OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 30, 2009) - Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, tabled Citizenship and Immigration Canada's 2009 Annual Report today in Parliament.
"While other countries have cut back immigration levels as a short-term response to the global economic downturn, our government is actually maintaining its immigration levels to meet the country's medium- to long-term economic needs," said Minister Kenney.
"Canada plans to welcome between 240,000 and 265,000 new permanent residents in 2010, the same number of immigrants as in recent years. In 2010, Canada will again welcome more new permanent residents than the average annual intake during the 1990s," said Minister Kenney. "The focus of the 2010 plan is on economic immigration to support Canada's economy during and beyond the current economic recovery."
In particular, the admission ranges for immigrants nominated by the provinces and territories have been increased. Provinces and territories are in the best position to understand how Canada's immigration intake can be aligned to their labour market needs. Second, by increasing the admission ranges in the Provincial Nominee Program, the Government of Canada is helping to ensure that the benefits of immigration are distributed across this country. Canada and the provinces will work together to manage growth in the provincial nominee program. Increasing the total number of immigrants processed under the economic category will also allow CIC to continue reducing the backlog of federal skilled worker applicants as part of the Action Plan for Faster Immigration.
Although the Action Plan has been in place for less than a year, early indications are that it is paying off. "People applying now under the federal skilled worker program can expect to receive a decision within six to twelve months, compared to up to six years under the old system," said Minister Kenney. "We've also brought the backlog of federal skilled worker applicants down from over 630,000 to 425,000-a reduction of more than 30%."
The backlog consists of people who applied before February 27, 2008, the date the Action Plan took effect. Since then, almost 240,000 people have applied to the new federal skilled worker program under the Action Plan. But even with those additional applicants, the total number of people currently awaiting a decision on their application is still 12% lower than when the Action Plan took effect.
"Before we changed the system, we had to process every application received. Since many more people applied every year than could be accepted, a backlog was created," said Minister Kenney. "Now that we are processing only those applications that meet specified criteria, our Government is making significant progress in reducing the backlog."
Improving the federal skilled worker program is part of the Government of Canada's overall commitment to modernizing the immigration system to maximize its contribution to our overall economic growth.
"The Government of Canada will continue to work with provinces, territories and stakeholders to make sure immigration meets the needs of communities, employers and families now and in the future," concluded the Minister.