Canada’s immigration minister provides COVID-19 update

Helpful summary.

Striking that the government and Minister continue to maintain the current plan to accept some 400,000 immigrants this year, despite the ongoing pandemic and travel restrictions, unlikely to ease up quickly until most Canadians are vaccinated late summer or early fall.

Even if the government could meet this target level, highly questionable given that immigrants who arrive during downturns and recessions don’t do as well in the short-term, with some also not doing well in the longer term.

Citizenship, as always, remains a lessor priority for IRCC. While the government has tabled a bill to revise the citizenship oath, the new citizenship guide remains in limbo despite having been announced five years ago (and largely complete according to earlier press reports), and the 2019 commitment to eliminate the fees should have been relatively straightforward to implement quickly:

Canada’s Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino recently shared fresh insights on the state of the country’s immigration system on the Canadian television show, The Agenda.

In a 20-minute interview, Mendicino spoke on a broad range of immigration topics as he explained to viewers how the federal government aims to cope with the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

Topics he discussed included:

  • Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023
  • Canadian citizenship
  • Municipal Nominee Program

Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023

Mendicino stated that the Canadian government had a choice to make following the outbreak of the pandemic. It could pause or reduce immigration. Instead, the country has chosen to welcome immigrants during and after the pandemic to support its prosperity. As such, Canada is aiming to welcome over 400,000 immigrants over the coming years which are the highest targets in its history. Mendicino said this is necessary since immigrants are key to job creation in Canada and also help fill vital labour market needs including in essential services.

When asked if he felt the new targets are realistic given COVID-19 travel restrictions and disruptions, the minister stated he thought they were since Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has been innovating during the pandemic. In addition, the pandemic provides an opportunity for Canada to draw into its domestic population of temporary foreign workers and international students and facilitate their transition to permanent residence.

Canadian Citizenship

Discussing a new pilot program that is enabling eligible permanent residents to complete their Canadian citizenship application online, Mendicino said the process is going well and Canada is the only country to his knowledge offering online citizenship ceremonies.

Mendicino’s vision for the immigration system is for all processes to be virtual and contactless beyond the pandemic.

One of the priorities listed in Mendicino’s December 2019 mandate letter is to waive Canadian citizenship fees. Asked about the status of that pledge, Mendicino acknowledged he had hoped to make progress on this front by now. While he did not state this, the delay in fulfilling this promise is very likely a function of the pandemic. Mendicino said that he is enthusiastic about reducing barriers for newcomers and will have more to say on this issue in the future.

Municipal Nominee Program

Another one of the December 2019 mandate priorities is to launch a Municipal Nominee Program to further help encourage immigrants to settle in Canada’s smaller cities. Pointing to initiatives such as the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, the minister said he believes the MNP will be another federal program that will allow newcomers to pursue fulfilling lives in smaller regions of Canada. IRCC is in the process of consulting with provincial, municipal, business, and other stakeholders on the design of the MNP.

One of the key takeaways of Mendicino’s interview is his assuredness that Canada’s current immigration targets are realistic. This strongly suggests IRCC has a plan in place to achieve the targets, which will likely be through a combination of tapping into the existing pool of immigration candidates with Canadian experience, continuing to select immigrants from abroad and processing their applications so they can arrive after the pandemic, as well as gradually reducing travel restrictions so that those with approvals will eventually be able to move to Canada.

Source: Canada’s immigration minister provides COVID-19 update

Updated IRCC ministerial mandate letter

While the bulk of the letter consists of standard government-wide priorities, the specific ones for IRCC Minister Mendicino are below.

No sign of recognizing the reality that 2021 levels are unlikely to be met given ongoing COVID waves and related travel restrictions, making the “modest and responsible” increases in the previous mandate letter increasingly out of date:

In addition to the priorities set out in my mandate letter to you in 2019, as Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, you will implement on a priority basis the following commitments, as set out in the Speech from the Throne 2020 and building off the investments in the Fall Economic Statement 2020.

