Canada immigration sharply curtailed by virus: study

Canada immigration sharply curtailed by virus: study

Closed gates are seen in Lansdowne, Ontario at the US-Canada border in March 2020
Closed gates are seen in Lansdowne, Ontario at the US-Canada border in March 2020

MONTREAL - Canada had hoped to welcome a record wave of immigrants in 2020 but will likely take in approximately half the previously expected number of people due to the coronavirus pandemic, a study published Friday showed.

In March, the government announced that it planned to accommodate some 370,000 new permanent residents this year. But according to a new study by the Royal Bank of Canada, some 170,000 fewer immigrants are now likely to enter the country.

Ottawa announced its plan to allow a heightened number of immigrants just four days before Canada implemented travel restrictions that have virtually halted immigration.

In 2019, Canada set a record with 341,000 new permanent residents.

"We expect immigration levels to be down sharply in 2020," study author Andrew Agopsowicz said. "A recovery in 2021 will depend in part on the course of the pandemic."

Repercussions from the decrease will be felt throughout the economy, he said, given Canada's dependence on foreign labor and its aging population.

Some of the worst-off areas will be industries with labor shortages, urban rental and housing markets, and universities, according to the report.

"Canada will need a younger and growing population to maintain growth and support the unprecedented expansion of the fiscal deficit that came in response to the crisis," Agopsowicz said.

Only foreigners with permanent resident status or a study permit approved before March 18 are allowed in the country. Already in March, 30 percent fewer people gained permanent residency compared with the previous year.

"If these restrictions last all summer, we expect to see 170,000 fewer permanent residents entering the country in 2020 than planned," Agopsowicz said.

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