2022 in review and looking ahead: immigration and related issues

2022 was characterized, in many ways, by the failure of governments to anticipate and respond to changed circumstances. Whether it be backlogs in immigration, citizenship and passports, or the overall failure of governments to address pressures on housing, healthcare and infrastructure, virtually every level of government failed to some extent.

What has been encouraging has been greater public commentary on the need for governments to address these pressures (externalities) even if the most governments remain in denial or at least silent, with the current approach, across all governments save Quebec, being the “more the merrier,” both permanent and temporary residents.

As I recently argued, the government’s Annual Report on Immigration needs to include a discussion of these externalities as well as including temporary residents in its planning and targets.

I have continued my monthly updates of immigration-related programs and have been pleased to work with the Institute for Canadian Citizenship in making some of this data more easily accessible. Summary of the recovery across programs below, comparing January-October 2022 with full year 2018, showing already well ahead of 2018 in most programs.

Issues I expect to continue following are foreign interference by governments like China, Iran and Russia, exploitation of international students and ill-guided policies that make this more-and-more a lower-skilled immigration stream, the contrast between Ukrainian refugees and others, the ongoing federal-provincial immigration arguments over relative shares, and, of course, the evolution of public opinion on immigration-related issues.

It will also be interesting to see whether or not the the proposed class action lawsuit by Black public servants is allowed to proceed along with the complaint to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights. Whenever I look at the numbers (and will do so again in 2023), Black representation is relatively better than South Asian, Chinese, and Filipino for the EX category, and better than all other groups overall, although there are significant differences among the different occupations. 

The other broader development to watch will be the expected revision of the Employment Equity Act, an act that has, IMO, facilitated and resulted in increased diversity among designated groups.

Citizenship will remain a focus and I am still waiting for the revised citizenship study guide to be released (under the fourth immigration minister!). It will also be interesting to see if the government fulfills its campaign commitment in both the 2019 and 2021 elections to eliminate citizenship fees (that were increased 5 fold by the previous government). Given the current financial pressures, will be interesting to see if the government walks that commitment back, implement it in the forthcoming budget, or do nothing and assume no one will notice (not placing any bets but inaction is the most likely outcome).

I have requested a number of citizenship Census specialized data sets to allow me to update and track change compared to 2016, looking at variety of socioeconomic factors and outcomes.

Lastly, some good news, the complete switch of attitude among political leaders in Hérouxville, the small town that convulsed Quebec with its 2007 xenophobic code of conduct for immigrants, to welcoming immigrants given demographics. Overtime, will likely have broader reverberations and somewhat weaken the differences between Montreal and the regions.

Lastly, on a personal note, we became grandparents for the first time, welcoming a new life into our family.

Best wishes for the holidays and will restart up in January.

Article roundup


Is birth tourism about to return now that travel restrictions have been lifted (Policy Options, 2022), my annual update, showing a further decline compared to pre-pandemic numbers, given the legacy of Canadian travel and Chinese government restrictions.

Disconnect between political priorities and service delivery (The Hill Times, 2022), commentary on a “missing link” between policy and service delivery/implementation.

Passport delays risk undermining our trust in government (The Star, 2022), op-ed on the passport delivery fiasco.


Has immigration become a third rail in Canadian politics? (Policy Options, 2022), my latest, arguing for improvements in the annual levels plan to incorporate temporary workers and include considerations of the externalities of housing, healthcare and infrastructure impacts.

Public opinion on migration could sour amid food insecurity and climate change (Policy Options, 2022), This commentary was developed in the context of a Ditchley conference on food insecurity.

How the government used the pandemic to sharply increase immigration (Policy Options, 2022) My analysis of the government’s actions.

Diversity and Employment Equity

Do MPs represent Canada’s diversity? (Policy Options, 2022) Written jointly with Jerome Black, this analysis confirmed ongoing increases in political representation.

Forthcoming articles early in the new year will look at the political impact of increased diversity at the federal riding level and a comparison of provincial government political representation for the last two provincial elections.

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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