Sean Fraser: Canada's Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Last updated: 5 November 2021

About Canada's immigration minister

For much of its history, Canada has appointed a federal minister that oversees immigration. Today, their official title is Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. The minister has significant authority over Canada's immigration system. This CanadaVisa page provides an overview of the role of the minister.

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The Role of Canada's Immigration Minister

The minister oversees the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. 

IRCC's mission is to:

  • Facilitate the arrival of foreign nationals and their integration into Canada while maximizing their contributions and protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians
  • Protect refugees and others with a humanitarian need
  • Enhance the values of Canadian citizenship and promote its rights and responsibilities
  • Promote multiculturalism
  • Advance global migration policies in a way that supports Canada's immigration objectives

The authority of IRCC and the immigration minister is defined in the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act. The minister is also responsible for the Citizenship Act and shares responsibility with the Minister of Public Safety for the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

The immigration minister's job includes, but is not limited to:

  • Ensuring that the policy priorities outlined in the mandate letter provided to them by Canada's Prime Minister are implemented by IRCC
  • Entering into agreements with Canada's provinces and territories to allow them to welcome and settle immigrants
  • Entering into agreements with other countries that support Canada's immigration policy objectives
  • Submitting an annual report to Canada's Parliament on immigration and submitting an immigration levels plan
  • Overseeing the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). The IRB is an independent administrative tribunal with a mandate to make well-reasoned decisions on immigration and refugee matters
  • Overseeing Canada's citizenship and passport programs
  • Making decisions on exceptional immigration circumstances 

Why Does Canada Have an Immigration Minister?

Canada has had a minister responsible for immigration for much of its history due to the importance of immigration to its economy and society.

Upon its founding in 1867, Canada was a sparsely populated country with a lot of available land. It needed immigrants at the time to grow its economy and secure its borders. Today, Canada has a much larger population but it continues to face demographic challenges. Canada has one of the world's oldest populations and one of the world's lowest birth rates. As such, it looks to welcome high levels of immigration to promote population, labour force, and economic growth. 

Besides welcoming immigrants to support its economy, Canada also welcomes them for social reasons. Canada facilitates family reunification since strong families are the foundation of Canadian society. It also welcomes immigrants on refugee and humanitarian grounds since it is part of Canada's values to help those in need.

Hence, having a minister in charge of immigration is crucial to ensuring Canada continues to meet its immigration policy goals. Aside from welcoming over 400,000 new immigrants per year, IRCC and the immigration minister are also tasked with facilitating the arrival of hundreds of thousands of new temporary foreign workers, international students, and visitors each year. Moreover, they also process hundreds of thousands of Canadian citizenship applications annually. All told, IRCC and the immigration minister are playing an increasingly important role in shaping the direction of Canada's economy and society.

About the Current Immigration Minister: Sean Fraser

Sean Fraser was appointed as Canada's Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship on October 26, 2021 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He succeeds Marco Mendicino who became the Minister of Public Safety.

Minister Fraser was first elected as a Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Nova in 2015. Central Nova is a riding that consists of various communities including a portion of Halifax, which is Nova Scotia's capital and largest city.

Minister Fraser was re-elected in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

Prior to becoming a politician, Minister Fraser was a lawyer that practiced commercial litigation and international dispute resolution.

Minister Fraser holds a law degree from Dalhousie University, a Master's degree from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Francis Xavier University.

Minister Fraser grew up in Nova Scotia. He is married with two children.

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