Budget 2021: Immigration and Multiculturalism/Anti-racism

Overall, significant increases in immigration and multiculturalism/anti-racism program spending, with the relevant budget section excerpts below. Encouraging that IRCC’s IT infrastructure modernization (GCMIS) received multi-year funding.

Most coverage to date has focussed on IRCC and immigration (see CIC news summary below).

What’s not there:

  • Citizenship fee elimination: The government has apparently decided not to implement its 2019 election commitment to waive citizenship fees; and,
  • International students: No measures to assist universities and colleges deal with the fall in revenues and other impact.

Some highlights of the multiculturalism/anti-racism measures:

  • $172 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, with $36.3 million ongoing, to Statistics Canada to implement a Disaggregated Data Action Plan that will fill data and knowledge gaps. 
  • $200 million to establish a fund to combat anti-Black racism and improve social and economic outcomes in Black communities.
  • $126.7 million over three years to prevent racism and discrimination in health-care systems. This funding will support patient advocates, health system navigators, and cultural safety training for medical professionals.
  • $75 million over five years, and $13.5 million ongoing, to the RCMP to combat systemic racism through new recruitment and training processes, community engagement and other measures.

CIC News summary:

The Canadian government has just tabled its first Budget since 2019.

This major announcement usually takes place in the first quarter of each year, however it did not take place last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Canadian federal budget receives a lot of attention domestically since it contains the policy priorities the government will pursue, the government’s spending and revenue projections, as well as an overview of the state of the Canadian economy.

Today’s Budget is of added importance for several reasons. It is the first in two years due to the unprecedented times we are living in. Moreover, the ruling Liberal party has a minority government, and is rumored to be considering calling an early election in 2021, which means it may need to rely on the Budget to convince Canadians to give them a majority.

Sometimes, the Budget contains major Canadian immigration policy announcements.

For example, Budget 2014 proposed terminating the popular federal Immigrant Investor Program and Entrepreneur Program. That same Budget outlined that the federal government would invest millions of dollars to ensure that Express Entrywould successfully launch in January 2015.

Here are the immigration priorities outlined in Budget 2021. It is important to note that these are proposals and the Budget needs to win the approval of the majority of Parliament for the Liberals to go ahead and pursue these priorities. It is likely that Parliament will pass this Budget since defeating it would trigger an election— an outcome that Canada’s federal parties likely do not want while the country continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly $430 million to modernize IT infrastructure

Perhaps the most important immigration proposal in the Budget is a nearly $430 million investment the federal government would like to make to modernize its information technology (IT) infrastructure. The Budget calls for the investment to replace the Global Case Management System (GCMS), which is used to manage immigration applications. The purpose of the investment, according to the Budget, includes allowing the federal government to respond to higher levels of foreign national arrivals in the future, better security, and improved application processing.

Reforms to Express Entry

The Budget notes that the federal government has an eye towards reforming Express Entry. The government would like to give the immigration minister more authority to “select those candidates who best meet Canada’s labour market needs.” What these changes may entail are not specified in the Budget.https://9c6b1105c6868e5597d2724aa137db10.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Express Entry is the main way that Canada selects economic class immigrants. It accounts for about one-quarter of all the immigrants Canada welcomes each year.

Enhancements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Budget calls for some $110 million in additional spending over the next three years on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The spending will go towards providing information and support to vulnerable foreign workers, increased inspections of employers to ensure they are treating foreign workers well, and improving service delivery to vulnerable workers so they can obtain open work permits if they have been abused by their previous employers in Canada.

Supporting Racialized Newcomer Women

Newcomer women sometimes face barriers to employment in Canada due to factors such as developing English or French skills, lack of Canadian experience, lack of affordable child care, and discrimination. The Budget proposes an additional $15 million in spending over the next two years to build on existing initiatives aimed at helping to improve the employment outcomes and career advancement of newcomer women.

Accelerated Pathways to Permanent Residence

Budget 2021 references the new immigration programs launched by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) last week to provide accelerated permanent residence pathways to essential workers and international graduates this year. Some 90,000 individuals living in Canada will be able to begin to apply for permanent residence beginning on May 6.

Source: https://www.cicnews.com/2021/04/budget-2021-what-it-means-for-canadian-immigration-0417836.html#gs.ynuthh

Budget immigration and multiculturalism/anti-racism sections

Immigration section

Diversity is our strength, including as a source of our economic strength. Net immigration contributed to half of Canada’s average GDP growth from 2016 to 2019, and nearly three quarters of its growth in 2019.

As our workforce ages, immigration ensures the Canadian economy continues to grow, that we attract more top talent and investment capital, and that we continue to create good jobs. Welcoming immigrants is an important part of Canada’s recovery.

A well-functioning immigration plan also enriches our communities, reunites families, and provides protection to asylum seekers and refugees.

