Canada’s immigration minister along with members of an Ottawa task force updated Canadians on how the government is working to reduce immigration backlogs.
On August 29, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser joined other task force members to update Canadians and newcomers on what the government is doing to address the backlog and improve the immigration system.
Fraser is an ex-officio member of the task force created in June to reduce wait times for immigration documents and passports. At a press conference, the task force discussed developments over recent months, as well as the underlying pandemic-related reasons for the significant surges in demand for travel and for other government services. The task force has been meeting regularly throughout the summer to identify priority areas for action, and outline short- and longer-term solutions.
Fraser highlighted how Canada is working to improve services at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) by:
- Hiring up to 1,250 new employees by the end of the fall to increase processing capacity and tackle the backlogs in the short term;
- Modernizing and streamlining IRCC operations to make Canada’s system more sustainable in the long term;
- Welcoming over 300,000 new permanent residents as of August 22;
- Issuing over 349,000 new work permits from January 1 to July 31 this year, compared to approximately 112,000 issued during the same period in 2021;
- Finalizing almost 360,000 study permits between January 1 and July 31, 2022, compared to about 306,000 finalized in the same period in 2021;
- Approving over 216,000 applications for the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel from March 17 to August 24, 2022 for Ukrainians and family members looking to find safety in Canada;
- Introducing application status trackers for citizenship and some permanent residence applicants to have timely information on their files, which will be expanded to more clients in the coming year; and
- Publishing monthly data on the IRCC website to keep Canadians up to date on our progress.
“Families, communities, and businesses deserve an immigration system that works for everyone,” Fraser said in a government media release. “Through targeted investments, hiring 1,250 employees to address the backlog, and the improvement of our online systems and processes, we will deliver on our promise to Canadians. We will reduce wait times and work hard to attract and retain skilled workers, as we continue to help communities across the country access the talent they need.”
The release said IRCC manages over 1 million applications from its inventories at any given time, and in 2021, IRCC finalized 1.7 million applications across all lines of business. The IRCC webpage that is currently tracking the backlog reports there are 2.4 million applications waiting in all IRCC inventories, down from 2.7 million in July. Of those currently in the IRCC inventory, 1.1 million are within service standards, while 1.3 million are in the backlog.
Also at the conference, Canada’s minister of families, Karina Gould, spoke about how Canada is improving passport processing. Namely, by increasing the Service Canada workforce; expanding simplified renewals of passports to adults who have had a passport issued in the last 15 years; implementing a new triage system to help manage lineups; expanding passport-pick up service to nine more Service Canada Centres; and expanding passport services to 24 rural and remote sites in Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada.
Travel Minister Omar Alghabra said Canada is working to reduce traveller wait times and airport congestion by hiring more staff; collaborating with airlines, airports, and related government departments including Canadian Border Services Agency to address bottlenecks; adding more eGates and primary inspection kiosks at Toronto Pearson International Airport; allowing screening officers to work while training to get more officers on the ground at airports; tripling the number of Transportation Security Clearances issued over the last year to quickly on-board new employees; improving pre-board security screening wait times across the country; and reducing the number of aircraft being held on the tarmac at Toronto Pearson International Airport.