Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

June 17, 2008 18:57 ET

Changes to Improve Immigration System Pass; Consultations Next Step

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 17, 2008) - The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, welcomed today the support of the Senate and the House of Commons for changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), bringing Canada closer to a fairer and more responsive immigration system.

"Our government believes in immigration," said Minister Finley. "With these changes, we now have the tools in place to strengthen our system so that people with the skills for the jobs available can be brought to Canada more quickly.

"This is good for Canada and good for newcomers, who could have more opportunities to find work sooner, to provide a better life for themselves and their families and to benefit more from life in Canada," Minister Finley added.

The changes were included in Bill C-50, the Budget Implementation Act, 2008, which was adopted by the Senate earlier today. The new law puts greater emphasis on admitting immigrants who have the skills Canada needs. The government will establish processing priorities following consultations with the provinces and stakeholders.

The law will also stop the backlog from growing. Under the old system, Canada was required to process every application through to a final decision. This obligation is now removed. The changes apply only to applications received on or after February 27, 2008, the day after the federal budget was introduced.

There are now 925,000 people waiting up to six years for a decision on their application. Without the bill, the backlog was projected to grow to 1.5 million by 2012, with corresponding wait times of 10 years. The changes bring Canada in line with the practices of countries such as Australia and New Zealand, who are able to welcome skilled immigrants much faster, often in as little as six months.

"Our next step is to launch consultations with provinces, territories and other experts to ensure we accurately define the priorities for immigration," said Minister Finley. "Once we've determined Canada's immigration needs, we can develop a set of instructions to guide the processing decisions of immigration officers, including whether applications are prioritized, retained or returned with a refund."

In addition to being subject to consultations, the instructions will comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect against discrimination. They will also support the objectives of IRPA, ensuring a balance between the economic, family reunification and refugee protection goals of Canada's immigration system. Finally, the instructions will complement the government's annual levels plan, which establishes clear target ranges for the number of permanent residents accepted in each category: economic, family class and protected persons.

"We will continue to uphold our commitments to family reunification and refugee protection," underlined Minister Finley.

Research shows that the demand for qualified workers in Canada is growing. By 2012, immigration is projected to account for all labour force growth in Canada. Two-thirds of the available jobs will require post-secondary education. Jobs that require a university-level education are the fastest growing types of jobs.

Contact Information

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Minister's Office
    Tim Vail
    Press Secretary
    Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Communications Branch
    Media Relations Unit