The COVID–19 pandemic continued to impact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) operations and prospective clients in 2021–22, and is expected to continue to have an impact for 2022–23. IRCC has faced multi-faceted challenges: its workforce has had to adapt to working remotely; domestic, international and third-service providers’ offices have temporarily closed; processing paper-based applications in the context has been challenging; and inventories have grown as a result. IRCC’s clients also continue to be impacted by the pandemic due to border closures and impacts to international migrations, as well as impacts to IRCC operations with regards to processing applications.
To respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19 – both in terms of the immigration system at large and the organizational capacity of the Department – IRCC took great strides to move away from paper-based processes toward a modern, digital system and implemented a number of facilitative measures. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, IRCC continues to facilitate the entry of individuals and families, process Canadian citizenship applications, passports and other travel documents, while protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians. In response to the pressures caused by the pandemic, the 2021 Economic and Fiscal Update proposed $85 million in 2022–23 for IRCC and its partners to reduce processing times and backlogs in key lines of business. This funding will be geared towards addressing backlogs for temporary resident, permanent resident, permanent resident card and citizenship applications.
The Department balances competing pressures, notably: responding to domestic labour market demands and an increasingly mobile work force; contributing to overall economic growth; and addressing efforts to streamline service delivery and enhance the client experience, while responding to complex safety and security challenges.
IRCC interacts annually with millions of individuals, including those seeking temporary or permanent resident entry into Canada and subsequently settling into Canadian society, those pursuing Canadian citizenship, Canadians seeking a Canadian passport, or other individuals seeking travel documents such as a certificate of identity or a refugee travel document.
To ensure the successful integration of newcomers into the Canadian economy and society, IRCC engages regularly and extensively with federal partners, provinces and territories, as well as other stakeholders on a variety of key immigration-related topics, such as immigration levels planning, economic immigration, and settlement and integration of newcomers, including refugees and protected persons.
As well, IRCC ensures the best possible client experience through an array of online and advanced analytical tools designed to maintain a positive client experience and an ongoing trend of lower processing times and reduced application inventories.
In recent years, with the exception of 2020, the Department experienced significant increases in some of its most important lines of business as many around the world seek to enter Canada temporarily or permanently. Visitor, temporary worker and student volumes, which also experienced a significant decline in 2020–21, are expected to return to previously high volumes in future years.
IRCC’s challenge is to effectively manage increases in application volumes across all of its lines of business as international borders gradually reopen and Canada’s economic recovery takes hold, while working with stakeholders to ensure that newcomers have the best opportunities to succeed in Canada’s economic recovery following the negative economic impacts due to COVID–19.
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