Speaking notes for the Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism at a news conference to announce that in 2010, Canada welcomed the highest number of legal immigrants in more than 50 years
Toronto, Ontario, February 13, 2011
Thank you very much for joining us. Ladies and gentlemen, the Government of Canada is committed to maintaining Canada's tradition of welcoming newcomers from around the world and supporting the strong economy. While other Western countries cut back on immigration during the recession, Canada's government kept legal immigration levels high while taking action to maintain the integrity of our immigration system. Our post-recession economy, after all, demands a high level of economic immigration to keep our economies strong.
That's why, as Canada emerged from the global recession in 2010, I took steps last summer to bolster economic immigration. After meeting with my provincial counterparts in June of last year, I announced that we were adjusting Canada's immigration plan for 2010 to increase economic immigration and help ensure employers have the workers they need to supplement our domestic sources of labour.
And so today, I'm here to make a very exciting announcement. As a result of these changes, Canada – and according to the preliminary data that I am releasing today – Canada welcomed in 2010 the highest number of immigrants in the past 57 years – 281,000 newcomers. We welcomed 281,000 newcomers, a total exactly of 280,636 – we don't want to miss one of those people – new permanent residents who were admitted to Canada last year.
This number is about 60,000 higher than the average number of permanent residents admitted on an annual basis during the decade of the 1990s. Overall, the Government's planned range of new permanent residents for 2010 was exceeded actually by 6%. In the 1990s, we usually saw the targets being missed on the negative side, but this year, our department has exceeded actually the intake target for newcomers by 6%.
It's important to understand that the ranges are for planning purposes only. The key number is how many immigrants Canada actually admits. For 2010, as I mentioned, that number is over 280,000, with the growth coming mostly from skilled economic immigrants who are going to help us build our economy.
This reflects the important role of immigration in supporting our growth and our prosperity. Now, the high number of economic immigrants in 2010 has helped Citizenship and Immigration Canada decrease the backlogs in the Federal Skilled Work Program, reduce wait times significantly under our Action Plan for Faster Immigration, and better meet labour market needs.
Now, before the Action Plan for Faster Immigration was put in place by our Government, Canada was obliged to process every immigration application it received, even if it meant creating a huge backlog which had swelled to 640,000 skilled worker applicants at its peak in 2008. But our Action Plan is paying off. Last year, in fact, the backlog in this category was drawn down to 335,000 applicants. So that backlog is down by about nearly 50%. This represents close to half the number of applicants who were awaiting a decision in 2008.
read more at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/speeches/2011/2011-02-13.asp