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Hussen says he wants Canada to accept more refugees as economic immigrants

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen responds to the 2019 Spring Reports of the Auditor General in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says he would like to increase the number of refugees Canada accepts and is pushing for higher refugee numbers every year.

Speaking to participants in a conference marking World Refugee Day today, Hussen said one way to dramatically increase refugee levels is to open up economic immigration streams to refugees — programs they are usually not considered for.

One refugee has already arrived in Canada this way, thanks to a pilot program launched last year that aims to match skilled refugees in Kenya and the Middle East with economic streams like the provincial nominee program.

Hussen says he would like to “massively” ramp up this pilot as a way to bring more refugees to Canada through existing immigration programs.

He and other migration experts say they are concerned about a global rise in rhetoric targeting refugees.

They believe a key way to address this is to stop stereotyping refugees as a drain on resources and instead recognize them as skilled individuals who can help grow Canada’s economy by helping fill worker shortages across the country.

The Canadian Press