Canada to maintain immigration target, welcome 300,000 in 2017

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WATCH: Tech companies say Canada's immigration system is hampering efforts to recruit top international talent. As Shirlee Engel reports the Immigration Minister is promising change, but he's keeping the status quo for now – Oct 31, 2016

Canada will bring in 300,000 immigrants next year, Immigration Minister John McCallum said Monday, maintaining the same target as in 2016.

The newcomers will help mitigate problems the national economy is encountering on account of its aging population, the minister said.

“The 2017 levels plan will put Canada in a strong position for the future and support our overall economic and social development as a country,” McCallum said.

READ MORE: John McCallum says plan for 450,000 new immigrants a year too ambitious

This new annual target marks an increase of 40,000 over the 260,000 annual base target that was in place between 2011 and 2015. That number increased to 300,000 for 2016 to help accommodate the influx of Syrian refugees.

WATCH: Canada’s 300,000 immigration target to be ‘permanent’; become foundation of future growth, says immigration minister.

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Canada’s 300,000 immigration target to be ‘permanent’; become foundation of future growth – Oct 31, 2016

So although the baseline target is not increasing for 2017, the minister said his department will be laying the groundwork to do just that.

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READ MORE: Who are the Yazidis and why is Canada bringing them in?

With that in mind, the minister has said immigration will soon be a driving factor behind economic growth — accounting for all net growth in the labour force, as the number of boomers retiring from the work force continues to outpace the number of young Canadians joining.

In a fact file published Monday, Immigration Canada indicated a significant portion of next year’s newcomers will be selected from specific economic programs.

Next year’s target for welcoming newcomers through the economic class is 172,500, up from 160,600 this year; the 2016 target for refugees was 55,800, which will decrease to 40,000 in 2017.

READ MORE: Immigration Minister John McCallum to revamp Temporary Foreign Workers program

Earlier this month, a high-powered group of external advisers called for a dramatic increase in Canada’s immigration levels, but McCallum at the time said the suggested 450,000 target was too ambitious.

Even though the panel suggested slowly increasing immigration levels to 450,000 over five years, McCallum said meeting the target would be costly and might not find broad national support.

On Monday, the minister said the panel’s recommendation was something toward which the government can aspire, but denied it had anything to do with next year’s immigration target.

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With a file from The Canadian Press

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