Decrease Number Of Temporary Residents By Making Them Permanent, Federal Immigration Minister Suggests

Canada's strategy to reduce the number of temporary residents involves offering them a pathway to permanent residency, announced Immigration Minister Marc Miller. However, not all temporary residents will qualify for this opportunity.

Miller convened with provincial and territorial counterparts to discuss this unprecedented plan aimed at curbing the surging influx of temporary residents, which has strained housing and services. The objective is to decrease the proportion of temporary residents to five percent of Canada's population within three years, down from the 6.2 percent recorded in 2023.

Acknowledging the potential strain on provincial immigration programs due to increased demand from temporary residents seeking to stay permanently, several ministers proposed expanding these programs as a mutually beneficial solution to retain individuals in Canada.

Miller emphasized that while the presence of temporary residents has already influenced affordability, it does not guarantee entitlement to permanent residency.

The government is in the process of setting new targets for temporary residents, with plans to develop and publish them in the fall. Miller requested provinces to share data on temporary resident populations, including those transitioning to permanent residency under provincial nominee programs, as well as their capacity for newcomers and the resulting population growth pressure.

Efforts to reduce the influx of international students and expedite asylum claim processing have already been initiated. However, addressing temporary work permit holders remains a significant challenge.

The discussions also centered on how to allocate a finite number of temporary visas, with provinces expressing varying approaches to managing their reliance on temporary labor.

While some provinces, like Saskatchewan, aim to transition temporary residents to permanent status, others, like Manitoba, have experienced a surge in applications to provincial nominee programs in response to federal announcements about scaling back temporary immigration.

Manitoba successfully negotiated an extension of federal work permits for thousands of newcomers, hoping for increased federal allocations in the future as a result.

Provinces are advocating for more control over immigration policies to tailor solutions to their labor markets. However, experts caution that while reducing temporary residents could alleviate housing pressure, it might also lead to labor shortages and wage increases.

Mikal Skuterud, a labor economist, highlights the need for a comprehensive approach, linking temporary work visas with the broader immigration system. He suggests that changes in criteria for permanent residency have incentivized lower-skilled workers to migrate temporarily, contributing to the current challenges.

Skuterud emphasizes the importance of establishing a transparent and predictable pathway to permanent residency to address vulnerabilities and prevent exploitation of temporary residents by recruiters and employers.