Canada had hoped to welcome a record number of immigrants in 2020, but ultimately risks receiving 170,000 fewer than expected due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study released Friday.
• Read also: COVID-19: Canada nears 90,000 mark
The pandemic resulted in the suspension of most international flights between Canada and abroad in March and the closure of the border with the United States to non-essential travel, a few days after the government presented a plan to accommodate 370,000 new permanent residents, notes the Royal Bank of Canada study.
This number would have surpassed the record figure of 341,000 new permanent residents welcomed in 2019 by Canada, traditional land of immigration.
“We expect immigration to drop dramatically in 2020. A recovery in 2021 will depend in part on how the pandemic progresses,” said study author Economist Andrew Agopsowicz.
The repercussions of this decline will be felt on the economy, given its dependence on foreign labor to counter the aging of the population, he said.
Potential “victims” of declining immigration include shortage industries, the housing market and university budgets.
“Canada will need a younger and growing population to maintain growth and support the unprecedented widening of the fiscal deficit in response to the crisis,” said Mr. Agopsowicz.
Only foreigners with permanent resident status or a study permit can enter Canada since March 18, but their number was already down 30% in March compared to a year ago, note he.
Under these conditions and if the travel and border restrictions “last all summer”, Canada will welcome 170,000 new residents less than expected, he concluded.