’s new 2021 PR programs – for 90,000 temporary workers and international graduates to become permanent residents in 2021. The move is part of the initiatives to reach the federal government target of 401,000 newcomers this year, despite pandemic-related travel restrictions. See Canada to give PR to 90,000 essential workers and international graduates in 2021.

Canada has also significantly ramped up the number of invitations issued for Canadian permanent residency applications via its very popular Canada Express Entry random draws.

Examples of efforts towards Canada’s immigration levels plan for 2021–2023

Canada invites 6,000 CEC candidates for PR in June 10 Express Entry draw

Canada invites 500 PNP candidates for permanent residence in May 26 Express Entry drawCanada reinforces immigration is priority for economic recovery from COVID-19

Canada invites 4,626 CEC candidates in January 21 Express Entry draw

Canada invites 374 PNP candidates in January 20 Express Entry draw

Immigration plans delivery for Canada’s immigration levels plan for 2021–2023

To deliver on these increased Canada immigration plans the government is committed to modernizing the system that supports application processing for immigration and future citizens – the Global Case Management System – moving away from its current cumbersome paper-based system to a digital platform. Through the Economic and Fiscal Snapshot, the government announced $72.1 million for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to begin this work, by stabilizing and standardizing its current information technology infrastructure, building the foundation for a new digital platform, and supporting more efficient processing through the responsible use of data-driven technologies. This modern processing system will contribute to Canada’s world-class immigration system through enhanced client service, operational efficiency and program integrity, ensuring a higher level of service and internal capacity to bring the skills and talents of new Canadians to our communities.

The government stated that skilled newcomers are critical to Canada’s economic growth and recovery, but they are not always able to contribute to their full potential. According to the Statement, the demand for professionals in key sectors, such as Information Technology (IT), is increasing in many regions across Canada, leading to a situation where “there are skilled workers without quality jobs, and quality jobs without skilled workers”. These challenges are being exacerbated by the current pandemic-related economic slowdown.

Therefore, to scale up and expand existing supports for the labour market integration of skilled newcomers with a focus on in-demand sectors, such as health, IT, and skilled trades, the government proposes to invest $15 million in 2021-22 in the Foreign Credential Recognition Program. Up to 15,000 skilled newcomers are expected to benefit from this investment. It will cut the time it takes for newcomers to integrate into Canadian society by finding jobs in their field more quickly.

The government is also investing in public transit systems, which it noted is used more by immigrants. New Canadians are overrepresented as users of public transit. According to the 2016 Census, immigrants accounted for 24 per cent of all commuters, but 40 per cent of commuters using public transit. Recent immigrants accounted for 3 per cent of all commuters, but 9 per cent of public transit users. Immigrant women were more likely to use public transit than immigrant men, representing 60 per cent of all immigrant public transit users, but only 48 per cent of immigrant commuters. Non-immigrant women are also more likely to use public transportation than non-immigrant men.


Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth. Canadians have seen how newcomers are playing an outsized role in our hospitals and care homes, and helping us to keep food on the table. As we look to recovery, newcomers create jobs not just by giving our businesses the skills they need to thrive, but also by starting businesses themselves. Our plan will help to address some of our most acute labour shortages and to grow our population to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.

– The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Quick facts

  • Immigrants account for 33% of all business owners with paid staff, and 25% of workers in our health sector are immigrants. 
  • The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act requires the levels plan be tabled in Parliament each year. 
  • The levels plan is a projection of how many permanent residents will be admitted to Canada, setting targets and ranges for overall admissions, as well as for each immigration category. 
  • The levels plan takes into account extensive engagement with provincial and territorial representatives, as well as public opinion research and stakeholder consultations.
  • Canadians across the country can see how newcomers are benefiting local communities through IRCC’s Immigration Matters campaign.
  • Under the Canada-Quebec Accord, Quebec establishes its own immigration levels.

See also Canada targets 351,000 new permanent residents in 2021 despite pandemic