The federal government will maintain its position on mass immigration by welcoming half-a-million newcomers in 2026.
Immigration levels have reached record levels in recent years. As of June, Canada's population surpassed 40 million people, potentially reaching 50 million by 2040.
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre told reporters August 1 that Canada's immigration system is "broken." He said a Conservative government would focus immigration targets on labour needs but failed to provide a specific target.
Canada's population grew by more than one million people last year — a record for the country — and a 2.7% growth year-over-year compared to 2021. Parliament is eyeing 500,000 new immigrants annually in 2025, with 465,000 newcomers expected to receive permanent residency this year.
Immigration Minister Marc Miller claimed the targets would bolster the labour supply of the Canadian workforce while offering assurances that recalibrated temporary worker admissions would ensure the sustainability of the target. Ottawa has long defended its immigration plan as 'necessary' given Canada has approximately 781,000 job vacancies, according to Statistics Canada.
On November 1, the federal government announced they will "stabilize" those targets at 500,000 newcomers per year in 2026. "Those numbers were needed but now we have to take a look at them, where we feel they're reasonable and plateauing in a space where we think it makes sense," said Miller.
The move comes amidst growing concerns nationwide regarding inflation, food insecurity, and housing availability and affordability.
Though reluctant to blame mass immigration for the housing crisis, Miller said his government will review "the impact of immigrants [...] on the housing supply." However, he quickly touted the steps taken by the feds to correct the housing shortage, including the introduction of the housing accelerator fund to bolster development numbers.
Housing Minister Sean Fraser told reporters October 20 that "by legalizing housing across Canada, we’re helping Canadians find the homes they need at prices they can afford." He later clarified that increasing the economic class to 60% of annual targets by 2026 would address the ongoing skilled labour shortage.
"Volume is volume," he said October 31, "and it does have an impact."
"There’s no denying that," added Fraser. "But the specific role that immigration plays in certain areas is something we have to kind of break down a little more."
In August Poilievre appeared before reporters on Parliament Hill, slamming Liberal "ideology" for the ambitious immigration targets.
However, his immigration critic, Tom Kmiec, told CTV last November that dramatically increasing the number of new arrivals in Canada is 'welcomed,' despite concerns on how the government would meet its targets. At the time, Kmiec claimed immigration officials had 2.6 million applications waiting to be processed, including 1.6 million requests for temporary residence, and 615,000 permanent residency cases.
"Now they're talking about trying to bring in a half a million immigrants," he said. "I just don't believe them that they're going to be able to do it. And that's completely unfair for people who are applying and hoping for a reasonable timeline to get a yes or no."
On August 1, PPC leader Max Bernier told Rebel News that Canada needs "millions fewer immigrants, foreign workers and students, and refugees by 2030." He added: "We must focus on the well-being of Canadians first while you and Trudeau focus on bringing in millions of foreigners and competing for their votes."
On November 2, Bernier again called out the Conservatives for remaining silent on the Liberals 'most destructive policy of their mandate.'
"Increasing annual mass immigration numbers for two more years and keeping them at this record level thereafter [prompted] zero reaction on the part of Pierre Poilievre and his immigration critic Tom Kmiec," he said, claiming: "They don’t think that’s important enough to say anything."
"Both parties are willing to destroy Canada in order to compete for votes in big cities," argued the PPC leader. "Stop wasting your vote on these corrupt establishment parties who agree on almost everything."