Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

July 03, 2008 16:11 ET

Government of Canada Announces Consultations on Immigration Priorities

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 3, 2008) - The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, today released details of consultations on Canada's immigration priorities, following the passage of changes to Canada's immigration legislation under Budget Bill C-50.

The new immigration law gives the Minister the authority to issue instructions on which categories of applications are prioritized, returned with a refund or held for future consideration.

The new law is intended to stop the growth of the backlog of applicants so that, ultimately, people who want to come to Canada receive a decision within 6 to 12 months instead of the 6 years it can take now. The new law also more closely aligns Canada's immigration system with labour shortages so that immigrants who come to Canada will have more opportunities to find employment in their chosen fields.

The consultations will focus on identifying critical occupational shortages, the role of immigration in responding to them, and any barriers to foreign credential accreditation. They will help develop instructions to immigration officers on which applications are identified for priority processing, particularly in the federal skilled worker category.

"The changes to Canada's immigration law allow us to bring to Canada more quickly those immigrants with the skills that match Canada's labour market needs," said Minister Finley. "We are now consulting to make sure we accurately define those needs. This will help our economy and help newcomers better support their families."

Beginning July 7th, the Department will consult with all provinces and territories, as well as key stakeholders, through a series of face-to-face meetings and videoconferences. A consultation schedule is attached. Representatives from business, labour, and academic and non-government organizations will be invited to these sessions.

The Minister will also consult national stakeholders at a roundtable in August. Other organizations or interested individuals who wish to provide input can submit their feedback online at www.cic.gc.ca until the end of July.

"We committed to consulting across the country and we are delivering on that commitment," said Minister Finley. "I believe this inclusive approach will help identify the categories of workers who get priority, and will allow us to prepare instructions that reflect the knowledge and expertise of the provinces, territories and stakeholders."

Following consultations, the instructions will be published in the Canada Gazette and available on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website at www.cic.gc.ca. They will also be tabled in Parliament as part of the Annual Report on Immigration.

To meet the 2008 immigration plan, which calls for the admission of 240,000 to 265,000 new permanent residents, CIC missions around the world continue to process applications submitted before February 27, 2008, the date the legislation takes effect. With wait times exceeding six years in some categories, few missions are currently processing applications received in 2008, which is expected to be a transition year.

The legislation will not affect agreements with the provinces to process provincial nominees or, in the case of Quebec, Quebec skilled workers. It cannot affect refugee protection, nor is it intended to affect our goals for family reunification. This means CIC continues to process applications in those areas in the usual way.

Applications from federal skilled workers who already have a job arranged for them when they arrive will also be processed. Other applications received on or after February 27, 2008 in the federal skilled worker category will be considered for possible processing once the instructions are issued.

Consultation sessions themselves will not be open to the general public or media. Documents that form the basis of the consultations are attached and available at www.cic.gc.ca.


BACKGROUNDER

CONSULTATIONS ON IMMIGRATION PRIORITIES

Overview

On June 18, 2008, Parliament approved changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to improve Canada's immigration system.

The new law allows the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to issue instructions to prioritize certain categories of applications received on or after February 27, 2008, and to return, unprocessed, applications that do not meet the priorities. It is important to note that our objectives for family reunification and refugee protection will not be affected.

Instructions are meant to achieve three major goals:

- Improve Canada's competitiveness and more closely align the skills of newcomers with Canada's labour shortages

- Ensure that immigration targets are met

- Ensure that the backlog does not grow, and that people who apply to come to Canada receive a decision quickly

The Minister has stated that her instructions will be fair, open and transparent, and will be developed using input from several sources. This summer, Citizenship and Immigration Canada is meeting with provinces and territories, as well as regional and national stakeholders across Canada, to gather some of this input.



Consultation schedule(i) (meetings and videoconferences)

July 7 St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
July 9 Halifax, Nova Scotia
July 10 Fredericton, New Brunswick
July 11 Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
July 15 Vancouver, British Columbia
July 16 Edmonton, Alberta
July 17-18 Winnipeg, Manitoba (and Saskatchewan)
July 21-22 Toronto, Ontario
TBD Northwest Territories
TBD Nunavut
TBD Yukon
August 15 National roundtable

(i) Because Quebec exercises jurisdiction over immigrant selection under
the Canada-Quebec Accord, there are no formal consultation sessions
with this province. Instead, CIC officials will be holding an
information session in Quebec.


Discussion themes

The following themes will form the basis of the consultations:

1. The role of the immigration program in addressing specific labour market needs

2. Occupational pressures in each participants' workplace/industry/sector/region


a. Short term vs. medium term

b. What skill levels do these occupations require

c. What barriers to accreditation must be addressed


3. Federal skilled worker applications filed on or after February 27, 2008: prioritization of those applications meeting labour market needs, return of others

Contact Information

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Minister's Office
    Tim Vail
    Press Secretary
    613-954-1064
    or
    Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Media Relations Unit
    Communications Branch
    613-952-1650
    CIC-Media-Relations@cic.gc.ca