Rising unemployment could force the federal government to nudge shut the door on thousands of foreigners looking to make Canada their new home, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says.
While Ottawa is sticking by its pledge to accept 240,000 to 265,000 permanent residents this year, the worsening economic outlook may prompt the government to rethink that target in the coming months, Kenney said yesterday.
“We don’t want people coming to Canada and facing unemployment. We need to be sensitive to the changing labour market, and if we need to make modifications, we will,” he said.
Kenney said Canada, which accepted 247,000 permanent residents last year, so far “stands alone” among other nations by maintaining its levels for permanent residents. However, he conceded that may change, given economic conditions.
Federal and provincial immigration officials plan to meet next month and decide whether to tinker with the target.
But Kenney made clear his preference is to stick with the current target, calling new immigrants the “fuel” of the economy, once it turns around.
“We’re going to need immigration as a source of economic growth. In the next decade, 100 per cent of our net labour market growth will be as a result of immigration,” he said. “We don’t want to turn off the tap of the future growth that is represented by immigration.”