  • Continue to bring newcomers to Canada safely to drive economic growth and recovery, as recently set out in the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan, including by:
    • Expanding pilot programming to welcome skilled refugees through economic immigration streams;
    • Continuing to support expedited family reunification; and
    • Continuing work on sectoral and regional pilot programs.
  • Continue to implement measures that create pathways to permanent residency for those who have provided health care in long-term care homes or medical facilities or performed other essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Continue working with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Health to protect the health and safety of Canadians through safe, responsible and compassionate management of the border with the United States and other ports of entry into Canada.
  • Continue exploring pathways to permanent residency and citizenship for temporary foreign workers.
  • Support the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion to continue to fully support and protect workers who are vulnerable to COVID-19 and secure labour to fill workforce gaps in farming and food processing.
  • Continue working with provinces and territories to support high-quality settlement services and facilitate the successful settlement and integration of new Canadians. This includes continuing to support French-language training, while respecting provincial jurisdiction and complementing existing measures, supported by the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages.
  • Support the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Foreign Affairs to implement recommendations and lessons learned from the report of the Special Advisor for Canada’s ongoing response to the Ukraine International Airlines tragedy, including commemorating the lives of the victims and supporting their families, pursuing truth and accountability from Iran, and preventing future disasters through the Safer Skies Initiative.


For handy reference, the 2019 commitments are below:

I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities. In particular, you will:

  • Ensure the effective implementation of Canada’s increased annual Immigration Levels Plan for 2020-2022, attracting more than a million new permanent residents to Canada over that time. This continues our modest and responsible increases to immigration, with a focus on welcoming highly skilled people who can help build a stronger Canada.
  • Advance the full implementation of the new professional governance regime for immigration and citizenship consultants under the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act, bringing strengthened government oversight and new compliance and enforcement tools into effect.
  • Work with the provinces and territories to ensure a renewed focus on the delivery of high-quality settlement services to ensure the successful settlement and integration of new Canadians. This will require a rigorous approach to data in order to accurately measure outcomes.
  • Work on reducing application processing times, improving the department’s service delivery and client services to make them timelier and less complicated, and enhancing system efficiency, including in the asylum system.
  • Complete the legislative work on changes to the Canadian Oath of Citizenship to reflect the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
  • Introduce a dedicated refugee stream to provide safe haven for human rights advocates, journalists and humanitarian workers at risk, with a target of helping resettle as many as 250 people a year.
  • Introduce a Municipal Nominee Program that will allow local communities, chambers of commerce and local labour councils to directly sponsor permanent immigrants. At least 5,000 new spaces will be dedicated for this program.
  • You will also take the steps required to make the Atlantic Immigration Pilot permanent. At least 5,000 new spaces will be dedicated for this program.
  • Bring forward a plan to eliminate fees for citizenship for those who have fulfilled the requirements needed to obtain it.
  • Support the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on irregular migration, including the new Border Enforcement Strategy and continued work with the United States to modernize the Safe Third Country Agreement.
  • With the support of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development and the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, work to implement pilot programing to encourage more newcomers to settle in rural Canada.
  • Work with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to continue to advance reforms and investments in the capacity of the asylum system to ensure it is efficient while meeting Canada’s international legal obligations.

These priorities draw heavily from our election platform commitments. As mentioned, you are encouraged to seek opportunities to work across Parliament in the fulfillment of these commitments and to identify additional priorities.


Heather Scoffield: Hey, election-weary Americans, Canada would love to take you in

Valid approach to target foreign nationals currently working or studying in the USA:

In the difficult, bewildering days right after Donald Trump won the presidential election in 2016, then-vice-president Joe Biden made a quick trip to snowy Ottawa for a state dinner.

It’s worth remembering what he told Canadian leaders at the time: Canadians and Americans are deeply united in their values, Biden said, especially “the abhorrence of the abuse of power, whether it’s physical, economic or political, as well as the notion that every person deserves to be treated with dignity.

“It’s about dignity.”

The words were probably meant to console Canadians as much as to console himself at the turn of events and the coarsening of politics that a Trump victory would surely herald.

Fast-forward four years, and the day after the 2020 election was equally bewildering for many Canadians who could not digest the fact that, regardless of who the eventual president is, about half of American voters chose Trump for a second time.

But when we’re done reeling over the stark, pervasive divisions within the American electorate and move on to grappling with what next, perhaps we can put our own appreciation of dignity to good use, and make it work to our advantage — through immigration.

Just last week, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino set out a very ambitious plan for Canada: to boost immigration to never-seen-before levels and pull the country’s economic growth out of its funk.

“We are at a unique juncture in Canadian history. We are facing the challenge of our generation, and we will meet our moment,” Mendicino said. “Before the pandemic, our government’s goal to drive the economy forward through immigration was ambitious. Now, it is simply vital.”

Canada will aim to bring in 1.2 million new immigrants over the next three years, partly to make up for lost ground during the pandemic but also raising the target substantially from previous plans. Instead of 351,000 people targeted for 2021, Ottawa is now aiming for 401,000. Instead of 361,000 in 2022, Ottawa hopes for 411,000.

