This article was published in the September 10, 2014 issue of the Asian Pacific Post.

In a news release published in August, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) Minister Chris Alexander announced that Canada had welcomed 150,000 new citizens in 2014.  Since 2006 Canada has welcomed over 1,300,000 new Canadians. 

From 2006 to date, Canada has enjoyed the highest sustained levels of immigration in its history.  In a 2013 report to Parliament, Minister Alexander announced that for the eighth consecutive year, Canada planned to admit between 240,000 and 265,000 permanent residents in Canada in 2014.  This is an important issue to consider, given that most permanent residents in Canada go on to apply for Canadian citizenship.  Accordingly to a 2011 Census, about 86% of permanent residents went on to become Canadian citizens.

By far, the largest groups of new permanent residents admitted to Canada each year are economic immigrants who qualify under diverse immigration programs that include the Skilled Worker, Canadian Experience Class, Skilled Trades and the Live-In Caregiver programs.   After economic immigrants, the second largest groups of new permanent residents are family class immigrants under Canada’s policy of family reunification. These immigrants include spouses, dependant children, parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residence under Canada’s sponsorship programs.  Together, these two broad categories of immigrants accounted for approximately 88% of permanent residents admitted in 2013 (57% economic immigrants and 31% family class).  The remaining permanent residents to Canada are made up of other categories such as refugees, and applicants approved on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Many Canadians may not be aware of the actual immigration levels in Canada, despite the consistent levels of immigration planned by CIC year after year.  However, CIC is keenly aware that these are important issues to be considered by the Canadian public.  How many immigrants should be allowed in Canada every year? What mix of immigration categories should be admitted? What is the best mix for the Canadian economy? To help answer these questions, CIC ran an online consultation between June and August in 2013 with Canadian stakeholders to obtain public feedback on the appropriate levels of immigration to Canada.  A report on the results of the consultation is expected to be made available by CIC by winter of this year.

Whatever the results of the consultation, it will be worth noting whether feedback from Canadians will actually be reflected in CIC policy.  We have already seen that CIC is not afraid to make changes when it identifies a problem and a need for change in the name of a faster and more responsive immigration system.  Over the past several years, CIC has introduced many reforms that have dramatically changed the entire immigration portfolio, including both economic and family class immigrants alike.  These include introducing application caps and language requirements for economic programs and reducing the age of dependency to limit the sponsorship of children to Canada.   What is certain is that we can expect more change in the near future as the Canadian government continues to work towards modernizing the Canadian immigration system to support Canada’s economy and its national interests.