2019-10-22 – Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party made a number of immigration proposals in the lead up to Monday’s federal election.
Returned to power, but with a minority government, which of the changes outlined by the prime minister are likely to happen?
The broad agreement among the major parties during the election campaign that immigration numbers in Canada were about right raises the likelihood of Trudeau getting support for his proposals.
Summary of Trudeau’s Proposals on Immigration and Citizenship
- Continued modest and reasonable immigration increases.
- Creation of a new Municipal Nominee Program.
- Making the Atlantic Immigration Pilot permanent.
- Modernization of the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S.
- Abolishing the citizenship application fee.
1) Continued managed immigration level increases
Given the consensus already mentioned between Canada’s main parties, a continuation of managed immigration increases under the Liberals can be expected to continue.
Canada’s immigration levels plan for the next three years is expected to be published soon, with the possibility of a delay due to the fallout from the election.
Last year’s plan saw levels expected to rise to 350,000 newcomers per year by 2021. The new plan, expected to set out immigration levels for 2020, 2021 and 2022, is not expected to be significantly different.
2) Creation of a new Municipal Nominee Program
The challenge of encouraging immigrants to spread out to smaller communities is one that clearly needs tackling, and the proposed Municipal Nominee Program is the Liberals’ attempt to do just that.
With the other parties – including the Conservatives – accepting those smaller communities need help with countering ageing populations and shrinking labour markets, Trudeau could expect support from the other parties for the Municipal Nominee Program.
3) Making the Atlantic Immigration Pilot permanent
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot is essentially another tool introduced by the Liberals aimed at bringing more immigrants to a region struggling with ageing populations and shrinking labour markets.
Making it permanent is another policy for which Trudeau could be expecting support.
4) Modernization of the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S.
The steady flow of asylum seekers crossing the border from the U.S. at unrecognized points has been contentious for Trudeau throughout his first term.
Those numbers have increased beyond 2018 levels in the summer months, meaning it remains a major issue, particularly in Quebec as the province that receives 95 percent of border crossers.
The modernization of the Safe Third Country Agreement is easier said than done, as it essentially means convincing Donald Trump to keep more asylum seekers in the U.S.
Expect irregular border crossers to continue to be a contentious issue, pending the outcome of the U.S. election a year from now.
5) Abolishing the citizenship application fee
Trudeau’s proposal to abolish the $630 citizenship application fee ($530 for processing and $100 ‘right of citizenship’ fee) is projected to cost taxpayers $100 million per year.
It is unclear where the other parties stand on this. The fee was significantly increased under the previous Conservative government from $100.