For sure, there are many reasons to increase immigration. Family reunification and a safe haven for refugees are what dignified, decent countries do. But since the federal government’s overriding goal is to boost the economy, it’s time to take a strategic look at the U.S. landscape.

Of course, the move-to-Canada idea was all the rage after the 2016 election, and especially after Trump kicked off his term in power by cracking down on immigrants from specific countries — a move that prompted Justin Trudeau to famously tweet #WelcomeToCanada because “diversity is our strength.”

The Canadian dream bubbled up again on Wednesday in the media and on social media.

But initial efforts over the past few years to recruit large numbers of skilled immigrants from the ranks of disaffected Democrats didn’t really materialize.

We have a second chance this time around and can take steps, and have money, to make it happen.

“There is an opportunity there,” says Mikal Skuterud, an economics professor at the University of Waterloo who specializes in immigration and labour.

Not all immigration automatically boosts Canada’s pace of growth, which is why Mendicino is putting more weight on the economic class of immigration than on family reunification and refugees. The hope is that by attracting skilled workers from other countries, Canada can expand the population of entrepreneurs, consumers, taxpayers, homebuyers, hard workers and wealth contributors in our economy.

People educated in the United States come with easily recognized credentials and are a quick fit into Canada’s labour market.

“If you want to leverage immigration for economic growth, you have to look at talent,” Skuterud says.

But Canada has long had stiff competition from the Americans next door in attracting those people, he adds, pointing to research that shows skilled immigrants to the United States prospering while those with a similar profile in Canada have struggled with lower wages.

Canada’s best bet to attract highly-skilled immigrants from the United States is to look there for foreigners and migrants, especially students and recent graduates, since they’re usually more mobile than the rest of the population, says Skuterud.

If Canada is to bolster growth over the long term, not just to recuperate from the pandemic but also to improve our standard of living and our ability to care for the most vulnerable in our society, we will need to make some bold, strategic moves to make our mark.

So much of Canada’s policy and recovery from the pandemic is in slow motion right now, waiting to see where Washington lands and how the U.S. political dynamic washes over the border.

Immigration is one area where we have already dared to stick our neck out and go our own way, at least in the targets and the rhetoric that comes from our political leaders. Dignity looks like a selling point these days.

Source: Heather Scoffield: Hey, election-weary Americans, Canada would love to take you in

Canada raises immigration targets to record level, eyeing COVID-19 recovery

Will be interesting to observe the range of commentary on these ambitious targets. Hard to square this with Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem’s warning that the economy is unlikely to get back on track until 2023. Moreover, previous downturns and recessions tell us that immigrants who arrive during difficult economic times suffer economically in both the short and longer term::

In the midst of a second wave of COVID-19, Canada isn’t just maintaining its immigration strategy, but taking it up a notch, increasing the number of people it will bring into the country in a bid to stimulate the post-pandemic economic recovery.

On Friday, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Canada will welcome more than 1.2 million new immigrants over the next three years, with an annual intake that could reach 401,000 in 2021; 411,000 in 2022; and 421,000 in 2023 — equivalent to one per cent of the population.

The previous plan, unveiled right before the onset of the pandemic lockdown in March, set targets of 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022.

“Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth. Canadians have seen how newcomers are playing an outsized role in our hospitals and care homes, and helping us to keep food on the table,” Mendicino said.

“Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth. Canadians have seen how newcomers are playing an outsized role in our hospitals and care homes, and helping us to keep food on the table,” Mendicino said.

“As we look to recovery, newcomers create jobs not just by giving our businesses the skills they need to thrive, but also by starting businesses themselves. Our plan will help to address some of our most acute labour shortages and to grow our population to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.”

The much anticipated 2021-23 immigration plan was tabled amid a cloud of uncertainty over Canada’s economic future in the middle of a global pandemic that has seen the country’s jobless rate surged to nine per cent last month from 5.6 per cent before the pandemic. It peaked at 13.4 per cent in May.

The government’s immigration strategy has been consistent with the approach taken by successive governments to keep intake high during recessions since the late 1980s, when prime minister Brian Mulroney’s government first used immigration to withstand the economic slowdown in 1990s and 2000s.

Canada was on track to bring in 341,000 newcomers this year; 351,000 in 2021; and 361,000 in 2022 — with about 58 per cent of the intake being skilled immigrants, 26 per cent under family reunification and the remaining 26 per cent as refuges or on humanitarian grounds.

However, due to travel restrictions, reduced application processing capacity and flight cancellations, only 60 per cent or some 200,000 are expected to have made it to Canada by this year’s end.

