Toronto, March 9 (IANS) The government of Canada announced an ambitious plan for 2016 immigration levels on Tuesday, aimed at reuniting more families.
Ottawa plans to welcome between 280,000 and 305,000 permanent residents by the end of 2016, a 7.4 percent increase from the 2015 admission target set by the previous Conservative government, Xinhua news agency reported.
Canada is seeking to welcome the record number of immigrants as the Liberal government shifts its focus on family reunification and the settlement of refugees, said Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum in Brampton, Ontario.
"Indeed, it is the highest number of projected immigrant admissions put forth by the Government of Canada in modern times," McCallum said.
According to a breakdown of the new immigration plan posted on the government's website, economic immigrants will still make up the majority of newcomers. Approximately 160,000 of them, including high-skilled workers and caregivers, are expected to arrive in Canada this year.
But special attention will be paid to reuniting more families in 2016. The government says it will increase admissions for sponsored spouses, partners and dependents, and help reduce application processing times.
Under the family immigration class, Ottawa aims to welcome 60,000 sponsored spouses, parents and children, as well as 20,000 parents and grandparents by the end of the year. McCallum said that family reunification backlogs will be reduced as more individuals are admitted to the country.
The minister also said Canada remains committed to resettling refugees.
The 2016 admissions target for refugees and protected persons is nearly 60,000. That includes nearly 25,000 government-assisted refugees, 44,800 resettled refugees and 17,800 privately-sponsored refugees.
At the end of February, the government reached its goal of welcoming 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada. McCallum acknowledged Tuesday that there have been "challenges" in the process, especially when it comes to housing. (IANS)