Budget 2021 puts forward proposals that would ensure Canada stays competitive with its international partners and is prepared to take advantage of the resumption and growth in global travel, post-pandemic. The federal government also recognizes that Quebec shares responsibility for immigration and that certain initiatives will not apply to applicants seeking to reside in Quebec.page218image56412192

Delivering a Modern Immigration Platform

  • The digital infrastructure that supports Canada’s immigration system must be responsive and sustainable to ensure public confidence and support growing visitor, immigration, and refugee levels. A secure, stable, and flexible enterprise- wide digital platform that protects people’s information will improve application processing and help Canada remain a destination of choice.
  • Budget 2021 proposes to invest $428.9 million over five years, with
    $398.5 million in remaining amortization, starting in 2021-22, to develop and deliver an enterprise-wide digital platform that would gradually replace the legacy Global Case Management System. This will enable improved application processing and support for applicants, beginning in 2023.

Enhancing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

  • For over 50 years, temporary foreign workers have been coming to Canada to help meet the needs of businesses. Recently, the pandemic has highlighted the critical role that these workers—the vast majority of whom are racialized and precariously employed—play in Canada’s economy, particularly at the farms that feed Canada and the world.
  • To build on recent actions taken in 2020 to support temporary foreign workers affected by COVID-19, the Government of Canada will continue to protect our most vulnerable and isolated workers, ensuring their health, safety, and quality of life are protected while working in Canada. To this end, Budget 2021 proposes to provide:
  • $49.5 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Employment and Social Development Canada, to support community-based organizations in the provision of migrant worker-centric programs and services, such as on-arrival orientation services and assistance in emergency and at-risk situations, through the new Migrant Worker Support Program.
  • $54.9 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Employment and Social Development Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, to increase inspections of employers and ensure temporary foreign workers have appropriate working conditions and wages.
  • $6.3 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, to support faster processing and improved service delivery of open work permits for vulnerable workers, which helps migrant workers in situations of abuse find a new job. The government has zero tolerance for any abuse of workers.page219image56589760page219image56587680page219image56587472page219image56589136

Supporting Racialized Newcomer Women

  • Many newcomer women face multiple barriers to employment, including language, lack of Canadian experience, and in some cases gender- and race- based discrimination. In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada launched a three-year pilot to support employment-related services for racialized newcomer women, such as networking opportunities, employment counselling, and paid work placements.
  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $15 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to extend the Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot initiative, which will continue to improve their employment outcomes and career advancement.

Accelerated Pathways to Permanent Residence

  • Canada’s immigration system is critical to supporting the economic recovery. That is why the Government of Canada recently announced the introduction of time-limited pathways to permanent residence for foreign nationals already in Canada. This includes recent international graduates and workers in essential occupations, such as health care or other critical sectors. These pathways would not only help retain the talent of those already in Canada, but would also recognize the significant contribution to Canada—and personal sacrifice—these workers have made during the pandemic. In Quebec, which shares responsibility for immigration, this initiative will not apply.

Streamlining Express Entry

  • Canada’s Express Entry system has been in place since 2015. It has a track record of bringing in highly skilled immigrants who succeed in Canada’seconomy and society. These newcomers fill needs in our economy that are critical for our growth and create shared prosperity for all. StreamliningCanada’s Express Entry system will allow the government to ensure our immigration system responds to Canada’s growing economic and labour force needs and help Canada reach its 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan.
  • The Government of Canada intends to propose amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to provide the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada with authority to use Ministerial Instructions to help select those candidates who best meet Canada’s labour market needs from among the growing pool of candidates who wish to become permanent residents through the Express Entry System.

Multiculturalism/Anti-racism

7.1 Fighting Systemic Racism and Empowering Communities

Systemic racism can have devastating consequences for the well-being of Canadians. Violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion from opportunities, and myriad expressions of unconscious bias deny Canadians their freedoms and fair treatment. A more equitable and inclusive society demands all Canadians come together to address racism in all its forms and make permanent and transformative changes.

In the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the federal government announced a series of policies and programs to fight against systemic racism and empower racialized communities. These were early steps.

Budget 2021 takes the next steps towards long-term, foundational change. Canada can and will do more to support racialized communities, improve understanding of racial inequities and barriers, build a more diverse and inclusive federal public service, and work with partners to build a more equal and just future.

Strengthening the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and Helping Communities Respond to an Increase in Racism

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unequal impact on Canadians, with the increase in reports of harassment and attacks against Asian Canadians being an especially disturbing trend.

The work to address systemic racism is ongoing and must be done alongside engaged and knowledgeable partners. Their invaluable on-the-ground knowledge, experiences, learned best practices, and networks are crucial in the work to create foundational change. And their efforts can effectively bring Canadians together in the common purpose of building a fairer, safer, and more equal Canada where all are free from discrimination.

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation is a Crown corporation created in 1996, as part of the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement. The foundation has a quarter century of history working to eliminate racism, reaffirm the principles of justice and equality for all in Canada, and uphold the principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Over the past year, the foundation has focused on supporting specific racialized communities impacted by dramatically rising cases of racism. In Vancouver, for example, there has been a 700 per cent increase in reported cases of anti-Asian racism since the pandemic began.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $11 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to expand the impact of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. This investment would allow the Canadian Race Relations Foundation to scale up efforts to empower racialized Canadians and help community groups combat racism in all its forms. This investment will also enable the foundation to facilitate initiatives like the establishment of a national coalition to support Asian Canadian communities, and create a fund to support all racialized communities directly impacted by increasing acts of racism during the pandemic.