The new plan hopes to make up the shortfall over the next three years, with 60 per cent of the intake coming from economic class, 30 per cent from family reunification and 10 per cent under refugee protection and resettlement.

Last month, Statistics Canada’s latest demographic update showed the country’s population has reached 38 million but only recorded a 0.1 per cent growth or an increase of 25,384 persons between April and June — the lowest since 1972 — because of the pandemic.

In contrast, the growth rate stood at 0.5 per cent in each of the past two years at this time. In 2019, immigration accounted for 86.5 per cent of Canada’s population growth in the second quarter. This year, that dropped to 38.2 per cent (an addition of 9,700 persons).


The full report and related material:

Pre-release commentary by the Conservative and NDP immigration critics:

Conservative immigration critic Raquel Dancho said that whatever the Trudeau government announces today, it must have a concrete plan for bringing people safely into the country during a pandemic and for integrating them into Canadian society.

She said the backlog of applicants has grown during the pandemic.

“The immigration system has not been well-managed, I think to say the least, in the last eight months. So I will be looking for some sort of plan for how they’re going to improve it,” Dancho said.

“The number can be whatever it’s going to be, but unless they bring forward a plan for how they’re going to change course and get better at processing immigration applications, it’s really all for nothing.”

Dancho said Canadians must have a clear explanation of how immigration targets will meet Canada’s labour needs while upholding its humanitarian commitments.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan urged the government to increase its capacity to help vulnerable people in need of protection in Canada, noting that persecution abroad has not stopped during the pandemic.

She said Canada also should give permanent residence status to people who want it and are already in the country, such as temporary foreign workers and international students with job offers.

“Canada can, in fact, take a true humanitarian approach by regularizing all those immigrants and refugees and undocumented people,” she said.

Source: Federal government to announce new immigration targets today

And Quebec continuing to have relatively low immigration targets, making the demographic gap between Quebec and the rest of Canada continue to grow:

Quebec could welcome between 44,500 and 47,500 immigrants in 2021.

The immigration targets for 2021 were announced as part of the Plan d’immigration du Québec 2021, released on October 29. This report coincides with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada‘s (IRCC) announcement of its multi-year plan, which is expected this week and will guide Canada’s immigration planning for 2021 to 2023.

In 2021, the majority of new admissions to Quebec — 62 per cent — are expected to come through the province’s economic immigration programs.

The new Quebec immigration levels represent a slight increase over its 2020 targets when Quebec’s goal was to welcome between 43,000 and 44,500 immigrants.

According to estimates in the plan released today, Quebec will admit a maximum of 30,500 immigrants this year, instead of the projected maximum of 44,500. The province says travel restrictions and the closure of federal offices and processing centres around the world make it difficult to meet immigration targets for 2020.

However, the province’s immigration ministry said its targets for 2021 include a rebalancing plan “with the admission of an additional 7,000 people, representing the deferment of some of the admissions that were not fulfilled in 2020 due to the health crisis.”

As a result of the health crisis, the province estimates the number of unrealized admissions in 2020 to be between 13,000 and 18,000 but plans to make up the shortfall over the next two years.

Quebec’s Admissions targets for 2021

For 2021, Quebec has set a range of between 27,500 and 29,300 new admissions for its economic immigration programs, including a maximum of 24,200 skilled workers.

The province has also set a maximum of 4,300 admissions for its business immigration programs, which include Quebec’s Entrepreneur Program and the Self-Employed Worker Program.

In addition, a maximum of 800 admissions is set for “other economic categories” such as live-in caregivers and others.

Another 10,200 new permanent residents are expected to arrive through family sponsorship, refugee and other immigration programs.

2021 Quebec Selection Certificate targets

Under the provisions of the Canada-Quebec Accord, Quebec has the power to select all economic class immigrants and certain refugees to the province.

Those selected are awarded a Quebec Selection Certificate (Certificat de sélection du Québec, or CSQ) and can then apply to Canada’s federal government for a permanent residence visa.

Quebec’s plan calls for 26,500 to 31,200 selection certificates to be issued in 2021, slightly more than its 2020 plan, which called for a range of 20,100 to 24,700.

The majority — up to 22,400 — would go to skilled worker candidates.

The selection certificate targets are as follows:

  • Skilled workers: between 19,400 and 22,400;
  • Business immigrants: between 1,500 and 2,300;
  • Other economic immigrants: between 400 and 600;
  • Refugees selected abroad: between 4,400 and 4,700;
  • Other immigrants: between 800 and 1,200.

The targets set for 2021 include applications in process or waiting to be processed in Quebec and at the federal level. They also take into consideration the time it takes for candidates to complete all the immigration procedures.

