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by Eden Debebe and Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Liberal government has announced plans to bring in more than 1 million immigrants over the next three years, something immigration lawyer Richard Kurland says won’t really change much for people struggling through the application process.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino tabled the 2021‒2023 Immigration Levels Plan last week, stressing the important role new immigrants play in keeping Canada afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[The plan] will help to address some of our most acute labour shortages and to grow our population to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.”

Many critics say the updated plan is more of a way to cover up shortfalls in processing times and intake numbers over the course of COVID-19.

The federal government acknowledged these shortcomings in a press release.

“Global travel restrictions and capacity constraints led to a shortfall in admissions over the last several months.”

While it won’t be clear how short Canada was of its 2020 target until early next year, Syed Hussan with the Migrant Workers Alliance said partial data suggests a likely shortfall of 150,000 people this year — numbers Canada will take most of the next three years to make up.

Under the new plan, 401,000 new permanent residents are expected to be granted status in 2021, increasing to 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023. The previous plan set targets of 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022.

According to Kurland, these numbers show there will be “no change in Canada’s immigration plan for the next three years.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Hussan, who expressed his frustrations over the phone in an interview with Canada’s National Observer.

“[The announcement] shows the government is not actually responding to the needs of migrants or the needs of the economy”.

Kurland also notes the wording of Mendicino’s announcement means the projected numbers of new immigrants won’t actually be new at all, explaining the minister’s reference to economic class migrants means granting status to people already here under temporary visas.

For him, the real winners are “temporary foreign workers already here in Canada and have better chance in their mission to succeed in immigrating to Canada.”

WATCH: Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino discuss the Liberal government’s plans to handle visa processing delays during the COVID-19 pandemic