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The government of Canada’s annual budget, released February 27, has provided detail on how a planned increase in immigration to Canada over the next three years will be financially managed.

Canada’s ambitious multi-year immigration levels plan was announced last November by Minister of Immigration, Ahmed Hussen. Under the plan, Canada aims to admit around one million new permanent residents between 2018 and 2020 across three broad classes: economic (including Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs), Family Class, and refugee and humanitarian.

Hussen’s cabinet colleague Bill Morneau, in his capacity as Minister of Finance, presented the government’s budget in the House of Commons in Ottawa. The budget provides $100 million for the immigration plan to be implemented over the 2018-19 fiscal year. Under the period covered by the existing immigration plan (2018 to 2020), the government plans on spending $440 million, roughly have of an overall tab of $875 million over six years, including the last fiscal year. Most of this funding will be delivered to the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), though other departments, such as the Canada Border Services Agency, will also receive funding to implement the plan.

The government has also earmarked $194.1 million over five years, beginning in 2018–19, and $33.19 million per year ongoing, to ensure the rights of foreign workers in Canada are protected and enforced through a robust compliance regime. Foreign workers in Canada are admitted through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program; the latter program includes initiatives such as International Experience Canada (IEC), Intra-Company Transfers, NAFTA, and CETA.

Budget 2018 highlights

The Liberal budget also accommodates new initiatives that may prove attractive to newcomers and long-time residents of Canada alike, including:

  • Renewal and funding of Start-Up Visa Program. This permanent residence program for entrepreneurs will receive $4.6 million over five years, beginning in 2018–19, and $0.8 million per year ongoing, to enhance the Start-up Visa client-service experience by ensuring applicants, private sector partners, and immigration officials are able to process applications electronically and more efficiently.
  • A plan to achieve proactive pay equity in Canada. The government aims to close the gender wage gap in the public service and federally regulated workplaces, which together employ nearly 1.2 million people.
  • Longer paternity leave. Modeled on a successful system already used in the province of Quebec, the feds have outlined an incentive for new fathers to share more responsibilities in child-rearing, with an aim to encourage more mothers to return to the workforce earlier. Under the scheme, two-parent families who take an equal amount of leave will receive an additional five weeks’ paid leave.
  • Small business tax. The government moved to gradually eliminate the amount eligible for the preferential small business rate as the amount of passive income rises above $50,000 with the small business deduction limit reduced to zero at $150,000. It also moved to limit the advantages that some businesses can obtain when they pay certain dividends. The changes, which will apply starting with tax years that begin in 2019, are expected to bring in $925 million a year by the 2022-23 fiscal year.
  • Scientific research. The budget targets increased involvement in STEM and in management roles among women and indigenous persons, with federal funds made available to support these efforts.

The government’s budget is titled ‘Equality and Growth: A Strong Middle Class.’ In the run-up to budget day, government departments pitching wish lists had to take into account gender implications in order for the Ministry of Finance to consider the proposal.

“The Canadian economy is doing well, remarkably well,” stated Minister Morneau, who noted that unemployment levels are at their lowest levels in around four decades.

To get the latest information on the performance of Canada’s economy, visit the Moving2Canada Labour Market Report, updated monthly.

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