Philippines overtakes China as biggest source of new Canadian permanent residents
Official statistics now identify the Philippines as the number-one source country for Canadian immigration. According to Canadian immigration figures for 2014, over 40,000 Filipino nationals gained permanent residency in Canada, compared to 29,539 in 2013 when China was the number-one source country.
A significant portion of these new permanent residents first entered Canada through the Live-In Caregiver Program, which was renamed the Caregiver Program in 2014 when it was reformed to facilitate permanent residency for caregivers while solidifying their rights as workers. Approximately 50% of the Filipino population in Canada resides in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), while the second largest Filipino population in the country is in Vancouver. Winnipeg, with 56,400 Filipinos, boasts the third largest Filipino population in Canada by number and the largest by percentage.
Within a single decade, the total number of new permanent residents from the Philippines has tripled from the figure of 14,004 reported in 2004. Since 2006, the number of visitor visas issued to Filipinos has also increased, with Citizenship and Immigration Canada issuing 47,000 to visitors from the Philippines in 2014.
Federal government expects immigration levels from Philippines to increase
Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander corroborated the new statistics, stating that “Canada benefited from robust immigration from the Philippines in 2014.” As Alexander further remarked, “Students and permanent residents from around the world as well as visitors continue to strengthen Canada’s economy and communities.”
On the recent occasion of Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s visit to Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper affirmed the federal government as “pro-immigration,” and predicted that the Philippines would continue to grow as a source for Canadian immigration.
Harper hopes to increase annual trade with the Philippines, currently worth $2 billion. On Friday, May 8th, the two nations agreed to begin discussing the possibility of a bilateral trade agreement. Harper further announced that Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast will spearhead a trade delegation to the Philippines later this month.
Criticisms of Temporary Foreign Worker reforms
Harper’s meeting with President Aquino also addressed the controversies over how the recent reforms to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program affect Filipino immigrants, particularly caregivers. Harper defended the reforms, elaborating that his government wants to avoid having large numbers of foreign workers remain in Canada with no means of attaining citizenship.
“We are making sure that when people come to this country to work and to work long-term, they have the ability to move towards being permanent citizens of this country,” the Prime Minister stated.
Harper added, “This country is not going to have a policy, as long as I’m prime minister, where we will have a permanent underclass of people who are so-called ‘temporary’ but here forever with no rights of citizenship and no rights of mobility.”
Four years ago, in 2011, Harper’s Conservative government established a deadline of April 1, 2015 for low-skilled temporary foreign workers to return to their home countries if they had not yet achieved permanent resident status.
Following his meeting with Harper, President Aquino told the press that the majority of Filipinos employed in Canada are in skilled positions and thus not beholden to the April deadline.
In Aquino’s words, Canada’s growing Filipino community would not exist if “they weren’t happy or if they were so filled with anxiety.”
You may read more about the Canadian Temporary Worker reforms and the Caregiver program elsewhere on our website.