Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has introduced a so-called “new” strategic plan for IRCC. The stated goal of his plan is to help more newcomers obtain permanent residency. The plan came in response to a motion passed back in May that granted the Minister the ability to create a comprehensive strategy to assist international students and temporary workers regardless of skill level. The plan itself is based on the changes made in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Some of the changes in the plan include the following: 

  • An increase in the annual targets of Permanent Residents being admitted to Canada. These targets consist of: 
  • 431,645 permanent residents for 2022. 
  • 447,055 permanent residents for 2023. 
  • 451,000 permanent residents for 2024. 
  • Additional powers to the Minister that would allow him to handpick permanent residents. 
  • Enhancements towards the skill types of the National Occupational Classification system (NOC).  
  • Improvements that will assist with the recognition of foreign credentials. 
  • Open work permits to family members of all foreign workers 
  • Continued efforts to digitalize the immigration system to ensure faster processing. 

In addition, IRRC is conducting an analysis of the international student program. Besides speeding up processing times, the ministry is looking at reducing certain administrative requirements of co-ops and other work-integrated education programs to allow international students more opportunities to participate in the labour market. The latter will include an assessment of the trade-offs between reducing oversight of student programs against the risk of program abuse. 

Not everyone in Parliament is happy about the proposals. The Immigration critic for the NDP, Jenny Kwan, has described the government’s plan as being nothing more than a “recycling” of already existing policies. Kwan goes on to say that this strategy lacks anything that is substantially new that would support the aims of the original motion. With IRCC already blighted by processing time delays and the negligent processing of applications, Minister Fraser’s latest announcement, which mostly rehashes previous policy, does not inspire confidence that IRCC is serious about fixing the critical problems facing the ministry.

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