How will Canada’s Recent Federal Elections Affect Study Abroad Students?



Canadians hit the polls after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called  for a dissolution of parliament for a snap election. The request was made in the hope of gaining a majority government after winning only a minority in the last 2019 vote. 

Although the next scheduled election was not until 2023, Trudeau was hoping to capitalize on positive attitudes toward his government’s handling of the pandemic following the country’s high vaccination rates and secure a majority government. However Trudeau and his Liberal Party failed again to secure a majority government.

The Liberals will remain in power, and their immigration policies will continue to be implemented by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and other federal departments. The process of the new government establishing itself will take us into the winter holidays which means it likely won’t be until January that the new cabinet finds its footing and begins to put its stamp on immigration policy. As the Liberals have won again, we can expect similar immigration policies as those they have pursued since 2015. The Conservatives also expressed strong support for immigration and oversaw higher immigration levels and the launch of Express Entry when they were last in power. 

The Constitution outlines immigration as an area of shared federal-provincial jurisdiction, with the federal government having the final say. While provinces and territories across Canada are very active in recruiting and settling newcomers, it’s the federal government  that has  control over the nation’s immigration policies. IRCC determines national immigration levels as well as allocations for each province, processing times, and is the largest funder by far of the settlement and integration services offered across the country.

It’s important to note that the Liberals are the current governing party and Marco Mendicino is the federal Immigration Minister. As the Liberals have won a minority, it’s very likely that Mendicino will remain the immigration minister, and priorities contained in his existing mandate letters will be rolled over into the new mandate.

Following the appointment of the Immigration Minister and mandate letter for IRCC, the next big immigration policy event will be the tabling of the 2022-2024 Immigration Levels Plan. It outlines the number of immigrants that IRCC will seek to welcome each year and which categories it will seek to welcome newcomers under, and the allocation of newcomers it’s providing to each province and territory. Following this past September’s election, we should expect the new levels plan by March 2022, however, the announcement itself should simply be a continuation of ongoing efforts to welcome over 400,000 new immigrants to Canada each year. 

Gradually over 2022, we should then see the new cabinet hit its stride and introduce new immigration policies and programs. Regardless of the outcome of September 20, we should expect IRCC and the provinces and territories to continue to invite new immigrants.  This new Liberal cabinet will shape Canada’s immigration system for potentially the next four years. If past years are an indicator, then Canada will be home to many new immigrants and study abroad students for years to come.


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