Last Updated on October 26, 2021
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named Nova Scotia MP Sean Fraser as Canada’s new minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on Tuesday during a Cabinet reshuffle roughly a month after the last federal election.
First elected to Parliament only five years ago, Fraser was sworn in Tuesday.
A lawyer by profession, Fraser’s last role was as parliamentary secretary to the deputy prime minister and minister of finance and to the minister of middle class prosperity and associate minister of finance. Fraser has never had a political role with the IRCC.
He replaces Canada’s former immigration minister, Marco Mendicino, who now takes over the country’s leaner public safety department.
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With former Public Safety Minister Bill Blair’s move to the Queen’s Privy Council and new role as minister of emergency preparedness, that function has been moved from public safety to the department of emergency preparedness.
Mendicino stickhandled Canada’s immigration policy as the country tried to hit the ambitious immigration goal of 401,000 new permanent residents this year during the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Canada On Track To Welcome 401,000 New Permanent Residents: Mendicino
In a tweet earlier this month, he expressed confidence that goal can still be achieved.
“With a little more than two months to go, Canada is comfortably on track to meet its goal of welcoming 401,000 new permanent residents this year, despite closed borders,” Mendicino tweeted on Saturday.
“That Canada is on the cusp of achieving such a goal in such times is remarkable.”
Canada is bullish on immigration, hoping to attract 1.2 million new permanent residents in the three years from 2021 through to 2023, and offering new pathways to immigration and more online services to make that happen.
“The past months have seen unprecedented challenges and change in Canada’s immigration system, Mendicino told the Standing Committee On Citizenship And Immigration in June.
“Immigration speaks to who we were, who we are and who we hope to be, and where we’re choosing to grow right now,” he said. “That’s why last October I was so proud to unveil our 2021 to 2023 immigration levels plan, an ambitious and responsible plan to welcome 401,000 new permanent residents this year.
During the pandemic, Canada put in strict border control measures, closing off Canada to all but essential travel. Despite that, the country continued to welcome new immigrants and temporary foreign workers and brought in new pathways to immigration.
Immigrants and TFWs Welcomed During Pandemic
“We created pathways to allow families, essential workers, international students and others to continue to come to Canada,” said Mendicino. “We conducted the largest draw in the history of our Express Entry system, inviting some 27,000 people who are already here and hard at work to apply for permanent residency.
By early June, the IRCC’s move to take its citizenship ceremonies online had resulted in more than 60,000 people becoming Canadians at roughly 10,000 virtual ceremonies.
Under a new pathway to permanent residency announced in May, Canada opened its doors for up to 90,000 international students, healthcare workers and other workers in essential occupations – and then offered them open work permits.
The size, speed and scope of the move was something the then-immigration minister described as unprecedented.
“This new open work permit ensures that those who have been playing critical roles throughout the pandemic can continue their extraordinary service,” he said. “Our message to them is simple: your status may be temporary, but your contributions are lasting – and we want you to stay.
The pathway to permanent residency announced earlier this year – whose timeline Mendicino has hinted may be extended – was created to accept:
- 20,000 applications for temporary workers in health care;
- 30,000 applications for temporary workers in other selected essential occupations, and;
- 40,000 applications for international students who graduated from an eligible Canadian institution.
Canada Added Refugee Pathways During Pandemic
Mendicino’s stint as immigration minister was marked by efforts to reach out to those seeking to flee persecution.
Under the guardian angels program, orderlies, nurse’s aides, nurses, assistant orderlies and certain support workers were allowed to apply for permanent residency as asylum seekers from mid-December through to Aug. 31 this year. By early June, almost 4,000 had applied.
Canadian immigration has also welcomed refugees.
“We’ve … shown compassion in upholding human rights by adjusting policies, including for the survivors of Daesh, which will help more Yazidi families reunite with their loved ones through our adjustment of the parameters of the definition of family,” said Mendicino in June.
“We’ve offered permanent residency to the families of the victims of flights PS752 and ET302. While those tragedies may have taken place far from our shores, they were also Canadian tragedies, and that’s why it is important that we took those steps to give justice to the families.”
When China clamped down on pro-democracy supporters in Hong Kong, Canadian immigration found new ways for many of them to seek refuge in Canada and work here through the issuance of work permits.
“We’ve created pathways to help young Hong Kongers as they cast their eyes abroad to choose Canada.
The IRCC has also undertaken measures to speed up processing, often a bone of contention among applicants and their families as they await decisions from Canadian immigration officials.
“We’ve made major investments to help speed up processing, and we’re becoming more efficient, including through hiring 62 new staff at our office in Sydney, Nova Scotia,” said Mendicino.
As of the end of August, Canada had welcomed 222,275 new permanent residents. At this rate of 27,784 new permanent residents to Canada per month, Canada could close the year with only 333,412 new permanent residents, or about 16.9 per cent short of its goal.
During the first eight months of this year, about 70 per cent of new permanent residents to the country have been Temporary Foreign Workers.