Source: Quebec extends immigration targets into 2021

Susan Delacourt: COVID-19 has made Canada wary of newcomers. So how can Ottawa make the case for the immigrants we so desperately need?

More on Minister Mendicino’s thinking:

On the fateful day in March that the COVID-19 virus officially became an international pandemic, Canada’s immigration minister, Marco Mendicino, was paying tribute to employers who hire newcomers to this country.

The ceremony was held at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on March 11 and, as the proceedings were getting under way, the host read aloud a bracing bulletin from German chancellor Angela Merkel. The virus, Merkel had just declared, could infect up to 70 per cent of Germans.

Mendicino was stopped in his tracks. A little over a week before, he had been sitting beside Merkel at an immigration-themed event in Berlin, where he had been invited to share stories of how Canada handled the integration of newcomers.

That event had been a big deal for a rookie minister, only sworn into cabinet a few months earlier. But this news from Merkel in Germany was suddenly a much bigger deal.

“That was the moment. That was enough to give me and everybody else in the room pause,” Mendicino said. “It was the moment that the world changed for me.”

What made this moment even more surreal is that it came only one day before Mendicino was due to make the annual announcement on how many immigrants would be welcomed to Canada in the years ahead — 341,00 for the coming year; 361,000 by 2022.

Even as Mendicino was gamely rolling out this plan on the Thursday of that week, however, the world was closing its doors. Donald Trump had shut down entry of all travellers from Europe the night before. Canada’s own prime minister, Justin Trudeau, went into isolation that day, after his wife tested positive for the coronavirus.

Mendicino was asked at his March 12 news conference about how he could possibly be talking about welcoming more immigrants to Canada while borders were slamming shut all over the planet.

“We are at a moment where we are responding to COVID-19, but we also are planning for the future,” he said. “The future of this country depends on immigration. We need to continue to grow because we have an aging population, an aging workforce.”

Making the case for immigration in an increasingly insular, inward-looking world was already a hard sell. Mendicino says that he and Trudeau talked about this candidly when he was asked to take on the job after the last election. Canada is a lot more polarized over immigration today than it was in the heady days for Trudeau after the 2015 election, when one of the first big gestures of the new Liberal government was to welcome floods of Syrian refugees to Canada.

Since then, Trump has become president; Britain has voted to leave the European Union; and repeated polls in this country show that sentiments about immigration are hardening.

In the midst of this, COVID-19 has very conveniently handed a big win to all those political forces looking for larger walls between nations and stricter limits on who gets into their countries. Add to that the record unemployment the pandemic is causing and, one assumes, accompanying resentment at anyone coming to this country to do jobs Canadians could do.

It didn’t help fans of immigration either that in the early days of the crisis almost all the cases of COVID-19 had come to this country from abroad. Xenophobia, meet germophobia.

Where has that put Canada’s immigration minister in this crisis? I joked to Mendicino before interviewing him this week about whether he is now the Maytag repairman of cabinet, on lonely call, but presiding over a system that has effectively been shut down until further notice.

Mendicino emphatically disagrees with the premise of that joke. For the past two months, he’s set up his office in the basement of his home in Toronto and he hasn’t been short of things to do. While he remains vague on what’s happened to that 341,000 immigrants target — “we’ll have more to say in the fall” — Mendicino would say that people are still arriving here.

According to rough counts from Mendicino’s department, about 3,000 permanent residents arrived in Canada in April — a massive decline from the usual 25,000 or so who arrive as permanent residents each month during normal times. In the first three months of this year, Canada took in nearly 70,000 permanent residents, but the numbers started to tail markedly downward in the last half of March, once the pandemic hit. In addition, the immigration department was busy in April welcoming a little more than 20,000 temporary foreign workers into the country.

Canada still needs immigrants, maybe more now than ever before, Mendicino says, as the pandemic exposes just how dependent this country is on those who come here from abroad to work in essential businesses.

“The notion that somehow immigration has stopped doesn’t square with the reality that we are continuing to welcome temporary workers, international students and continuing to land those who wish to come to Canada, and lend their experience, their hard work to our country,” Mendicino says.

It should be said that for all the help that COVID-19 has given to arguments for closed borders, the pandemic has also forced Canadians to look at how much the economy depends on welcoming workers from elsewhere.

The havoc that the pandemic has been wreaking in long-term-care homes, for instance, has shone a light on how that whole sector is highly dependent on immigrants. Hospitals are similarly reliant. According to StatsCan, one in every four health-care workers in this country is a newcomer to Canada. More than a third of family physicians are immigrants; roughly the same proportions are seen in the fields of nursing, nursing aides and other related occupations.

