As of the end of November, the IRCC has processed close to 5.2 million applications, which is nearly double the 2.5 million applications that were processed by the same time last year. In the last four months alone, the IRCC has reduced the inventory of applications by close to half a million, and has been working on reducing application wait-times for all programs.
Throughout the year, the Canadian government has been struggling with an enormous application backlog due in large part to the Covid-19 pandemic. Travel restrictions and office closures resulted in a record backlog which is slowly improving.
In an effort to continue to strengthen Canada’s immigration systems, and cut-back on these processing times, the IRCC continues to make updates to streamline processes. In August it was announced that they would hire 1,250 new staff by the end of the year to help streamline application processes. In addition, the IRCC has made steps to modernize applications by switching to digital applications. Currently, citizenship applications are completely digital for those over the age of 18, and only about 30% are considered in the backlog.
The IRCC is on track to issue a record-breaking number of study permits for this year. As of the end of November, over 670,000 study permits had been issued compared to 500,000 for the same period last year. New study permits are also now being processed within the 60 day service standard.
Work permits also saw vast increases and improvements in 2022. Nearly 700,000 work permits had been issued by the end of November 2022, a drastic increase from the 223,000 issued during the same period in 2019, pre-pandemic.
Critical labour market shortages have led many to turn to immigration as a path forward in addressing these critical shortages. The new 2023-2025 Immigration Plan embraces immigration as a strategy to help businesses find workers. It also aims to attract the skills required to fill key sectors, such as in health care, skilled trades, manufacturing and technology. This will help to manage the social and economic challenges facing Canada in the decades ahead.
Over the next three years, Canada will increase the number of new immigrants to the country each year. Canada will aim to welcome 465,000 new immigrants in 2023. The target will rise to 485,000 new immigrants in 2024. And it will again rise in 2025 to 500,000 new immigrants. The plan also brings an increased focus on attracting newcomers to different regions of the country, including small towns and rural communities.
The new plan also aims to increase regional programs to address targeted local labour market needs, through the Provincial Nominee Program, the Atlantic Immigration Program, and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot.
Canada has historically welcomed high numbers of newcomers to help keep its economy strong. Currently, Canada is facing a unique period of historic labour shortages alongside nearly one million job vacancies. Both are driving factors in the country’s growing immigration targets.
According to Statistics Canada, the number of job openings across the country reached an all-time high at nearly one million. This was an increase of 2.7% from the previous peak in the last quarter and over 80% above pre-pandemic levels. This has been the highest on record in recent years.
Vacancies have continued to rise in specific key sectors. Some of the hardest hit have been the health care and social assistance sector. The health care and social assistance sector has been growing rapidly due to the aging population. The shortage has been further exasperated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Canada faces an acute shortage of skilled workers, many businesses struggle to find the right people to fill positions. To help address this problem, Canada has turned to immigration to fill record numbers of job openings, a trend that is expected to continue well into 2023 to help fill crucial positions.
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