In 2010, Canada welcomed 280,636 permanent residents – the highest number of legal immigrants in more than 50 years.
“While other Western countries cut back on immigration during the recession, our government kept legal immigration levels high,” said Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. “Canada’s post-recession economy demands a high level of economic immigration to keep our economy strong. In 2010, we welcomed the highest number of permanent residents in the past 50 years to support Canada’s economic recovery while taking action to maintain the integrity of Canada’s immigration system with the introduction of the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act.”
According to preliminary data, the 2010 figures are about six per cent more than the government’s planned range of 240,000 to 265,000 new permanent residents for the year. The high number of economic immigrants in 2010 has helped CIC decrease application backlogs in the federal skilled worker category, reduce wait times under the Action Plan for Faster Immigration, and better meet labour market needs.
A recent evaluation confirmed that immigrants selected under the federal skilled worker program are faring well in Canada and filling gaps in the work force. It found that skilled workers who already had a job offer when they applied for permanent residence fared best of all, earning on average $79,200 three years after arriving in Canada. About two thirds of those admitted in 2010 in the permanent resident category were economic immigrants and their dependants.
Canada continued to welcome a high number of temporary residents, including 182,322 temporary foreign workers and 96,147 foreign students – 28,292 more foreign students than in 2005. With the creation of the Canadian Experience Class in 2008, eligible foreign students can apply for permanent residency from within Canada. According to a study commissioned by the Government of Canada, foreign students are estimated to contribute more than $6.5 billion to Canada’s economy every year.