Then there are the temporary workers in agriculture, urgently needed this spring when planting season was under way across Canada. Universities are already worrying about what will happen if they lose international students, whose high tuition costs account for about half of universities’ tuition revenue by some estimates.

Mendicino believes that all these facts are going to help make the case for immigration, once it’s safe to open the borders again. “Immigration has been a lifeline during the pandemic by safeguarding our food supply, recruiting additional support for our essential services on the front lines of our hospitals,” he says.

But here’s the blunt question: how do you get Canadians feeling good about opening up borders when they’re still extremely cautious about what’s going in and out of their own front doors? Two months of isolationism is going to be a hard habit to break, especially when it comes to envisioning thousands once again at Canada’s gates.

“We’ve adapted our immigration processes so that everyone is screened at the border, not only immigrants but returning Canadians too,” Mendicino says.

This still relatively new immigration minister refuses to be drawn into any questions about whether his job is tougher now or how he’s going to modify his arguments in favour of immigration in a world that has been locked down for two months.

“I have faith that Canadians believe in immigration,” he says. “That’s because they relate to it. It’s part of who we are. At its core, immigration is about people coming together to build a stronger country, which is what we’ve seen throughout our history, throughout this pandemic and, I’m confident, what we will see in the future.”

As with everything around this pandemic, though, no one knows whether this experience will make Canada more closed, or more aware of how much this country is connected to the world. Attitudes to immigration — and Mendicino — will be at the centre of that debate.

Source: Susan Delacourt: COVID-19 has made Canada wary of newcomers. So how can Ottawa make the case for the immigrants we so desperately need?

Feds hint at scaling back immigration due to pandemic fallout

Preliminary signals but we will only know when. the immigration plan is released in the fall:

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting unemployment could lead to immigration to Canada being cut for the first time in a decade.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino hinted as much in testimony to the Commons human resources committee, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

Mendicino said cabinet will be “taking a look at our levels and what is our operational capacity.”

The review “is of course going to be driven by the context,” he said. “As we all know, we are in the midst of a pandemic,” he said.

In an Immigration Levels Plan tabled in the Commons on March 12, cabinet proposed raising immigration by about 1% of the population a year, from 331,000 immigrants in 2019 to 341,000 in 2020 and 351,000 in 2021.

But since then, Canada’s unemployment rate has risen to 13%.

“Given Canada’s massive unemployment for the foreseeable future, what is the government’s scale-back planning for economic migrants and refugees for the next two years?” asked Conservative MP Peter Kent.

“Given that the economic crisis will linger after the health crisis has passed, can Canada accommodate an additional 1% of immigrants and refugees added to our population in the foreseeable future?”

Mendicino said the feds will continue to look “at the circumstances including the surrounding context of Canada’s response to COVID-19 as we plan for the future,” and will provide an update in the fall.

Source: Feds hint at scaling back immigration due to pandemic fallout

Canada shares expertise with Germany on successfully integrating immigrants

Over the years, there has been a steady stream of German politicians and officials coming to Canada to learn about Canadian immigration policies and programs.

Environics and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung did an interesting comparison of public attitudes between the two countries: Public sentiment toward immigrants and refugees: Current perspectives in Canada and Germany

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino was in Germany this week to share what Canada has learned from an immigration program that helps newcomers find jobs and learn about life in Canada before they arrive.

At the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mendicino took part in a summit looking at best practices for integrating migrants. Canada was the only foreign country the Germans invited to take part in the summit.

“Our friends in Germany see Canada as a role model, as a country that has achieved success,” Mendicino told CBC News.

Canada’s pre-arrival settlement services provide newcomers with information and supports, including employment assistance, while they’re still overseas. The goal of the program is to better prepare immigrants to ease into Canadian society by educating them about life in Canada and navigating roadblocks they could encounter.

An internal government audit in 2018 found that while the program was valuable in helping newcomers, it had a low uptake due to a lack of widespread awareness about the services available. It concluded there was a “missed opportunity.”In response to that finding, the government set aside $113 million to raise the profile of the program. Mendicino said a recent survey showed that 85 per cent of people who used the services said the program helped them find them a job, and about 88 per cent said the program helped them get foreign credentials recognized in Canada.

Boost for productivity, growth

“If we are able to facilitate integration by speeding up the processes and helping immigrants to land a job, then that will contribute to productivity and growth. It will mean that one more job vacancy is filled and that will contribute to a stronger economy as a whole,” Mendicino said.

