Canada should ‘re-engineer’ immigration based on lessons from Syrian refugee process: minister
The Liberal government plans to apply the lessons it learned from bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada to speed up processing times for family class immigration, economic immigrants and refugee claimants, Immigration Minister John McCallum said Thursday.
“We have to re-engineer our whole department in terms of the processes we follow, the speed at which we do it — and we can draw on the experience we’ve just had with the refugees,” said McCallum in a speech at the Metropolis Conference, an annual national conference on immigration issues in Toronto.
“The people in my department, they learned how to do processes concurrently rather than consecutively. They learned how to do things quicker. They learned how to drop certain parts of processes that weren’t really needed,” he explained after describing the processing times for family class immigration as “a mess.”
Canadians and permanent residents looking to bring a dependent child to Canada must wait an average of 16 months for their application to be processed, while those who wish to sponsor a spouse or partner face an average processing time of 17 months, according to the website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Processing of sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents takes more than four years.
“We want to reform our own economic immigrant processes,” added McCallum. The government plans to consult with provincial governments on the matter and will look into handing more control over the selection of economic migrants to the provinces, he explained.
McCallum also said that the government will consider the provinces’ views on immigration schemes for low-skilled migrants, making it easier for international students to settle in Canada, and whether there is a need for Labour Market Impact Assessments, which must be completed by businesses to prove no Canadians are willing to take a job for which they plan to hire a foreign worker.
The comments come after the federal government’s announcement that it plans to review the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Businesses across the country have expressed serious concerns about how restrictions on the scheme are making it harder for them to hire foreigners for low skilled jobs that Canadians are unwilling to fill.
The speech, in which McCallum also discussed the government’s efforts to integrate the 25,000 Syrian refugees that have been brought to Canada, was well received by the crowd of settlement workers, researchers and provincial policy makers, with dozens approaching the Minister afterwards for selfies.