Canada's new immigration plan to factor in need to bolster housing and services

FILE PHOTO: Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller

By Wa Lone

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada will incorporate planning for housing, healthcare and other services into its a immigration strategy, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said on Tuesday, after posting its biggest population jump in almost seven decades.

Statistics Canada has said the population grew by 2.9% in the 12 months to July 1, 2023, to more than 40 million.

"We need to better align immigration programs systems and services with Canada's labor market," Miller told reporters. "This is what we've heard consistently from stakeholders and all those ... that speak to us on a daily basis about their needs."

For example, construction and healthcare have been dogged by labor shortages in recent years.

Canada's government is facing pressure to address concerns about targeting annual immigration at around 500,000 permanent residents by 2025 given the backdrop of an affordable housing crisis and escalating living costs.

Canada is targeting 465,000 this year.

One key to the new strategy is to accelerate processing services for international student permits at institutions with better housing, services and other supports, the ministry said.

The new strategy is important so that Canada can adapt quickly and respond in a sustainable way to growing global humanitarian crises, Miller said.

(Reporting by Wa Lone; Editing by Steve Scherer and Sandra Maler)