31 December 2021
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently revealed some new and improved priorities for Canada immigration policy. The immigration policy changes issued by the PM in the mandate letter will guide the Canadian immigration system. The new Canada immigration policy will be implemented by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) under the new Canadian immigration minister Sean Fraser. The immigration policy changes will impact federal as well as provincial immigration.
Summary of changes in Canada immigration policy
- Application processing: Reduction of the time taken during processing applications and addressing delays impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic
- Express Entry: Creation of permanent residence pathways using Express Entry for temporary foreign workers and international students
- Family reunification: Introduction of electronic applications for family reunification and implementation of a system that offers temporary residence to children and spouses abroad while their permanent residence applications are being processed
- Municipal Nominee Program: The new Municipal Nominee Program will be created to promote a broad issuance of immigration throughout Canada. Its formulation was previously delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, immigration is also being ensured to support medium and small-sized communities better.
- Canadian citizenship application fees: The Canadian citizenship application fees are to be waived to make the program easily accessible to everyone.
- Permanent residence to healthcare workers: Permanent residence pathways are being provided to those people who have been offered essential healthcare in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. People who worked in medical facilities, long-term health care homes, or who performed essential tasks are eligible for this program.
- Establishment of a Trusted Employer system: The Employment Minister is establishing a Trusted Employer system for Canadian organizations that hire temporary foreign workers. Additionally, the Global Talent Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is being improved. This new system will simplify work permit renewals, uphold two-week processing time as the standard and establish a hotline for employers.
- Undocumented workers: The status of undocumented workers is being regularized in Canada after building on the existing pilot programs.
- Francophone immigration: The national Francophone immigration strategy is being promoted. The government will keep working with Quebec and support the knowledge of French in immigrants.
- Afghan refugees: Canada has a goal to resettle around 40,000 Afghan refugees in the country.
- Responsible and compassionate entry in ports: The management of the ports of Canada to facilitate responsible and compassionate entry in Canada.
- Protection of workers vulnerable in the pandemic: The Disability Inclusion, Workforce Development, and the Minister of Employment are working to protect workers that are prone to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This program aims to secure workers and fill the labor needs in the food processing and farming industry.
Canada has witnessed a rise in immigration since 2015
Since 2015, when Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal party assumed power, they have been pursuing a strategy to drive higher immigration levels aggressively. These efforts have entailed an increase in immigration from 300,000 arrivals to over 400,000 arrivals per year. In the recent meeting that took place in October 2021 between associations that represent Canadian immigration consultants and lawyers, and IRCC, it was unveiled that the department is currently focussing on three priorities. These are offering Afghan refugees a safe environment in Canada, reuniting families, and achieving a 401,000 arrivals target in the year 2021. With this new mandate presented by the PM, IRCC is expected to expand its priorities for the upcoming months.
Immigration is central to Canada’s society and economy
Even though the new supplementary mandate letter does not include any surprises that were not expected, it outlines the goals of the Canadian government explicitly. The Canadian government has already been pursuing these goals since it assumed power. The PM’s mandate letter supplements the goals that were outlined in the mandate letter issued in December 2019 which is currently being pursued by the IRCC. The underlying focus of the mandate letter is that Canada is and will continue to pursue operating its immigration system to drive immigration. It is working at its maximum capacity during the pandemic so that it can harness the talents and skills of newcomers in Canada to support the economic recovery of Canada once the global COVID-19 pandemic ends.