On November 17, 2023, the Canadian Minister of Immigration announced a new avenue of immigration to help 15,000 “displaced” vulnerable people from the Western Hemisphere. This “collective” humanitarian category is separate and distinct from the normal immigration pathways and is meant to alleviate migration pressures in the Western hemisphere. This new humanitarian pathway is designed as an immediate alternative to the regular migration from Central America for those have been displaced due to “political, social and economic” instability. In announcing this new pathway, the Minister of Immigration focused on Colombian, Haitian and Venezuelan nationals. To qualify for the program, the principal applicant must be a child (regardless of age,) grandchild, spouse, common law partner, parent, grandparent or sibling of a Canadian citizen or permanent residence who agrees to support the immigrant and their family for one year. This new measure is much more liberal and humanitarian in scope rather than following the restrictive family sponsorship processes presently existing for spouses, children or parents.
This new measure is a step in the right direction for Canada in recognizing the hardships of those in less fortunate geographical areas. Although the announcement does not specifically mention individuals displaced by reason of climate, it does reveal the government’s nascent willingness for future modifications of present immigration policy by recognizing such severe displacement. Clearly the government cannot use a definition of “refugee” for those who are displaced due to climactic upheavals, but by opening the humanitarian door in this fashion Canada has taken one step closer in the recognition of the hardships that are on the horizon due to climate upheavals.