$53 billion Budget 2024: Impact on Canadian Immigration

Canada releases a budget each year that establishes the spending priorities for the upcoming  fiscal year. For both newcomers and Canadians, it has a significant impact on every part of life.

The budget outlines Canada’s spending intentions and the goals of the current administration. It also displays the fiscal and economic health of Canada. Both of these play important roles in Canada’s immigration policy.

As Budget 2024 is unveiled, Canadians and prospective immigrants alike eagerly anticipate the policies and allocations that will shape the country’s socio-economic landscape. Immigration has long been a cornerstone of Canada’s growth strategy, and each budget holds implications for newcomers seeking to make Canada their home. 

Canada’s Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland has tabled federal Budget 2024 to Parliament

This year’s budget included $53 billion in new spending, with a strong emphasis on increasing the affordability of housing in Canada, as well as defence spending and raising labor force productivity to boost the country’s economy.  However, the 2023 budget placed a greater emphasis on efforts to improve affordability for Canadians who are most affected by rising inflation, as well as initiatives related to clean energy and healthcare spending. 

The Canadian Budget, despite not focusing on immigration, may introduce new spending and improvements to existing measures to assist newcomers in finding affordable housing and securing employment. As compared to last year, the budget of 2023 contained an additional $55 million in spending towards Canada’s immigration system including amortisation for IRCC and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to implement biometrics as well as  expand eligibility for the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) Program to travellers from low-risk countries.

Statistics

In this most recent budget, the Canadian government was tasked with acting decisively to promote long-term, productivity-led growth and tackle major affordability issues, beginning with the country’s housing problem. The people of Canada hoped that the government would prioritise maintaining fiscal discipline in Budget 2024, with the expectation that it would contribute to further easing inflation. This, in turn, could provide the Bank of Canada with the flexibility to consider cutting interest rates. Lower interest rates would help alleviate the burden of household borrowing costs and stimulate investment in the economy. 

In Budget 2024, there is a proposal to raise program spending by $5.3 billion for the fiscal year 2024-25, and by $30.6 billion from the fiscal years 2025-26 through 2028-29. This includes allocations of $10 billion over the next five years for defence, $8.5 billion for various housing initiatives, and $4.8 billion for the new Canada Disability Benefit. Additionally, revenue projections anticipate an increase of $14.4 billion for the fiscal year 2024-25, and $43.4 billion from the fiscal years 2025-26 through 2028-29. These revenue increases are attributed partly to higher growth forecasts in the short term and partly to tax measures.

Affordable Housing

Minister Freeland and Prime Minister Trudeau announced federal measures to address the housing affordability crisis, focusing on millennials and generation z, who often face high housing costs in Canada.

Aligning immigration with housing in Canada

The forthcoming Immigration Levels Plan for 2025-2027 will introduce temporary resident targets for the first time. These targets will encompass temporary workers and international students. The government anticipates a decrease of up to 600,000 temporary residents over the next three years, aiming to alleviate pressure on Canada’s constrained housing supply.

Productivity-led growth

Canada is grappling with a persistent productivity challenge, largely attributed to low levels of business investment. The current situation is particularly concerning, as per-capita GDP has declined in five out of the last six quarters, dropping by 1.7% in 2023. Budget 2024 introduces several measures aimed at addressing this issue and promoting productivity-led growth. One notable initiative is a $2.4 billion investment over five years in Canada’s artificial intelligence future. This investment package focuses on enhancing computing power, bringing new technologies to market, supporting small businesses and non-traditional sectors in implementing AI solutions, and establishing an AI Safety Institute of Canada.

In conclusion, the government’s budget allocation of $53 billion towards housing affordability, defence, and labor force productivity, coupled with initiatives such as the $50 million investment in the Foreign Credential Recognition Program, underscores its commitment to addressing key socio-economic challenges while also recognizing the vital contribution of newcomers to Canada’s economy. This comprehensive approach aims to not only enhance opportunities for newcomers in finding affordable housing and employment but also underscores the potential for significant economic growth and social integration over the coming years.

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