The minister said Canada’s pre-arrival settlement services program has been around for about 20 years, undergoing various refinements and adjustments over that period.

Describing Canada and Germany as “like-minded countries,” Mendicino said the two nations have shared values and an understanding that solid integration of immigrants leads to better outcomes for both the newcomers and the country’s economy.

Canada has been praised in past on the world stage for programs that attract and retain workers to communities outside large urban centres, and that link immigration to labour gaps.”What we’re discovering is that some of our strongest G7 partners like Germany are starting to look at Canada as a role model, so that tells me that we certainly have been recognized for having a specific expertise in this area,” he said.

Last year, the OECD praised Canada’s economic migration system as one of the most successful in the world. It said Canada is widely seen as a “benchmark” for other countries.

Programs that assist in successful immigration and attract skilled workers are key to meeting the economic challenges of the future, Mendicino said.

“We will really benefit from continuing to grow our country and our economy through immigration, and that’s part of the narrative that I shared with our friends in Germany,” he said.

IRCC Minister commends Richmond council for tackling birth tourism

No signalling of change or new studies or initiatives as expected (need to await the results of the IRCC, CIHI, StatsCan analysis of those non-resident self-pay on visitor visas compared to other temporary residents):

Marco Mendicino, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, told the Richmond News the federal government wants to “weed out” abuses of the immigration system, but he added the principle of “jus soli” – birthright citizenship – has served Canada well.

Birthright citizenship has been in existence in Canada since 1947 and it is also a common practise in other countries, like the U.S. and some Commonwealth countries, Mendicino pointed out.

“There are families who do come to Canada and do avail themselves of this principle and they’re able to bestow upon their children Canadian citizenship as a result of this principle – along with that a number of rights and privileges,” he said, adding “it’s a principle that has absolutely served the country well.”

But Richmond has become known as the “epicentre” of birth tourism, attracting people who come to give birth here in order to secure Canadian citizenship for their baby. In the past year, 23 per cent of babies born at Richmond Hospital were born to non-residents.

Several businesses advertise – exclusively in the Chinese language – for birth tourism services, saying they will provide accommodations for pregnant women and help with after-care and paperwork.

Richmond council passed a motion on Monday to push the minister to end automatic citizenship for babies born to non-residents.

Mendicino said he “commends” the mayor and council of Richmond for having a discussion about the birth tourism and he will reflect on the motion that was passed. The issue needs to be monitored and tracked “very closely,” he said.

“I think we should express some gratitude to the City of Richmond and the council for examining the issue and advocating what the issues are within the context of the concern,” he said. “It’s more about determining and finding where the abuses are within the system rather than getting rid of the principle.”

Mendicino said the federal government is taking “concrete steps” to strengthen the oversight of immigration consultants “to really hold accountable any individuals who are trying to backdoor or take advantage of the system.”

He added the federal government wants to work with provincial partners and municipalities like Richmond to “weed out any abuse of our immigration system.”

There was a level of frustration at Richmond council on Monday – directed somewhat at Vancouver Coastal Health, the provincial government and the federal government – as councillors debated the merits and wording of a letter to push the federal minister of immigration to tackle birth tourism.

Voting against the motion were Couns. Alexa Loo, Kelly Greene and Michael Wolfe.

While Greene said she’s 100 per cent against birth tourism, she felt the motion was worded so that it could cause “disproportionate harm” to “vulnerable people such as refugees and stateless people.”

She said the harm would be exclusively to people of colour and she didn’t want to see at-risk people further marginalized.

“The motion should be to stop birth tourism,” Greene said. “It’s not – it asks to stop birthright citizenship for a broad swath of people.”

Coun. Bill McNulty said he sees birth tourism in his neighbourhood and called on senior governments to take action.

“I think this is an issue that really has put us in a vulnerable position – the two levels of government are totally out of touch with what’s happening in the communities,” McNulty said.

He also suggested the city needs to push Vancouver Coastal Health into action, considering 66 per cent of non-resident births in B.C. take place at Richmond Hospital.

Au echoed the sentiment that VCH should look into the issue, saying the health authority is “not willing to touch this.”

However, VCH spokesperson Catherine Loiacono pointed out this is a federal issue and health care professionals have a duty to provide care to anyone who needs it.
“Care is always triaged according to the safety of the mother and baby – mothers needing immediate care are seen first,” she added.

Nursing baseline staffing is based on patient volumes – not on census data. A staffing review in 2019 found that Richmond Hospital is staffed “appropriately” for patient safety and quality care, Loiacono said. Because the nature of giving birth is unpredictable, if there are increased numbers of patients, more resources are brought in, she added.

