Posted on - Nov 08, 2016

By Catherine A. Sas QC

Catherine Sas Q.C.

Last week was full of announcements on the Immigration front for the Liberal government. On Monday, October 31, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Minister John McCallum, tabled his annual report to Parliament setting immigration levels for the year ahead. The next day, Minister of Finance Bill Morneau introduced his Global Skills Strategy to make it easier and faster for companies to bring foreign workers to Canada. Let’s see what the future holds!

Minister McCallum surprised many by holding fast the number of permanent residents to be welcomed to Canada next year. Many had expected him to increase immigration levels to 400,000 or more. The Liberals have long held that Canada’s immigration levels should be set at 1% of the population – 360,000 immigrants per year. While 300,000 is about 40,000 more applicants per year than under the former Conservative government, it was widely expected that there would be a further increase from last year’s threshold.

The Minister also emphasized economic and family immigration over refugees and humanitarian cases shifting his targets as follows:

2016 2017
Economic 160,000 172,500
Family 80,000 84,000
Refugees 55,800 40,000
Humanitarian 3,600 3,500

While the increases to the economic program are always welcome in Canada’s aging population, the increase in the family class category is not significant enough to likely bring any improvement of processing times in reuniting families in Canada. Notwithstanding a slight reduction planned admissions for refugees, 2017’s target of 40,000 is double that of 2015 and previous years signalling a continued strong support of Canada’s refugee program. For Minister McCallum’s full levels plan see this link.

On Nov. 1, 2016, Finance Minister Bill Morneau showcased his Global Skills strategy to help Canadian businesses attract the talent that they need to succeed. The new strategy is aiming for an ambitious two-week standard for processing visas and work permits for low-risk, high skill talent for Canadian businesses specifically targeting:

High-growth Canadian companies that need to access global talent in order to facilitate and accelerate investments that create jobs and growth including companies that can demonstrate labour market benefits such s increasing investments, knowledge, and Canadian job creation; and

Global Companies that are making large investments, relocating to Canada, establishing new production or expanding production, and creating new Canadian jobs.

The announcement was short on details of exactly what Canadian businesses will benefit from their new strategy or when the program will be implemented.

In addition, Minister Morneau indicated that a new short-duration work permit exemption will be introduced to allow for companies to bring in workers or academics for up to 30 days without the need for a work permit.

This will relieve companies of the effort, expense and in some cases, lengthy wait times, of making work permit applications on behalf of their personnel who will only be in Canada for a short period. The speedier process in of applications (or doing away with the need for them) is always welcome news for Canadian employers. From the point of view of this Vancouver immigration lawyer, let’s hope these changes come in sooner rather than later!

Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 25 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 5 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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