In a letter to Immigration Minister, John McCallum, Prime Minister Trudeau has reiterated his party’s objectives for the upcoming four years. In contrast to the previous government’s mechanistic and non-compassionate approach to administering immigration policy, this government is about to re-establish Canada’s image as a country that promotes family reunification and honours our international commitments in providing protection for Convention refugees. For 2016 and beyond, we will begin to see a reversal of the draconian measures taken by the previous government combined with an humanistic approach in the administration of immigration, refugee and citizenship policies.
The 12 point plan asks the Minister of Immigration to:
- Lead government-wide efforts to resettle 25,000 refugees from Syria in the coming months.
- Bring forward a proposal to double the number of entry applications for parents and grandparents of immigrants to 10,000 a year.
- Give additional points under the Entry Express system to provide more opportunities for applicants who have Canadian siblings.
- Increase the maximum age for dependents to 22, from 19, to allow more Canadians to bring their children to Canada.
- Bring forward a proposal regarding permanent residency for new spouses entering Canada.
- Develop a plan to reduce application processing times for sponsorship, citizenship and other visas.
- Fully restore the Interim Federal Health Program that provides limited and temporary health benefits to refugees and refugee claimants.
- Establish an expert human rights panel to help you determine designated countries of origin, and provide a right to appeal refugee decisions for citizens from these countries.
- Modify the temporary foreign workers program to eliminate the $1,000 Labour Market Impact Assessment fee to hire caregivers and work with provinces and territories to develop a system of regulated companies to hire caregivers on behalf of families.
- Lead efforts to facilitate the temporary entry of low risk travellers, including business visitors, and lift the visa requirement for Mexico.
- Work with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to repeal provisions in the Citizenship Act that give the government the right to strip citizenship from dual nationals.
- Eliminate regulations that remove the credit given to international students for half of the time that they spend in Canada and regulations that require new citizens to sign a declaration that they intend to reside in Canada.
The objectives laid out are bold and ambitious and subject to immediate challenges, especially since the previous government reduced the number of immigration officials, closed immigration offices nationally and internationally and bequeathed a malfunctioning and inefficient computer-based immigration processing system.
Mr. Trudeau’s political honeymoon will, no doubt, be short.