Source: Minister commends Richmond council for tackling birth tourism

Liberal Platform and Mandate Letter Comparison: IRCC and Diversity, Inclusion and Youth

Now that the mandate letters are out, went through the letters for Ministers Mendicino and Chagger, supplementing with other Ministers as needed (e.g., Justice, Public Safety, Innovation). The following table contrasts the platform commitments with the mandate letters, with no major surprises or omissions.

The most striking point was the relatively large number of Minister Chaggar’s commitments, although many are shared with other Ministers.

Hope you find this helpful and welcome any comments.

Liberal Platform and Mandate Letters 2019 – Immigration and Diversity Related

Trudeau Turns the Page on #Immigration. About time! : Corriere Canadese

The Corriere Canadese and its editor, former Liberal immigration minister Joe Volpe (Martin government) has been advocating for Hussen’s ouster for some time (the criticisms are overblown IMO).

We will never know whether these concerns played a role in his replacement by an Italian Canadian, but as noted before, there has been tension for some time between traditional and newer immigrant groups supporting the Liberals. For example, the Saint Léonard-Saint Michel Liberal nomination contest between Italian Canadian and non-Italian Canadian candidates being a recent example.

The program actually plays little attention to citizenship or country of origin, contrary to what is asserted in the article. Moreover, Express Entry dramatically improved processing times for economic class immigrants. And visible minorities have formed close to 80 percent of all immigrants over the past 20 years.

But a good example of tension between historic and newer groups of new Canadians, and how they perceive their relative influence on Liberal immigration policies:

The first signs are positive. Justin Trudeau has decided to intervene in the immigration department chaos with the replacement of the now exminister Ahmed Hussen by promoting Marco Mendicino to the delicate post. During these last two years, Corriere Canadese has strongly denounced the systemic inconsistencies in the management of migration flows by the Executive – the Minister -responsible for those flaws, the contradictions and the endemic problems that have permeated the immigration sector in our country.

Our survey of the last two weeks has documented with numbers, data and statistics – all provided directly by the Ministry of Immigration – the poor state of health of the entire system, the absurdity of the results produced, the imbalances among geographic origins of the immigrants, the bizarre bureaucratic, linguistic and regulatory obstacles of the Express Entry.

The question was/is very simple: is the current system able to provide a trained and qualified workforce to meet the needs of the Canadian labour market in a timely fashion? The answer was/ is equally simple: absolutely not.

As it is structured, the system itself pays more attention to the citizenship of the newcomers than to their professional preparation, to their work experience or, above all, to the requirements requested by Canadian companies and businesses. It goes without saying that it is necessary to turn the page, intervening with significant structural changes – and not mere cosmetic operations. If that is not enough, then one should consider a complete repeal of the Express Entry program.

This program, envisioned by Harper conservatives, Jason Kenney and Chris Alexander, Conservative Cabinet Ministers, came into force in January 2015.

It has become quite clear that even the Current Prime Minister has not been overwhelmed with enthusiasm by Ahmed Hussen’s work in the two and a half years in offiŽce. His demotion from a key department of government to a previously non-existent Ministry without a portfolio is a clear signal that even Trudeau realized that the management of migration flows in the previous legislature represented a weak point in government action.

Moreover, it was a source of controversy and internal splits creating friction with many communities, starting with Italian Canadians.

The appointment of Mendicino, Eglinton-Lawrence’s MP of Italian origin, represents a clear and precise response to the complaints we have supported – by giving space – for Hussen’s work.

That said, we must point out that, in our opinion, the decision to appoint Mendicino Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship is not the goal but a starting point.

He will face a huge amount of work and many problems to solve: the Express Entry, as we have said, but also the thorny issues of undocumented foreign workers – “resolved” by his predecessor with a cynical rise shrug of his shoulders – the inconsistencies of the family reunification system, those of the hasty deportations that violate any principle of common sense and the delicate relationship with the various Provinces on demographic matters.

That sometimes, it is right to point out, they also put their own. Just look at what happened in Ontario, where Prime Minister Doug Ford after the victory of 2018 had the “brilliant idea” – one of many, to tell the truth – to eliminate the Provincial Ministry of Immigration and to entrust its competencies to the Minister for Children and Community and Social Services, a position currently held by Lisa MacLeod.

So, in wishing the new minister good work, we also ask that the government have the strength to turn to ensure that Immigration returns to being one of the strengths of our country’s economic, social and demographic growth.

Source: Trudeau Turns the Page on Immigration. About time!