OTTAWA -- Immigration to Canada is set to increase over the next three years to 340,000 people a year by 2020 under the federal Liberal government's new multi-year approach to admissions planning.
The immigration plan released Wednesday will see immigration levels climb from 300,000 people a year this year to 310,000 in 2018 and 330,000 in 2019.
The increases will bring immigration to Canada to nearly 1 per cent of the population -- a figure that many have cited as necessary for the Canadian economy to remain competitive as it confronts the realities of an aging workforce and declining birth rate.
"Everyone has been of the opinion we need more workers, we need more skilled workers, we need more people to power our economy, address our real skills shortages, address our real labour market shortages and also address the regional nature of some of these requirements," Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said Wednesday.
"So we've listened."
The switch to a longer term planning approach marks a major pivot for the federal government, which has for decades relied on setting annual targets each year.
Again, Hussen said, the change comes after listening to people who complained that the system doesn't work properly as it is currently structured.
"Provinces, municipalities, service providers, employers, everyone in Canada has been saying we need multi-year -- we can't keep doing immigration on a one-year basis," he said. "We need long-term planning, we need predictability, we need stability and we need to plan ahead."
The mix of immigration to Canada isn't slated to change much from the current breakdown.
About 60 per cent of the newcomers will remain in the economic class, with the remainder in the family sponsorship or refugee programs, though all will increase over the three-year period.