The government of Canada has approved an expansion of Canada’s existing visa sponsorship scheme, allowing for a maximum of 2,000 more permanent residents to come to the country.
The government’s Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander, told a press conference on Thursday that the new program would allow for an increase in the number of permanent residents allowed into Canada, which has been in a recession.
The expansion would see the number eligible for Canada’s first-class visas, which are awarded to high-skilled workers, increase from 2,700 to 2,800.
Canada has welcomed around 1.1 million refugees since it entered the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis in the 1990s, with more than 10,000 arriving in the country each day.
The announcement came in response to a proposal by the New Democratic Party (NDP) to introduce a temporary halt to Canada’s sponsorship program, which would see all refugees who have arrived in Canada before March 1st of 2019 lose their permanent residence.
Alexander said he was concerned that a temporary moratorium on the sponsorship of refugees would undermine the government’s efforts to reduce the flow of people into the country, but he said the temporary moratorium was not a permanent ban.
“The question that we’re trying to answer is, ‘Why should we not increase our refugee intake, when we know that those numbers will increase?'” he said.
Canada’s immigration minister, Chris Evans, told reporters the government is “encouraged” that the NDP is trying to find a compromise on a temporary temporary ban.
The NDP said it would support a temporary suspension of the sponsorship program if it is enacted by the government.
Alexander has said he is not interested in suspending the program.
“We want to make sure that we have the best possible solution to the refugee crisis that we can, which is the continued flow of Canadians,” he said at a press briefing on Thursday.
“If we don’t have a solution, we will continue to make a contribution to that problem.
If we are not going to be able to have a sustainable solution, then we will not have a problem.”