An aging population and low birth rate means that Canada needs expats more than ever with high immigration levels likely in 2011, according to government officials.

The country expects to have between 240,000 and 265,000 new permanent residents in 2011, the same as for 2010, said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.

‘Canada’s post recession economy demands a high level of legal immigration to keep our workforce strong,’ he said. All of the country’s labour force growth will come from immigration within the next five years, according to the ministry.

Some 25% of newcomers are destined for provinces other than Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec, compared to 11% in 1997, with the Federal Skilled Worker Programme expected to be the most popular means of entry. It admits a range of workers, including technicians, skilled tradespersons, managers and professionals.

Anecdotal evidence suggest that there will be a significant influx of Irish expats as more and more people search for jobs abroad due to the country’s financial crisis and Canada has always been popular with the Irish.

Irishman Eamonn O’Loghlin has set up an online job seekers website with support from the Ireland Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) to help Irish people find jobs and move to Canada. He also publishes a magazine for Irish expats in Canada.

With Canada emerging from the global recession in good shape, it is an increasingly popular destination among young people, says O’Loghlin. The Irish will always receive a good welcome here, he says, making special mention of the Canadian finance minister, Jim Flaherty, who is descended from Irish stock.

He advises young immigrants to be professional, to be prepared and to look the part. ‘Make sure the first two or three sentences in the CV grab the reader because the competition is fierce. You’ve got to be better than the rest.’

Those looking for jobs in Canada include mechanical engineers, IT system analysts, construction managers (the Irish construction sector has been particularly badly hit in the downturn), accountants and marketing executives.

Irish companies are also increasingly looking to the Canadian market, which has shown a lot of resilience in the face of the global economic crisis. More than 220 Irish companies now sell goods and services into Canada, and over 45 Irish companies operate offices and facilities in Canada, according to the ICCC.

Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan, has just led the largest Irish trade mission in history to Canada, visiting Edmonton, Toronto and Ottowa. The focus of the mission was to increase the profile and highlight the achievements of world-class Irish companies who have successfully broken into the Canadian market.

The trade mission cantered around 35 high tech Irish companies who are doing business in Canada and many of companies have secured high profile deals and partnerships worth over €10 million. Bilateral trade between Ireland and Canada is expected to increase by €80 million this year, and sales into Canada by Irish companies have trebled in the past five years.