New study says Canada will need to increase immigration

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According to a new study by the Conference Board of Canada, for economic growth to occur, immigration levels in Canada will need to increase significantly.

The study outlined a number of measures that should be taken to ensure a healthy long-term domestic labor market; including more options for temporary foreign workers to become permanent residents. The study praised recent changes to Canadian immigration policy, such as the new Canadian Experience Class and improvements to the Off-Campus Work Permit program for foreign students.

"Canada's permanent and temporary immigration systems are changing to better address the needs of business, provinces and migrants themselves," said Douglas Watt, Associate Director, Organizational Effectiveness and Learning for the Board.

"These changes are positive steps, but more needs to be done," he added. "Canada is competing with other countries for top international talent and a willingness to adjust programs and policies is the hallmark of successful immigration systems."

The report found that Canada will need to increase its annual immigration intake from the current 250,000 to 360,000 by 2025 to remain competitive in the global demand for skilled talent. In addition, the study said that Canada needs to address the issue of transparency in its immigration system.

"Transparency about how the temporary and permanent systems actually work is crucial," the report said.

The study noted that officials need to be up front to migrants about selection criteria, wages, and the availability of social benefits and health care.

During 2007, Canada took in 475,965 immigrants. However, over 50 percent were temporary workers and foreign students.

During 2006 -- for the first time -- temporary foreign workers in Canada outnumbered permanent residents admitted through skilled immigration schemes such as the federal skilled worker category.