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Proposed reduction to Skilled Immigrants, Parents, and Grandparents in 2011

On February 13, 2011, Minister Kenney boasted that 2010 saw the highest numbers of legal immigrants entering Canada, in the last 50 years. That number was estimated at just over 280,000. About 1/3 were economic immigrants (such as Federal Skilled Workers, Canadian Experience Class Applicants, and those nominated under the various Provincial Nominee Programs). Minister Kenny emphasized Canada's goals of using skilled immigrants to bolster the Canadian economy, and Canada's prosperity.

However, just a few days later on February 16, 2011, information obtained through Access to Information requests showed that for 2011, the government planned to reduce the number of Federal Skill Workers who would be admitted to Canada by as much as 20%! The number of parents and grandparents who are sponsored to Canada is also expected to be reduced.

Minister Kenney's response was that a trade-off was needed in terms of who was allowed to immigrate to Canada. He stated that the government was focused on "economic growth and prosperity", and would encourage immigrants who could work, pay taxes, and contribute to the health-care system once admitted. If this is in fact the government's focus, does it explain the proposed significant reduction in skilled immigration to Canada?

Will the reduction to family class (parents/grandparents) sponsorships affect skilled immigrants from wanting to come to Canada? Maybe. Extended families are often common in other countries. Skilled individuals often choose to immigrate to Canada because they can later sponsor other family members. If they are now prevented from doing so, the result could be that such individuals choose some other country to which they will immigrate. This is a loss to Canada.

Right now, according to processing times posted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, it is taking upwards of 41 months for the sponsor to be assessed, and a further 12-57 months (depending on the country) for the visa office to process the permanent residence applications of those coming! If fewer people are admitted each year under the family class, those who have applied will undoubtedly continue to wait even longer for their turn.

Although these parents and grandparents may not "work" in the traditional sense, they often assist the newly immigrated family to establish themselves in Canada, and to succeed. With the rising cost of childcare in Canada, these individuals provide an invaluable service to working immigrants, who otherwise may not be able to afford childcare while employed outside the home. It also helps new skilled immigrants to have family support close by. Living in North America can be very isolating for many individuals who immigrate here.

In short, I think this week's immigration developments send a confusing message as to what our government wants in terms of immigration to Canada.


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