ARCHIVED – Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, 2008

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Section 1
Making Immigration Work for Canada

Canada has long been a destination of choice for immigrants. It has one of the highest per capita rates of permanent immigration in the world—roughly 0.8 percent in recent years—and has welcomed 3.5 million immigrants in the last 15 years. As one of the world’s major immigrant-receiving countries, Canada is a leader in granting newcomers the full range of rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship. In 2006, about 85 percent of permanent residents who were eligible for Canadian citizenship had acquired that status.[note 1] Canada has also been active in the resettlement of refugees and has played an important role in efforts to manage global migration. Maintaining this position in the coming years will require a significant commitment on Canada’s part to ensure that its policies and programs are innovative, responsive and efficient, and that it contributes to effective responses to global challenges.

In contributing to Canada’s economic prosperity, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) seeks to address pressing labour market and employer needs for workers in the short term, while helping to maintain an adaptable and competitive labour force over the long term. The world has a limited pool of highly skilled labour, and Canada is in competition with other industrialized countries for qualified workers. At the same time, certain sectors, industries and regions of the country are generating a high demand for low-skilled workers, who are currently in short supply.

Efforts to meet economic needs must go hand in hand with the goal of building Canada as a nation and integrating newcomers into the social and cultural life of the country. The challenges faced by newcomers are many, be it proficiency in English and/or French, recognition of their credentials and work experience acquired abroad, or lack of familiarity with the norms of the Canadian workplace and society. Through effective, innovative settlement services and by promoting and facilitating the acquisition of citizenship, CIC seeks to ensure a solid foundation for integrating newcomers into Canadian society. Obtaining citizenship is a key step in the integration process for newcomers because it means that they can participate fully in Canadian life.

Despite the success in bringing roughly a quarter of a million new permanent residents to Canada annually over the past few years, there are still many more individuals who would like to come to Canada. In the context of an immigration program that could not limit the intake of applications to be processed, the high demand for immigration has pushed the overall number of people waiting for a decision beyond 925,000. Given this large and growing number, and the annual immigration levels plan tabled in Parliament, the challenge lies in balancing competing demands to process applications properly and in an efficient and timely manner, and to sustain high levels of client satisfaction. At the same time, CIC is committed to the timely processing of visitors, students and temporary workers applying to come to Canada. The volumes for these groups have increased steadily in recent years. The same resources are used for processing both permanent and temporary resident streams, so that increased demand in one stream puts pressure on the other.

As Canada seeks to attract and welcome permanent and temporary residents, CIC has a critical role to play, in partnership with other federal departments, in protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians. Globalization of markets and ease of travel increase risks, ranging from epidemics such as SARS and influenza, to the spread of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, to chronic conditions that can affect the overall health of Canadians. Border security, thwarting acts of terrorism, and tackling transnational organized crime and human trafficking are also significant concerns in the international and domestic environment in which CIC operates, and are essential considerations in the design and implementation of CIC’s policies and programs.

Modernizing Canada’s Immigration System

Canada’s immigration program is taking action to respond to the diverse skill requirements of an expanding and dynamic economy, and to address the growing inventory of applications. This means doing more to meet immediate and regional skills shortages and the longer-term needs of the labour market by attracting and retaining highly qualified and skilled workers. In this regard, the Government has already introduced improvements so that employers across Canada will be able to hire temporary foreign workers (TFWs) more quickly and easily to meet immediate skills shortages. As well, a new avenue to immigration, the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), will allow certain skilled temporary workers and international students with Canadian degrees and Canadian work experience who have demonstrated their ability to succeed in Canada to apply for permanent residence from within the country.

Building on these Advantage Canada [note 2] priorities, Budget 2008 committed $109 million over five years to modernize Canada’s immigration system. The initiatives announced will help reduce wait times, better respond to evolving labour market needs and support the Government of Canada’s immigration objectives. Central to achieving these objectives were amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), introduced on March 14, 2008, and enacted on June 18, 2008, which provided the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration with the authority to issue instructions establishing priorities for the categories of applications that will be processed. These amendments, which also removed the obligation to process all received applications to a decision, will enhance the efficiency of the system by focusing on those applications that are best able to respond to Canada’s labour market needs. The new legislation cannot affect refugee protection, nor is it intended to affect goals for family reunification. CIC will continue to give priority to the processing of applications from sponsored spouses, common-law partners and dependent children.

In order to ensure that current and future instructions remain open, fair and transparent, principles guiding the development and implementation of the instructions were created in April 2008. All instructions issued by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration must adhere to the following principles, which immigration officers must apply in making decisions:

  • identify priority occupations based on input from provinces and territories, the Bank of Canada, Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC), employers and organized labour;
  • ensure fairness by making decisions on cases faster, while meeting immediate labour market needs;
  • respect the goals of IRPA, which are to support Canada’s economy and competitiveness, support family reunification and uphold Canada’s humanitarian commitments;
  • comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which prevents discrimination based on factors such as race, country of origin and religion;
  • respect commitments to provinces and territories regarding the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and the Canada-Quebec Accord;
  • complement commitments made in Advantage Canada, the Government of Canada’s economic plan, to align the immigration system with labour market needs; and
  • be published in the Canada Gazette and CIC’s Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, which is tabled in Parliament each fall.

Ministerial Instructions

Further to joint consultations undertaken in 2007, and as part of the commitments announced in April 2008 in the amendments to IRPA contained in the Budget Implementation Act 2008 (Bill C-50), CIC undertook joint federal-provincial/territorial consultations to support the development of the 2009 immigration levels plan, and to inform ministerial instructions that will establish priorities for processing to increase labour market responsiveness and address the backlog of applications overseas and in Canada. The instructions developed following these consultations were the subject of a full discussion led by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration at the September 5, 2008 meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for immigration.

