Budget 2024

Tax and spend fiscal plan will inhibit growth

Letter to The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, regarding the Government of Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan for 2023-2025

Dear Minister Fraser,  

As you and your department consider the Government of Canada’s next Immigration Levels Plan, the Business Council of Canada urges you to increase the number of economic class permanent residents entering the country. Doing so would help to address growing skills and labour shortages across the country, which are threatening long-term economic growth and competitiveness.  

Under the 2022-2024 plan, the Government’s annual admissions target for permanent residents represents 1.1% of Canada’s population, with 57% of total admissions entering the country under an economic class program. In our view, the 2023-2025 plan should be based on an annual admission target equal to 1.2% of Canada’s population, with 65% of new permanent residents entering the country under an economic class program.

With a declining birthrate and aging workforce, Canada’s future prosperity depends on further increases to the number of economic class permanent residents settling in Canada each year.

In the short run, increased economic immigration is needed to tackle acute labour and skill shortages. In a survey of Business Council members in the first quarter of 2022, 80% of respondents reported having difficulty finding the skilled workers they need to grow and compete globally. As a result of these shortages, 67% of respondents had canceled or delayed major projects, 60% reported lost revenues, and 30% were forced to relocate work outside of Canada.

A longer-term challenge is Canada’s aging labour force. Fifty years ago, there were 6.6 working-age Canadians for each person aged 65 or older. Today, there are only three. Without an immediate and sustained increase in economic immigration, the labour market will consist of fewer and fewer workers to support our social infrastructure and Canadians’ high standard of living.

In our view, Canada’s economic class immigration targets should emphasize highly skilled individuals in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. By turning new ideas into innovative products and thriving businesses, highly skilled newcomers have been an engine of growth and job creation that has made our economy among the most dynamic and competitive in the world.

To attract this talent, we urge the Government to expand the immigration system’s processing capacity by adding new processing centers, updating outdated IT systems, and increasing the recruitment and training of border agents and settlement services personnel. In our view, a growing workforce must also be accompanied by increased investments in public services, housing, and infrastructure.

Canada’s major employers are ready to step up to support increased economic immigration. They are prepared to provide new workers with all required settlement services, including language and cultural training; assistance in obtaining recognition of foreign credentials; and relocation supports such as temporary accommodations, interest-free loans, and tax advice.

Minister, on behalf of business leaders in all sectors and regions of the country, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the development of the Government’s next Immigration Levels Plan. We look forward to working with you and your department to help build a stronger, more prosperous Canada.


Goldy Hyder