Feds consider limiting immigration

High unemployment could affect targets

Rising unemployment and the worsening economy could force the federal government to reconsider its immigration targets.

Ottawa plans to stick to its pledge to accept 240,000 to 265,000 new permanent residents this year, but the worsening recession could lead the government to rethink those numbers in the coming months, said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

Canada's immigration system needs to be sensitive to the changing labour market and avoid welcoming thousands of immigrants who would then face unemployment, he said.

Canada lost 129,000 jobs in January, the largest monthly loss on record, and the unemployment rate increased to 7.2 per cent.

Canada, which welcomed 247,000 permanent residents last year, is the only country that is planning to accept roughly the same number of immigrants in 2009 as in 2008, Kenney told the House of Commons immigration committee.

Federal and provincial immigration officials will meet in March to decide whether the target needs to be adjusted. But Kenney said his preference is to stick with the target because new immigrants will help drive the economy once Canada comes out of this recession.

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