2007 Levels

In the 2006 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, the Government committed to admitting between 240,000 and 265,000 permanent residents in 2007. While 251,000 visas were issued, 236,758 permanent residents sought admission to Canada in 2007.

It is important to note that CIC controls all but one of the steps that lead to temporary or permanent admission to Canada, namely, when successful applicants and their families decide to travel to Canada. For a number of reasons, not every visa issued results in a person arriving, and in an average year, about 2 percent of visas are not used. Notwithstanding factors outside of CIC’s control, once admissions by the temporary stream are taken into consideration, Canada has in fact received more newcomers in 2007 than ever before. Funding from Budget 2008 will help the Department boost overall capacity to process more applications, enabling it to meet annual target levels, reduce the current backlog, and manage the inventory today and into the future.

Table 3 provides the number of new permanent residents admitted in 2007 under the various immigration categories.

Canada’s Immigration Plan for 2009

CIC’s commitment is to admit new permanent residents in 2009 within a planning range of 240,000 and 265,000 admissions. In this way, Canada’s immigration program will continue to respond to the diverse skill requirements of an expanding and dynamic economy while maintaining the Government’s commitments to support family reunification and humanitarian objectives. The 2009 levels plan sets the upper range of economic admissions higher than in 2008 in order to reflect growth in several economic streams, such as federal skilled workers, Quebec-selected skilled workers and provincial nominees. However, the distribution of admissions across categories in the Economic Class has changed to reflect the changing mix of economic immigration, in particular, as demand for provincial nominees increases.

To meet growing regional needs, the plan aims to admit a record number of provincial nominees.

The plan also includes a number of admissions through the CEC, a new avenue for immigration for certain skilled temporary workers and international students with Canadian degrees and Canadian work experience. Along with expected growth in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the CEC will enhance labour market responsiveness by facilitating the retention of temporary workers and international students who have demonstrated their ability to succeed in Canada.

The implementation of ministerial instructions in the fall will enhance the ability of the immigration system to respond to immediate labour market needs. The instructions will stop the growth of the federal skilled worker (FSW) backlog by allowing CIC to return FSW applications (submitted on or after February 27, 2008) that are not selected for processing, along with fees paid. Because processing is critical for reducing the backlog, instructions will play an important part in achieving reductions in the coming years.

Table 1: Immigration Levels Plan 2009

Immigrant Category 2009 Ranges
  Low High
ECONOMIC CLASS
Federal Skilled Workers 68,200 72,000
Quebec-selected Skilled Workers 28,100 29,100
Federal/Quebec Business 11,000 12,000
Live-in Caregivers 8,000 10,000
Provincial/Territorial Nominees 20,000 26,000
Canadian Experience Class[note 3] 5,000 7,500
Total Economic 140,300 156,600
 
FAMILY CLASS
Spouses, Partners and Children 50,000 52,000
Parents and Grandparents 18,000 19,000
Total Family 68,000 71,000
 
PROTECTED PERSONS
Government-assisted Refugees 7,300 7,500
Privately Sponsored Refugees 3,300 4,500
Protected Persons in Canada 7,000 9,000
Dependants Abroad 6,000 6,200
Total Protected Persons 23,600 27,200
 
OTHERS
Humanitarian and Compassionate/Public Policy 8,000 10,000
Permit Holders 100 200
Total Others 8,100 10,200
TOTAL 240,000 265,000

Critical Partnerships

Because immigration is a shared jurisdiction under the Constitution, provinces play a vital role in ensuring that the program succeeds. Within the federal realm, a number of departments and agencies play key partnership roles in the program. CIC and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) share responsibility for administering IRPA and support each other in carrying out their respective functions. They work closely at the international, national, regional and local levels to ensure effective and efficient program delivery. The CBSA is responsible for managing and running Canada’s ports of entry, and CIC provides support to prevent inadmissible persons from reaching Canada and to detect persons who are in Canada but in contravention of IRPA. In addition to the CBSA, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are key to managing the business of bringing people to Canada, particularly in terms of security and screening. CIC also works closely with the Immigration and Refugee Board[note 4] (IRB) on issues relating to the management of the refugee and immigration portfolio. The IRB is an independent administrative tribunal that adjudicates immigration inadmissibility, detention review, appeals and refugee protection claims made within Canada.

In Canada and overseas, CIC delivers its programs in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), Public Safety Canada and other key organizations involved in managing access to Canada and protecting Canadian society. These organizations include Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, which work with CIC on immigrant health issues. CIC collaborates with HRSDC in managing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and on issues relating to the labour market. The Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO), located in CIC, works closely with HRSDC to strengthen stakeholders’ capacity to recognize foreign credentials. It also works with Service Canada to deliver information, path-finding and referral services to newcomers. CIC works in concert with other government departments, principally Canadian Heritage, DFAIT, Justice Canada and Public Safety Canada, to promote Canadian citizenship and civic practice, and to develop a shared understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in a context of deepening diversity. Finally, CIC works with the Canadian International Development Agency to respond to humanitarian needs and increase international dialogue on migration and development.

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1  Source: 2006 Census of Canada at www12.statcan.ca/english/census/index.cfm.

2  For more information, see www.fin.gc.ca/ec2006/plan/pltoce.html.

3  The planning ranges for the Canadian Experience Class are lower than those for 2008. Projected admissions have been adjusted to reflect the longer-than-anticipated delay in launching the program. Admissions are projected to rise in 2010 and beyond.

4  For further details, see : www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/Eng/Pages/index.aspx.

 

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