Question Period: Immigration Levels

By: The Hon. Clément Gignac

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Hon. Clément Gignac: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. Senator Gold, I’d like to talk to you about a somewhat sensitive subject that has become a cause for concern in Canada, as we saw from the motion adopted yesterday by all of the opposition parties in the other place, who are calling on the government to review its immigration targets.

In 2023, Canada’s population jumped by more than 1.2 million, or 3.2%, a rate of growth that has not been seen in 70 years. Our population grew five times faster than the OECD average. However, unlike the post-war baby boom, over 95% of this rapid population growth is due to immigration, which is putting pressure on our health and education systems and, most importantly, exacerbating the housing shortage.

Senator Gold, there’s no question that Canada is a welcoming place and that immigration is a source of wealth creation for our country. However, don’t you think it’s time to sit down with the provinces and work together on this issue, given the unintended consequences of this immigration boom?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. That certainly is a sensitive subject, and an important one. We know that the Minister of Immigration is taking a serious look at the issue. I’m told that, in developing the immigration plan, the Government of Canada has already consulted with the provinces and territories and other stakeholders to identify labour needs and integration capacity, as you rightly pointed out in your question.

Furthermore, as part of the planning process, the government consults the provinces and territories every year as it sets immigration targets. That is why the current plan for immigration targets will stabilize in 2026.

Senator Gignac: I understand that consultation is taking place with respect to permanent immigrants. However, the main source of tension right now is the booming number of temporary workers and international students.

To avoid a breakdown, politicization or a decline in the social acceptability of immigration in Canada, don’t you think it would be wise to set up a council of non-partisan experts tasked with providing public decision makers with a transparent estimate of the required population growth that Canada is able to absorb?

Senator Gold: Thank you for the suggestion. As I said, there’s already a structured stakeholder consultation process in place that includes the provinces and territories. However, your suggestion is an interesting one, and I’ll share it with the minister.

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