It pays to plan ahead

November 1st, 2017

Today, Canada set an ambitious standard in its multi-year Immigration Levels Plan, but was it ambitious enough?

During the question and answer session after Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen outlined the government’s plan to welcome nearly a million immigrants before the end of 2020, a journalist from a national media organization directly asked the Minister why the government didn’t set an even bolder target, as previously recommended by a government advisory group.

Perhaps it is the case that the government does not want to make leaps when it can take steps. What is important is that we are moving in the right direction — from an economic point of view, as well as on family reunification and our important refugee resettlement efforts — and that most Canadians are on-side.

What is just as important is that we have a government that listens. Why did Canada move to a multi-year plan, and which stakeholders were consulted along the way? A recent statement from Ontario Immigration Minister A statement from Ontario’s immigration minister Laura Albanese is telling. Albanese stated that Ontario supports the introduction of multi-year levels plans “to provide more predictability to the immigration system and inform program planning . . . significant variation in year-to-year immigration levels can dramatically impact the requirement for provincial year-to-year resources. A longer-term outlook would help in planning for appropriate service levels and use of resources.”

At the recent federal-provincial meetings of ministers responsible for immigration, all ministers emerged united on the need for a multi-year approach. The Conference Board of Canada has been a cheerleader in the move to multi-year targets.

In that sense, this move was inevitable. And yet for many years until now various Canadian governments have tabled single-year plans, as if there was no other option. As the old adage goes, just because something has always been done a certain way does not necessarily mean it’s the best way.

Last month, I asked on this blog whether Canada would dare to ramp up immigration target levels towards the 450,000 figure suggested by the government advisory council last year. The economies of scale that would result from larger communities and trade within Canada would bring benefits to Canadians and newcomers alike.

The answer from this government seems to suggest that we may get there some time, but the increase may be incremental. Until then, let’s keep working as a country to uphold our reputation as one of the best immigrant destinations in the world. At this time, more than ever, that reputation is crucial to the success of our nation and its inhabitants.

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