The Immigration Context

ISSofBC operates within the broad Canadian and BC immigration and settlement environment. Government policy, economic realities, and public opinion all influence this context, and we continuously take stock of the trends and changes underway so we can operate as effectively as possible while planning for the future.

In November 2022, the Federal government released its latest Immigration Levels Plan outlining permanent resident admissions targets that will increase to a total of 500,000 annually by 2025. Canada’s net population growth is now almost exclusively a function of immigration and reached the 40 million mark earlier this year.

Canada sets new immigration record with 430K newcomers in 2022

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Canada Immigration Rises Nearly 40% In First Two Months Of 2023

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Record-breaking number of immigration cases went through Federal Court in 2022

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A relatively small but an impactful and important part of these arrival numbers are refugees. Global conflicts have displaced the largest numbers of refugees since the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established. This past year saw two concurrent humanitarian crises – Afghanistan and Ukraine – with large arrival flows that provided necessary relief and safety to thousands of vulnerable families. In the background, other humanitarian movements and the growing impact of climate-related migration loom.

Together these add up to the highest ever levels of planned immigration, though these numbers do not include the significant numbers of temporary residents, including international students, that also arrive annually.

We also continued to respond to the needs of refugee claimants that arrive at our borders, an issue that gained much attention nationally over the last year as a new Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) was agreed between Canada and the US as well as the recent Supreme Court decision.

Canada has a long-standing consensus on the economic, social, and cultural benefits of immigration to our country and regions. We reap the benefits of this without much of the political and social controversy that is inherent in many other developed countries, including both the US and across much of Europe.

However, we saw more and more this year that we cannot take this Canadian consensus for granted. Increasing questions and concerns are being raised about the social infrastructure capacity, especially housing, to welcome so many newcomers, and whether this takes away from the benefits gained.

As a sector, we need to continue to develop the programs, policies, and partnerships to make sure settlement journeys are successful. At the same time, we also need to work with all levels of government, as well as with the business community and the wider civil society sector, to advocate for the necessary investments and integration of strategies and policies to ensure we respond to the capacity questions being raised.

Will Canada be able to house all the immigrants it hopes to welcome by 2025?

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Canada has jobs and public support for immigrants but it doesn’t have the housing

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What children of immigrants can teach everyone about mental health

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Our sector is also being challenged in different ways to look ahead in the delivery of services. These include the need to balance and evolve in a post-pandemic environment with the recent and rapid pivot to online and remote services, and the need to ensure our services are accessible to all, especially equity-seeking and other barriered clients.

From our unique vantage point of working directly with recently arrived immigrants and refugees, we will continue to be a values-driven and continuously learning organization, focused on our role as a service provider, but also vocal in making sure larger issues are understood, discussed, and addressed.

As part of our 50th anniversary celebrations, we hosted three national dialogue sessions on key issues that will shape the future of immigration to Canada (please watch those on Truth and Reconciliation and Climate Change here).

Building futures in Canada since 1972