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As we approach the holidays it is customary to pause and reflect on this past year’s milestones and challenges. 2022 was another busy year highlighted by numerous and significant immigration policy changes and, frankly, bad headlines for the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. You do not have to reach far into your memory banks to recall that the CBC published several articles in the summer reporting that there was a backlog of more than 2 million immigration applications. Just this week, the CBC published a scathing report that tens of thousands of immigration applications have been assigned to inactive immigration officer accounts for processing. Despite these negative headlines, however, there have also been many examples of positive immigration changes and today I will review what I think is one of this year’s most underrated immigration success stories.

This past Friday, December 2, 2022, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Sean Fraser, and Tourism Minister and Associate Minister of Finance, Randy Boissonnault, introduced a significant expansion of employment opportunities for the spouses and working-age children of temporary foreign workers (TFWs) already in Canada. Recognizing the significant challenges that employers are facing in the current Canadian labour market, the changes introduced will now provide for employment opportunities for the spouses of lower and low skilled workers as well as for their working-age children. This new measure is set to be implemented in January 2023 and will last for a period of two years.

The Agri-Food Pilot (“AFP”) is a Canadian economic-class immigration program introduced in May 2020 that will remain in effect until May 2023. This 3-year pilot program was implemented to address the labor needs of Canadian employers in the agriculture sector. The AFP provides a direct pathway to Canadian permanent residence for skilled workers employed in agricultural industries across Canada.

Beginning on December 15, 2020, BC employers looking to hire foreign workers through the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) stream or caregivers through federal the Home Child Care Provider Pilot or Home Support Worker Pilot will need to register online with the provincial government to receive a “certificate of registration”. Although there is no charge to obtain a certificate of registration, BC employers will no longer be able to access these immigration programs to hire foreign workers if they have not obtained one.

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!

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