Question Period: Immigration Levels

By: The Hon. Clément Gignac

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Kings Cove, Newfoundland

Hon. Clément Gignac: Senator Gold, I think we need some assurances today that your government has the immigration file under control. On January 22, Minister Miller surprised the academic world by announcing a cap on the total number of foreign students allowed into Canada by reducing the number of study permits to be issued by 35% compared to 2023.

This morning, the same minister announced that your government is reintroducing the visa requirement for Mexican travellers wishing to visit Canada, a measure that your government had eliminated in 2016. Naturally, the measure is being criticized by the Mexican president, who says he hasn’t ruled out retaliatory measures against Canada.

My question, Senator Gold, is similar to the one I asked on February 13. Don’t you think it’s time for your government to call a non-partisan national summit on immigration, or at least hold a federal-provincial conference to get as much information as possible?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question, senator. Our government’s priority has always been and will always be preserving the integrity of our immigration system while ensuring fair and compassionate treatment of people fleeing persecution.

This decision was not made lightly. It was made after careful consideration, and — it bears mentioning — consultation with the Mexican government and our provincial counterparts. The federal government will continue to work closely with its provincial counterparts and all stakeholders on immigration policy.

Senator Gignac: Senator Gold, the number of non-permanent residents almost doubled in three years, reaching nearly 2.5 million by the end of 2023. According to CIBC’s chief economist, that number is probably an underestimate given departmental delays in processing work permit renewals.

While we wait for more accurate information about this sharp rise in the number of temporary workers, wouldn’t it be prudent to lower permanent immigration thresholds to avoid making Canada’s housing shortage even worse?

Senator Gold: The Government of Canada is addressing complex immigration issues that affect not only people who submit so-called regular applications, but also people who come to Canada to work temporarily, to study and so on. We need to strike an appropriate balance between the two, and we need to do so with consideration and in consultation with our provincial and territorial counterparts. That remains challenging, and it’s the government’s responsibility.

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