John McCallum sets new base immigration target at 300,000 a year

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The Liberal government is boosting the base number immigrants to Canada to 300,000 to help drive economic growth as the country grapples with an aging demographic.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum will take questions from reporters after tabling the annual report in Parliament, and CBCNews.ca will carry his remarks live.

McCallum said the new annual target will be set at 300,000. The target from 2011-2015 was 260,000 which increased to 300,000 in 2016 to account for the influx of Syrian refugees.

Kevin Lamoureux, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, said immigrants not only fill jobs that would otherwise remain vacant to develop provincial economies, but they contribute to the character and social fabric of communities.

If it weren’t for immigration, population of his province of Manitoba would have declined in the last decade.

“Immigration plays a critical role in terms of the future of Canada in particular in region where the threat of de-population is a reality. Manitoba and other provinces are subject to that depopulation,” he said.

Focus on economic class

More than half the 2016 total, 160,600, are in the economic category for skilled workers, business people and caregivers; 80,000 are in the family program for spouses, children, parents and grandparents; 55,800 are refugees and protected persons and another 3,600 are in the humanitarian category.

Table view

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Table view

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Alberta MP Tom Kmiec, the Conservative deputy Immigration critic, said immigration levels must match employment needs and be set after “meaningful” consultation with provinces and territories, businesses and human resources professionals.

“The situation in Alberta is very different from, say, New Brunswick, where they are very concerned about more Francophone, more French-speaking immigrants coming in,” he said. “The same goes for people in Ontario and Quebec.”

While Albertans welcome immigrants, there is a lower appetite right now to bring in people who could compete for scarce jobs, Kmiec said, adding the government must adjust the stream to ensure Albertans get first crack at the jobs.

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John McCallum sets new base immigration target at 300,000 a year

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