On February 14, 2022, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Sean Fraser announced that the Canadian government is aiming to welcome approximately 432,000 refugees to Canada in 2022.
During this parliament meeting, Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan was presented, and it anticipates that Canada will welcome 431,645 permanent residents in 2022, followed approximately by 447,000 in 2023, and another 451,000 residents in 2024. This ambitious plan is designed to fill labor gaps in the Canadian job market, with 56 percent of the permanent resident spots being reserved for frontline workers.
Fraser told the Globe and Mail that the COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on how valuable immigrants are to Canada’s success, as many newly welcomed residents end up in front-line occupations and many of these sectors desperately need staff.
“When I talk to restaurants, machine shops, health care providers, or virtually any other business, I see help-wanted signs in windows. By launching what is the most ambitious immigration plan in the history of Canada, we are going to equip the Canadian economy with the workers it needs.”
Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan will change the design of the intake in 2022, with the percentage of economic and skilled immigrants down from 60 percent to 56 percent. The number of permanent residents under the family class will also fall from 26 percent to 24 percent, while the percentage of refugees will go from 14 to 20 percent.
Although Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024 reduces the share of economic migrants to Canada, the government will continue to focus on the importance of family reunification and aim to maintain the 12-month processing standard for spouses and children.
Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan doesn’t come without some setbacks. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a staggering backlog has materialized, creating long wait times for application approval, and delays that are impacting the number of people who are approved for permanent residence in Canada. Last year, the Canadian government announced that it would spend $85 million dollars which will be used to hire more staff to get back on track and plow through the backlog.
Fraser hopes that hiring more staff will clear the backlog of permanent resident applications by 2022, and assist in processing new applications quicker than in the past. According to CTV News, Fraser promised that the government’s website will be updated with more precise processing times so that people will have an idea of how long their application will take to be completed.
A pilot project which allowed 10 to 20 percent of permanent resident applicants to file digitally will also be expanded. Hopefully, by summer 2022, all permanent resident applications will be directed to the digital intake, which will eliminate paper forms except for those who still require them.
The immigration minister stated that the modern system will be impactful, “This tool also provides a confirmation that your application has been submitted, so you have something you can rely on. It’s going to make a big difference.”
It has not yet been addressed if virtual ceremonies and electronic oaths for Canada’s newcomers will be instated as a temporary measure during the pandemic or as a permanent fixture on the path to Canadian citizenship. As of the writing of this article, approximately 60,000 people approved for citizenship waiting for a ceremony.
Fraser hopefully revealed, “We will be having conversations to ensure that we administer the system in a way that improves efficiency, but at the same time doesn’t deny those people who want to take part in a formal ceremony and be welcomed into the Canadian family in that traditional way.”
With any luck, the plans the Canadian government will set in motion in 2022 will help clear the backlog the immigration department suffered due to the pandemic, ensure our workforce is properly supported, welcome many more residents to Canada, and support the reunification of families as intended. The result will be plenty of happy new Canadians, a strong workforce, and growth for Canada’s economy.
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