Minister Touts Economic Benefits of Canadian Immigration Boost

(Bloomberg) -- The Canadian government’s plan to increase immigration levels is designed to help grow the economy by attracting skilled labor, according to Justin Trudeau’s immigration minister.

Ahmed Hussen, speaking Thursday in a television interview with BNN Bloomberg television, said attracting “highly skilled newcomers” is a central component of the country’s long-term prosperity. A day earlier Hussen announced new targets that aim to bring immigration to 350,000 by 2021, levels that haven’t been hit in more than a century.

That plan “makes sure as a country we continue to be a global leader in our ability to attract the best and the brightest and in our ability to attract those who would come and fill unfilled jobs and grow our economy,” Hussen said.

Trudeau’s Liberal government has sought to accelerate immigration levels since coming to power in 2015, a move that has helped drive the fastest pace of population growth in three decades. Economists have described the policy as a form of “human stimulus.

Immigration levels have averaged about 300,000 since Trudeau took power, up from just over 250,000 the previous decade. The plan announced Wednesday targets 202,300 so-called “economic” immigrants by 2021, up from a target of a 177,500 this year.

The policy, however, comes with political risk. Trudeau’s rivals -- including the premier of Canada’s most populous province -- made border policy an issue over the summer. And Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel said Thursday the boosted intake targets that Hussen announced this week aren’t sustainable.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.