Reducing Backlogs to Achieve a Fast and Flexible Immigration System

OTTAWA, ONTARIO — The Government of
Canada welcomed the findings of a report on immigration backlogs by
the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration and tabled its
response in Parliament today.

“I think we can all agree that backlogs are unfair to applicants,
harmful to Canada’s ability to attract the best and brightest from
around the world, and hold back economic and job growth,” said
Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.
“I thank the Standing Committee members for their hard work in
compiling their report.”

The Committee commented favourably on what the Government has already
achieved to date through the Action Plan for Faster Immigration and
the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification. However, the
Committee report also made clear that more needs to be done in order
to better align application intake with admission levels.

The committee report recognizes that backlogs have occurred because
for too long Canada has accepted more applications than it can
process and admit in a given year. Over time, this annual surplus of
applications resulted in a backlog of more than a million applicants,
and processing delays of eight to ten years in some immigration
categories. The report concluded that, in order to avoid future
backlogs, it is critical that the Government act to ensure that the
annual number of applications better align with the number of
admissions. The report also recommended exploring further options to
deal with the problem of existing backlogs, particularly in the
federal skilled worker, immigrant investor, and parent and
grandparent classes.

The Government agrees with all of the Standing Committee’s report
recommendations and has already acted quickly to tackle application
backlogs in key areas. Successes include:

— Reducing the pre-2008 Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) backlog by more than
50 percent by 2011 – two years earlier than expected – through the 2008
Action Plan for Faster Immigration and successive Ministerial
Instructions limiting application intake. Most recently, Economic Action
Plan 2012 removed around 280,000 applicants from that FSW backlog, which
paves the way for a faster and more flexible economic immigration
system;

— Managing intake of the Immigrant Investor Program applications starting
in July 2011. Most recently, a temporary pause on new applications was
introduced on July 1, 2012 to allow Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(CIC) to focus on processing existing applications and reviewing the
program’s effectiveness;

— Significantly decreasing the backlog of applications for parents and
grandparents since fall 2011, as a result of increased admission targets
and a two-year pause on new applications under the Action Plan for
Faster Family Reunification. At the same time, CIC introduced a new
“Super Visa,” which allows for visits of up to two years by parents and
grandparents, and has proven to be a popular alternative for applicants.

In the last year, the Government has also launched public online
consultations on re-designing the parent and grandparent program, and
reforming the Immigrant Investor Program. Policy work on reformed
programs is now underway.

“The economy and job growth remain the Government’s number one
priority,” said Minister Kenney. “We continue to take the issue of
immigration backlogs very seriously, and we will be doing even more
in the future to transform our immigration system into one that is
fast, fair, flexible, and serves the interests of Canada’s long-term
prosperity.”