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November 6, 2023

Canada’s Immigration Minister and Deputy Minister discuss top IRCC objectives

On October 24, Canada’s Standing Committee on Citizenship, and Immigration (CIMM) invited Canada’s Immigration Minister and Deputy Minister to outline Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCCs) top priorities.

The role of Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, is to work with IRCC stakeholders as well as provincial and territorial governments to create immigration strategies that strengthen Canada’s economy, reunites families, and welcomes refugees and asylum seekers. He also has a mandate to promote the French language outside of Quebec.

Deputy Minister Christiane Fox is the most-senior civil servant in the immigration department. This means her role is non-political. It is her job to oversee the management of IRCC, which includes the implementation of strategies and policies, as well as internal duties such as managing people and the budget.

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Measures coming to strengthen International Student Program 

Minister Miller spoke about international student fraud and told the committee he would announce measures to strengthen the integrity of the international student program in the coming weeks. 

IRCC is working on a Trusted Institutions Framework to improve the integrity of Canada’s international student program. Details are scarce but it will rely heavily on assessing designated learning institutions for “criteria that demonstrates that they are reliable partners with regard to sustainable intake, identifying genuine students, monitoring and reporting on their compliance, and providing a safe and enriching experience for their international students.” 

Further, the minister reiterated that he was not in favour of setting a cap on the number of international student admissions to Canada. 

Yeates report 

Former IRCC Deputy Minister, Neil Yeates, produced a report earlier this year outlining how IRCC can improve its efficiency. The report was commissioned by IRCC with the objective of evaluating if the current department’s structure was the best method for the department to fulfill its mandates.

The report found that the current organizational structure at IRCC is not efficient and several recommendations were made. Deputy Minister Fox told the committee the full report would be shared with them within the next two weeks.

She said it had not been released previously because she wanted all IRCC employees to first have a chance to read it and discuss it with her as necessary.

Express Entry

Committee members noted that since Minister Miller was appointed, there has been a slow down in the number of Express Entry draws.

Deputy Minister Fox says the decrease in number of draws and ITAs is largely due to an IT glitch during the launch of category-based selection draws and they will make up the numbers as they go.

Additionally, in response to questions around the number of skilled trades professionals in Canada, Deputy Minister Fox said a category-based draw for Express Entry candidates in skilled trades will take place by December this year.

CIMM

CIMM is made up of 12 members of Canada’s parliament (MPs) and there is at least one member from every major political party sitting on the committee. Their job is to monitor federal policy relating to immigration and multiculturalism.

The committee meets regularly to discuss relevant immigration issues. Recent areas of exploration include application backlogs, Bills that are before Parliament, such as Bill S-245, which is an Act to amend the Citizenship Act (granting citizenship to certain Canadians), and international student irregularities.

They also provide oversight on Canada’s government and encourages the government to act on specific issues such as amending special immigration measures for the people of Hong Kong in January this year or staying the deportation of 700 Indian students who were found to have been admitted with fraudulent acceptance letters.

Immigration Levels Plan 2024-2026

IRCC will release the Immigration Levels Plan for 2024-2026 by November 1st.

The plan is significant because it helps Canada’s government to anticipate an increase in population and plan accordingly to ensure that there is adequate infrastructure such as healthcare, education, housing, and settlement services to support newcomers as they settle into Canada. This needs to be balanced to meet needs of Canada’s existing population. The plan must support Canada’s economic priorities, reunite families and welcome refugees and asylum seekers

That being said, support for immigration this has been waning somewhat in the face of Canada’s high cost of living and lack of affordable housing. Miller has said that increasing the number of skilled newcomers is a vital part of getting more homes built.

He also told Bloomberg news in an interview last August that the new plan will likely maintain or increase the current targets set in the 2023-2025 Plan, in which Canada plans to admit 500,000 new permanent residents each year by the end of 2025.

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