Immigration Minister, Sean Fraser indicated that temporary programs or measures introduced in 2021 may continue even after the pandemic ends. Rational for these measures to stay is because they helped the government meet its record targets this year.
Minister Fraser mentioned this in an interview with The Canadian Press published on December 23. Canada met target of welcoming record 401,000 immigrants in 2021 by relying on temporary residents already in Canada due to pandemic.
Only some (<30%) of the new permanent residents came to Canada via pre-pandemic pathways of immigration. While Canada converted approximately 90,000 temporary residents already in Canada via TR to PR pathway.
However, Immigration Minister did not point towards “TR to PR pathway” in this interview, but he did mention the “guardian angels” program as one of the example. This program allows asylum claimants working in health-care sector to apply for permanent residency.
He said that when temporary visas expire, employers need to find new candidates to train and fill the job that person just left. So, converting temporary residents into permanent residents is certainly helping in addressing this problem by making temporary resident into a permanent resident.
Furthermore, Fraser added that bringing new immigrants into Canada is a major pillar of the government’s plan to address the country’s labour shortage, but the economic argument for keeping temporary residents is equally strong.
He also said that government needs to do a little more analysis before committing to a particular pathway. Recently, PM Trudeau in his mandate letter to immigration minister asked to continue the current approach. Canada’s target for 2022 is even higher hoping to welcome 411,000 immigrants.
He also said that the traditional immigration streams will pick up, once the pandemic improves and restrictions ease on international borders. Government will not abandon pre-pandemic immigration streams. We (INC) believe that this could be in reference to Express Entry FSW as there hasn’t been a draw since December 2020.
On the issue of backlog that Sean Fraser, he called the funding a bridge to help officials process more applications faster while the department finishes the work of digitizing its archaic system.
He further added that the work on digitizing the records has already started, but it could be a few years before the system is fully up and running. Immigration Minister expects that bridge funding and efficiency digital system will allow IRCC to keep up the high numbers of newcomers in rest of the pandemic.
Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia Freeland has allocated $85 million in the next fiscal year to deal with the backlog. Minister Fraser expressed his vision where he is looking at a system where spousal applicants will be able to check their status online.
“I think that we’ve learned some things during this pandemic that we will be able to adopt on a go-forward basis. We are in the midst of the most important modernization of Canada’s immigration system since its inception. Should the government have a desire to grow further from there, I anticipate we will have the capacity to do much more even than we are today at an all-time record pace. The people who are new to the country are providing a little bit of extra fuel to the economy. The people who are here now that are being made permanent residents are certainly preventing the problem from getting worse.”Immigration Minister, Hon’ble Sean Fraser