The 2021 Canadian Federal election took place on September 20 and all major media outlets have called the election for the Liberal Party, meaning Justin Trudeau will remain Prime Minister of Canada. The Liberal Party continues to hold a minority government, with the election resulting in a largely similar outcome to the one held in 2019. Given a resumption of the status quo, it is unlikely there will be major changes to Canadian immigration policy during the current term. However, the Liberal platform published in the lead-up to the election does include some immigration objectives indicating it is possible that there will be some changes in the coming years. Below, we’ll review some of the key points in the Liberal’s most recent platform addressing immigration.
For example, part of the Liberal platform calls for the elimination of citizenship application fees for permanent residents by 2022-2023. Eliminating the application fee has been part of the Liberal Party platform since the 2019 election. Currently, the fee is $630 for an adult (18 and over) and $100 for minors. Eliminating the fee would take some of the burden out of the immigration process for potential new citizens who are already permanent residents.
Another part of the 2021 Liberal platform is a promise to “[c]ounter the lost demographic weight of francophones in Canada through an ambitious national strategy to support Francophone immigration outside of Quebec”. There are not really any specifics within the platform for how this goal is meant to be achieved, but it is possible that the federal government will try to create some new French-speaking immigration streams for future migrants in order to fulfill their promise. Within Quebec, the current administration promised to continue to support the French-language knowledge of immigrants who come to Quebec.
There were also promises to make changes in the immigration system in response to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Processing times for applications have slowed down in response to the pandemic and the Liberal platform says that they will reduce these processing times to under 12 months. The platform does not directly say how this will be accomplished, but by increasing the number of people processing and deciding on applications, this goal could be achieved.
Additionally, there has been discussion of implementing a program to issue temporary visas to spouses and children abroad while they wait for the processing of their permanent residency application so that families can be reunited sooner. Related to this, the Party would also like to introduce electronic applications for family reunification, which should help streamline that process.
There was some mention of refugees within the Liberal platform as well, as the Liberal Party promised to work with employers across Canada to welcome 2,000 skilled refugees to fill labour shortages in sectors such as health care. Following the withdrawal from Afghanistan earlier this year, the Canadian government announced a plan to allow 20,000 Afghan refugees into Canada. Now, there is talk of increasing that number from 20,000 to 40,000.
Related to the promise to welcome skilled refugees into Canada, the Liberal platform proposed establishing a Trusted Employer system to streamline the application process for Canadian companies hiring temporary foreign workers to fill these labour shortages. Further, the platform promised to improve the Global Talent Stream by simplifying permit renewals, upholding the two-week processing standard, and establishing an employer hotline to allow companies to attract and hire workers. Finally, there was a promise to reform economic immigration programs to expand pathways to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers and foreign international students through the Express Entry points system.
Overall, although the Liberal electoral victory represents a return to the status quo, the changes proposed in their most recent platform mean that immigration policy in Canada may see some change in the coming years. If the various parties can work together effectively in the House of Commons, we may see some of these suggested policy changes implemented in the coming months and years.
Garson Immigration Law is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We successfully guide clients through the immigration process, with an eye toward the ever-changing regulations in light of COVID-19. We will work to find an effective solution for your individual immigration needs and ensure you are positioned for success with respect to your application.
The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the immigration fallout in relation to COVID-19 on both sides of the border and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about your potential classification as essential or about how you should comply with the changing regulations, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.