Canada welcomes largest number of immigrants in 50 years

Canada welcomed the largest number of immigrants in 50 years in 2010, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). This included applicants under the federal skilled worker program as well as the provincial nominee program.

280,636 gained permanent residence in Canada during this period, six percent more than the Government's planned range of 240,000 to 265,000 new permanent residents. The Canadian Government adjusted its immigration plan in 2010 to increase skilled immigration.

"While other Western countries cut back on immigration during the recession, our government kept legal immigration levels high," said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. "Canada's post-recession economy demands a high level of economic immigration to keep our economy strong."

"In 2010, we welcomed the highest number of permanent residents in the past 50 years to support Canada's economic recovery while taking action to maintain the integrity of Canada's immigration system with the introduction of the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act," he added.

"It's important to understand that the ranges are for planning purposes only. The key number is how many immigrants Canada actually admits. For 2010, that number is 280,636, with the growth coming mostly from skilled economic immigrants," said Dr. Alice Wong, Parliamentary Secretary.

The increase in skilled immigration visas actually being issued has helped Canada reduce a backlog of immigration applications in the federal skilled worker category, Canada's points based skilled immigration scheme.

"Last year, the backlog of people who applied before the [Action Plan for Faster Immigration] was drawn down to 335,000 applicants, which represents close to half the number of people who were awaiting a decision in 2008," said Kenney.

"I'm very pleased that a higher number of admissions in 2010 means that more people are now out of the lineup and well on their way to beginning a new life in Canada," he added.

In addition, Canada increased its provincial nominee program by twenty percent. The provincial nominee program allows Canadian provinces and territories to sponsor skilled immigrants.

"Since 2006, our government has allowed for the provincial nominee program to expand significantly, from 8,047 people in 2005 to 36,419 in 2011," Kenney said.