ARCHIVED – Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, 2013 – Message from the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

As Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, I am pleased to present the Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration 2013.

Immigration plays a key role in driving our national economy. That is why, for the eighth consecutive year, we will maintain an overall admissions range of 240,000 to 265,000 new permanent residents.

For Canada to remain competitive in the global economy and support our national interests, we must ensure our immigration system is designed to best meet our current and future labour market needs. This past year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) continued to pursue our vision for a modernized, faster, more flexible and more responsive immigration system.

Reforms to our economic immigration program will accelerate the arrival of highly skilled immigrants who can fill acute labour market shortages, integrate more quickly into our work force and immediately begin making contributions to our economy.

After cutting the large backlog in the Federal Skilled Worker Program by 90 per cent since 2008, our Department has set the stage for more comprehensive reforms to Canada’s immigration system. This will include the Expression of Interest application management model that is being developed in consultation with our provincial and territorial partners, as well as Canadian employers.

Instead of long wait times of more than seven years for some applicants, this model will be a key feature of a fast and flexible immigration system that is more responsive to Canada’s economic needs. It will prevent future application backlogs and will more directly match skilled immigrants with the nation’s labour market shortages.

The launch of the new Start-Up Visa Program pilot in April 2013 will further help Canada’s business community attract the world’s best and brightest. The first of its kind in the world, this program targets entrepreneurs who will fuel economic growth through the creation of new businesses and jobs. At the same time, the launch of the new Federal Skilled Trades Program in January 2013 is key to our efforts to help ensure that labour force needs are met in key occupations important to Canada’s economic growth.

While the government is ensuring our economic immigration program best serves the needs of the economy, we continue to balance our immigration program with family and humanitarian objectives.

As we enter the final phase of the Action Plan for Faster Family Immigration, CIC has published regulatory proposals for a redesigned Parents and Grandparents Program. In order to be sustainable, the redesigned program must avoid future backlogs and bear in mind Canada’s generous health-care system and social benefits. Until the launch of a new program, we will further bring down the backlog by continuing to admit the highest number of parents and grandparents in many years. Furthermore, many parents and grandparents continue to come to Canada under the super visas—over 15,000 super visas had been issued as of May 2013.

With respect to Canada’s humanitarian tradition, the new asylum system now offers protection to bona fide refugees in weeks and months, rather than years. CIC also continues to honour Canada’s commitment to resettle refugees from overseas.

In the years ahead, immigration will continue to play an important role in shaping the Canadian economy and society. The reforms to the immigration system will foster economic growth and ensure long-term prosperity. They will also ensure we can reunite families within a reasonable amount of time. Finally, changes made to the asylum system will ensure Canada remains a world leader in offering protection to vulnerable persons.

I look forward to continuing our work in improving Canada’s immigration system, to ensure it best serves the needs of all Canadians.

The Honourable Chris Alexander, PC, MP
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

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