Federal-Provincial-Territorial Immigration Ministers Commit to Ongoing Collaboration to Strengthen the Immigration System

May 10, 2024—Montréal—The Forum of Ministers Responsible for Immigration (FMRI) met today to discuss Canada’s immigration levels planning for 2025–2027.

Canada’s immigration ministers discussed the economic and social benefits of immigration, levels of permanent and temporary residents, and related capacity pressures. Ministers emphasized that a well-managed immigration system is critical to Canada’s objective of distributing the benefits of immigration across the country and agreed that the ability to welcome and integrate newcomers is linked to having strong public services. Provincial and territorial ministers continued to call on the federal government to reverse the $625M cuts to employment services under the labour market transfer agreements (LMTAs) which will risk services on which workers, newcomers, job seekers and vulnerable Canadians rely. They underlined that strong collaboration and coordination between orders of government are key to leveraging federal, provincial and territorial immigration programs, including the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Federal, provincial and territorial immigration programs continue to address regional labour market needs and help all jurisdictions meet their economic, cultural and societal objectives. Ministers acknowledged Canada’s long-standing and proud tradition of welcoming newcomers, including the world’s most vulnerable people.

Ministers discussed the importance of balancing temporary and permanent resident arrivals, including the federal government’s intention to include temporary residents in the annual levels plan for the first time this coming year and decrease the temporary resident population to 5% of Canada’s total population. Ministers shared the unique perspectives and realities facing their jurisdictions.

Temporary residents include temporary foreign workers, international students, those arriving under Canada’s responses to international humanitarian crises, and asylum claimants. Ministers explored links between temporary residents and regional immigration priorities, including economic and labour market needs, and enhancing the vitality of Francophone communities outside Quebec. As is the case with permanent residents, ministers underlined that temporary residents play a key role in contributing to prosperity, labour markets and cultural diversity throughout Canada. They remarked that any reduction to overall temporary resident volumes must be managed strategically to take into account labour needs in key industry sectors where foreign workers play a valuable role. They emphasized the importance of taking a data-driven approach and monitoring the impacts of recent federal measures that aim to reduce temporary resident volumes.

Ministers discussed federal measures recently introduced, including changes to the International Student Program (ISP). They noted that the ISP falls under both immigration—which is a shared jurisdiction—and education, which falls exclusively under the responsibility of provinces. Ministers acknowledged changes to the federal government’s existing work permit programs. They underlined a need for better alignment with short- and long-term regional labour market needs, including strategic use of temporary foreign workers in certain sectors of the economy. Ministers noted their ongoing commitment to collaborate to strengthen the integrity of Canada’s work permit programs. As well, they underscored the importance of safeguards so that Canadians and permanent residents have the first opportunity to fill jobs.

Faced with significant levels of global conflict, economic and political upheaval, human rights abuses, natural disasters, and climate change, Canada has played and continues to play a leadership role in welcoming displaced people. This includes responses to crises in Afghanistan, Gaza, Iran, Sudan, Syria and Türkiye, and the implementation of the Canada–Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program. Ministers discussed the desire for further solutions for Ukrainians who wish to remain in Canada permanently. Ministers acknowledged that Canada has also been experiencing significant volumes of asylum claimants, consistent with worldwide trends. They recognized the importance of strengthening the asylum system through offering protection and support to those in genuine need, so Canada can continue to meet its humanitarian obligations. They noted their ongoing collaboration to date and the importance of its continuation to aid with the arrival and integration of these vulnerable newcomers. Ministers discussed the need for ongoing collaboration and cooperation around the federal crisis response framework to guide and manage Canada’s response to humanitarian crises. They emphasized the importance of early communication between governments on initiatives that may impact jurisdictions, and the need to clearly define each government’s responsibilities, including enhanced federal supports to help settle these vulnerable newcomers, particularly asylum claimants.

Ministers discussed the challenges associated with the increased volume of asylum claimants and the need to maintain fairness and accelerate processing of asylum claims to allow for full integration of successful claimants into their host community. Ministers noted that increased collaboration could help alleviate pressures on some jurisdictions, particularly the impact on housing and shelter in some provinces and territories.  Ministers recognized the disproportionate pressures facing Ontario and Quebec and agreed to establish a working group of ministers and officials to better manage the flow of asylum claimants across the country and the necessary resources to support them.

Ministers agreed that PNPs have a critically important role in supporting regional economic and labour market needs. Ministers also discussed the role PNPs can play in the transition from temporary to permanent residence for those with in-demand skills. Provincial and territorial ministers raised concerns regarding PNP allocation levels for 2024 and called for a greater share of PNPs in immigration levels planning and additional allocations. Some ministers noted that PNPs could face increased demand as a result of reductions to the number of temporary residents, including the number of temporary work permit holders available to fill job vacancies. Some ministers noted that increasing PNP allocations to support temporary resident to permanent resident pathways that are aligned with provincial and territorial priorities would support the federal government’s objective of reducing the volume of temporary residents in Canada.

Ministers underscored their ongoing commitment to advancing joint immigration priorities, in line with the principles of shared jurisdiction and mutual respect for both federal and provincial-territorial roles and responsibilities for immigration in Canada.

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