Government to increase immigration to allow more skilled workers and immigrant families in 2017 #cdnpoli #immigration

The government is boosting the base number of immigrants allowed into Canada next year to 300,000, to help drive economic growth as the country grapples with an aging demographic.

The previous target from 2011 to 2015 was 260,000, but that changed to 300,000 this year because of what Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum called the “special circumstances” of the Syrian refugee crisis. That number will now be the permanent base.

The government’s economic growth council had recommended raising immigration levels to 450,000 over the next five years, but Minister McCallum rejected that target.

“That number is a conceivable number for some date in the future, but certainly not for 2017,” he said.

There has been much debate over the targeted immigration level at a time when Canada struggles with high unemployment.

There have also been questions about Canada’s ability to smoothly integrate newcomers into communities.

“We do it well, but I think we could learn to do it better,” Minister McCallum said.

The 2017 targets boost entries for those in the “economic” class — skilled workers, businesspeople and caregivers — to 172,500 from 160,600. In the family class, the number of sponsored spouses, partners, children, parents and grandparents will climb to 84,000 from 80,000.

Source: CBC

Canadian Government to Spend Millions to Upgrade Immigration Detention Centres #immigration #cdnpoli

The Canadian government is committing millions to upgrade immigration detention centres across Canada. Immigration detention facilities in Vancouver and Laval, Que., are also set to be replaced.

Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the $138-million announcement Monday morning at the Laval Immigration Holding Centre.

The government will soon begin consultations with stakeholders with the aim of finding alternatives and ways to minimize the number of minors in detention.

According to the Canada Border Services Agency, there are, on average, 450 to 500 people who are detained at any given time under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

A Red Cross investigation in 2014 found numerous shortcomings at facilities for immigrant detainees, including overcrowding and inadequate mental health care.

Newcomers are often held in provincial jails or police facilities alongside suspected gang members and violent offenders.

The government’s reform objectives include:

  • Increasing the availability of alternatives to detention.
  • Reducing the use of provincial jails for immigration detention to prevent the interaction of immigration and criminal detainees.
  • Avoiding the detention of minors in the facilities as much as possible.
  • Improving physical and mental health care offered to those detained.
  • Maintaining ready access to facilities for agencies such as the Red Cross, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as well as legal and spiritual advisers.
  • Increasing transparency.

Source: CBC

Government eases Restrictions on Private Sponsorship of Syrian Refugees #cdnpoli

The government is reversing changes it had made to the Syrian refugee program to ease restrictions on private sponsorship.

Having reached their target from the election campaign, the government had moved to count Syrian refugee applicants against the overall limit of refugees entering Canada in 2016. The government had decided it would cap the number of new refugee applications from around the world at 10,500 people. Even as hundreds of Syrians were arriving and private groups were submitting applications daily, it decided applications for Syrians received as of Jan. 1 would count toward the cap.

The public outcry had come from citizens and groups that had privately raised money to bring Syrian refugees to Canada. They had raised a great deal of money and secured accommodations to bring Syrians to Canada, and with the changes, may not have had their family arrive until early 2017.

The government has said it has learned a lot from the accelerated Syrian refugee program, and that they intend to apply the lessons to the refugee program more broadly to improve efficiency and reduce wait times.