On a two-day visit to Pakistan, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Canada (CIMC) Minister Jason Kenney met with Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani to discuss Pakistani-Canadian relations with regards to immigration, employment of Pakistani citizens in Canada, and Canadian investment in Pakistan.
They discussed the Pakistani community in Canada; Minister Kenney noting its important contribution to the social, economic, and political institutions of the country.
Canada and Pakistan are working to increase ties between the two countries. Kenney recently announced that Canada has decided to double Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) assistance for Pakistan to $60 million CAD. This investment will be used to strength local government institutions, basic health care for girls, and primary education for Pakistani children.
Pakistan is already a significant source of immigrant workers in Canada. Minister Kenney noted Canada's intention of increasing the recruitment of Pakistani workers for the Canadian workforce.
Minister Kenney agreed with Prime Minister Gilani that there have been significant delays in the processing of Canadian immigration applications from Pakistan, but assured him of his resolve to improve upon this. During his visit, Minister Kenney met with Canadian visa officers at the High Commission in Islamabad to review operations there.
He also met with several Pakistani Ministers, important political figures, and religious leaders from various communities.
"Pakistani-Canadians play an important role in Canada. We are seeing more and more newcomers arriving from Pakistan," stated Minister Kenney. "With a program of this size, there are always challenges. This visit gave me valuable insight as we continue to make improvements in our immigration system. My trip was made more meaningful due to many consultations with members of the Pakistani-Canadian community."
Minister Kenney informed Prime Minister Gilani that a Parliamentary Forum in Canada would be established next month to promote exchanges between elected representatives in Canada and Pakistan.