All Canadians should feel safe and be free of discrimination. Sadly, certain people are at risk of racially motivated violence, threatening their personal safety and the security of their communities.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $2 million in 2021-22 to Public Safety Canada to enhance its Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program. This program helps protect communities at risk of hate-motivated crimes, by providing not-for-profit organizations such as places of worship, schools, and community cultural centres with funding to enhance their security infrastructure.page228image56375312page228image56369904

Supporting Black Canadian Communities

Events over the last year have shone a light on the complex and unique lived realities of Black Canadians. Data show that Canada’s Black population remains one of the most disadvantaged, with a higher prevalence of low-income households, lower employment rates compared to the Canadian average, as well as a much higher likelihood of discriminatory treatment at work.

COVID-19 has only exacerbated these inequities linked to anti-Black racism, and many Black Canadian communities, and the organizations that support them, are increasingly vulnerable to economic hardship.

To continue to support the work of community organizations that empower, advocate for, and lift up Black Canadians:

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $200 million in 2021-22 to Employment and Social Development Canada to establish a new Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund. This fund would be led by Black Canadians and would create a sustainable source of funding, including for Black youth and social purpose organizations, and help combat anti-Black racism and improve social and economic outcomes in Black communities.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $100 million in 2021-22 to the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative at Employment and Social Development Canada.page229image56261872page229image56258128

The Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative

The Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative is administered by Employment and Social Development Canada. The program supports capacity-building of Black-led non-profit organizations so they can better serve Black Canadian communities.

Organizations that recently received funding include:

  • Black Wellness Cooperative of Nova Scotia (Bedford, Nova Scotia): This organization provides expertise, knowledge, and training to promote health, wellness, and fitness among the African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq communities.
  • Association Francophone de Brooks (Brooks, AB): 90 per cent of the francophone community of Brooks is of African origin. This organization offers activities for young people, community celebrations, and social activities for families in the francophone community of Brooks.
  • Youth Stars Foundation (Montréal, QC): This organization supports vulnerable youth populations, including Black youth, by offering a variety of programs and workshops that use the arts, sports, dance, and music to foster life skills, promote self-esteem, and strengthen interpersonal skills.

Mobilizing the reach and expertise of community-based organizations is an important tool for empowering Black communities and confronting systemic economic barriers. It also ensures that federal investments best serve the needs of their communities. New research published by the Network for the Advancement of Black Communities and Carleton University found that Black- led and Black-serving charities receive significantly less grant funding than other charities in Canada.

Better Data for Better Outcomes

For every Canadian to reach their full potential, we need to properly understand the circumstances in which people live and the barriers they face. We cannot improve what we cannot measure.

At present, Canada lacks the detailed statistical data that governments, public institutions, academics, and advocates need in order to take fully informed policy actions and effectively address racial and social inequities. From a detailed understanding of demographic trends to economic and employment data, Statistics Canada has a vital role to play in providing the evidence-based foundation upon which good, effective policies can be built—policies that bring the impacts on marginalized groups into the heart of decision-making.

Journalists and researchers have long worked to tell the stories of where and why disparities in our society exist—whether among racialized groups or the power gap that exists between men and women that leads women’s careers to stall. Better disaggregated data will mean that investigative efforts or research projects like this will have more and better data to analyze.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $172 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, with $36.3 million ongoing, to Statistics Canada to implement a Disaggregated Data Action Plan that will fill data and knowledge gaps. This funding will support more representative data collection, enhance statistics on diverse populations, and support the government’s, and society’s, efforts to address systemic racism, gender gaps—including the power gaps between men and women—and bring fairness and inclusion considerations into decision making.

Building on other investments in Budget 2021, this provides a combined $250 million over five years to Statistics Canada, ensuring Canada has the data it needs to make evidence-based decisions across priorities including disaggregated data, health, quality of life, the environment, justice, and business and the economy.page230image56253344

To modernize Canada’s justice system, support evidence-based policies, and ensure accountability within the criminal justice system, the government needs to update and fill gaps in its collection and use of data.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $6.7 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $1.4 million ongoing, to Justice Canada and Statistics Canada to improve the collection and use of disaggregated data. This is part of ongoing efforts to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples and racialized groups in the justice system.

Comprehensive academic research enhances our understanding of the causes of discrimination, the impact of oppression on Canadians and our communities, and strategies to support greater justice, equity, and accountability.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $12 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to fund academic research into systemic barriers facing diverse groups. This research will help inform actions to address social disparities related to race, gender, and other forms of diversity.

Making the Public Service More Diverse

Canadians should have confidence that their public sector workforce is representative of the communities it serves. In the 2020 Speech from the Throne, the government committed to implementing an action plan to increase diversity in hiring and appointments within the public service.

Budget 2021 proposes amendments to the Public Service Employment Act to affirm the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce and avoid biases and barriers in hiring.

Source: https://www.budget.gc.ca/2021/report-rapport/toc-tdm-en.html

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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