2018: A year of challenges — and opportunities

January 18th, 2018

These are days when you have to admit it feels good to be Canadian. 

I don’t say this to boast – we’ve only recently emerged from our own challenging period of government. But having experienced that, and now watching what the United States is going through under the leadership of Donald Trump, the return to more progressive immigration policies north of the border comes as nothing if not welcome relief.

Since coming to power in October 2015, Canada’s Liberal government has repealed some of the previous government’s more troubling legislation, such as conditional permanent residence, the removal of health care for refugees, and the right to strip Canadian citizenship from dual nationals. “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” now Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated during the election campaign that year. “As soon as you make citizenship for some Canadians conditional on good behavior, you devalue citizenship for everyone,” he said.

Now, a little more than two years and a Trump victory later, Canada is reaping the rewards of its return to a more generous, welcoming approach to the world. With a new year ahead of us, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the ways in which Canadian immigration policy has evolved, and where we can still do better.

While repealing the more punitive policies of its predecessors, the Trudeau government has introduced welcome innovations like the Global Talent Stream and reformed Express Entry’s Comprehensive Ranking System in favour of skills over job offers. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the federal immigration ministry, has also made family reunification a priority and established new, three-year immigration levels that aim to welcome nearly one million newcomers to Canada by 2020. With isolationism and nativism on the rise in countries like the United States and Britain, these policies are helping turn Canada into a destination of choice for skilled immigrants in search of new opportunities.

This is not to say the Trudeau government has been perfect and everyone is happy. The arrival of thousands of asylum seekers from the United States last summer caught the federal government off-guard and overwhelmed its capacity for processing claims in a timely manner. As I wrote last year, the government’s lacklustre management of the situation put nothing less than the integrity of Canada’s immigration system at risk. The federal government’s Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States, which holds that both countries are safe for refugees, is now being challenged in a federal court. Groups like Amnesty International and the Canadian Council for Refugees argue the United States is no longer a safe country for refugees, which the Canadian government continues to refute despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

Another notable glitch was changes introduced to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada’s Parents and Grandparents Program. The Liberal’s went to a randomized selection process and introduced an online Interest to Sponsor form that all would-be sponsors had to first complete. A good idea in theory, yes, but the form’s lack of detail led thousands of ineligible sponsors to apply, wasting both their time and that of IRCC staff.  To its credit, IRCC has corrected this oversight on the latest version of the Interest to Sponsor form, which went live January 2. However, as reported by CBC and others, the randomized selection process remains deeply unpopular with those who have been waiting patiently in line for years to sponsor their parents or grandparents to Canada.

Looking ahead at 2018, the challenges and opportunities for Canada’s immigration system will be great. Uncertainty in the United States may continue to drive asylum seekers north, further testing both Canada’s immigration system and the public’s confidence in it as the world looks on. At the same time, the federal government’s three-year immigration levels plan kicks into gear, with its stated aim of “increased economic competitiveness through the attraction of global talent.” This is expected translate into Canada welcoming more than 177,000 newcomers through Canada’s economic immigration programs alone. Add the targets for Family Class programs, refugees and protected persons, and humanitarian programs and we’re looking at a total admission target of 310,000 souls in 2018.

If 2017 was a pivotal year for Canadian immigration, 2018 could see it beginning to hit a new, confident stride. All in all, it should be a fascinating year — and one that we can hopefully all be proud of as Canadians.

Previous Blog : Building a new Quebec
Next Blog : NAFTA: The fight to keep skilled labour flowing

7 Responses to “2018: A year of challenges — and opportunities”

  • On January 18th, 2018, Anonymous said ...

    David Cohen, when will the Trudeau and liberal government help those in the country who are illegal and don’t have no status and who hv bn in the country for years working under the carpet, paying taxes to also become Canadians? Is there any amnesty in the near future like what Justin Trudeau’s father did years back? He has to do something instead of bringing ppl in. There are ppl in Canada who are illegal and needs help. Thnx. Hope to get a reply.

  • On January 19th, 2018, Maggie Lambert said ...

    My son has just submitted his interest in the parent and grandparent sponsorship program. I’m his mother and find the process very unsettling. He feels that priority should be given to Canadian citizens, since the program is so oversubscribed. We could apply for the parent and grandparent supervisa, but the expensive health cover is not a health plan. So we could be told to leave if webecame ill. I find this very unsatisfactory.

  • On January 19th, 2018, Martin said ...

    thank for the graet work you do.

  • On January 20th, 2018, Moon said ...

    Hi David, appreciate your deep analysis. Many factors you discussed in your article including uncertainty in US, flood of asylum seekers and so on. But honestly if you see the blogs being under administration of canadavisa.com, you’ll find folks suffering from long security screening, the processing time for this screening is vague and there isn’t any blog, web page, IRCC contact, Mail adress where the recepient of this tiring and painful experience of being in security screening, can have access. I quote my example here, AOR since Nov, 2016 under security screening. I sent emails to IRCC, the reposnse is generic, that is’nt helpful either.
    Please share this point inbyou artcle/blogs too.
    Secondly, is there aby way that people in security screening can get the updated status of their application.

    All my best,

  • On January 22nd, 2018, antonio said ...

    question; why is so dificult for us as applicant for sponsoring our loved ones wife and children and govorment of canada returns our documents for a little small mistake or reject our sponsorship application even people are in a real genuen relationships .also when they request documents they dont tell us clearly what they want or what was missing but they send us emails that is hard to undertand them on there way of requesting the documents ,do they ever think that the aplicant is applaying from overcies and there english is not as good or they do this in pourppos so people make mistakes so they will reject the visa ? also why is so hard to get hold off canadian ebassyes on forgen countyes even you email them and we never get a reply .i think govorment should look in to this problems as well not just open dores for new immigrants and takears years of strees till they make it to canada .

  • On January 24th, 2018, Anonymous said ...

    I think island workers that come here for yrs to reap harvest should be allowed to apply to stay in Canada

  • On February 4th, 2018, Anonymous said ...

    My husband has been working here in Canada as a seasonal farm worker, he never get into trouble with the law and never tried to run off, why can’t people like him get a chance to apply for permanent residence, he has been paying taxes for 18 years to the government…also when he and most of the other workers return back to Jamaica they have no income to take care of their families what about the EI they have been paying I think they should get a refund their wives and children are suffering

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