CIMM - Opening Remarks for The Honourable Marco E.L. Mendicino, M.P., P.C. Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship - Dec 2, 2020

To the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM)
December 2, 2020
888 words (6-7 minutes)

Thank you, Madame Chair and members of the Committee.

I’m pleased to return to speak to you again about IRCC operations and spending, and in particular, our work to process applications and assist Canadians and those who wish to come here.

Global migration has been upended by the pandemic. From widespread travel restrictions to employees working from home, to constraints on our settlement partners, it has had a significant impact on my department’s work.

Yet we’ve taken quick action – providing additional resources where they are needed most, streamlining our processes and ramping systems back up.

We’ve come a long way since the onset of the pandemic.

Progress is being made every week - to the point where we have now surpassed overall pre-COVID treatment rates in some cases.

As of early November, our percentage of final decisions across all categories actually exceeded a similar period in 2019.

I would like to quickly note some other important decisions we’ve made to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and help those who wish to come to Canada.

One of the very first things we did was implement priority processing for those who need it most, like vulnerable people, family members seeking to reunite and those in essential services.

We’re making great strides in processing more applications virtually.

We’ve implemented adaptive measures, which extend submission deadlines for those facing delays due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Adding this flexibility also results in extended processing times, but this is necessary to ensure that no application is refused due to restrictions related to the pandemic.

In this most challenging time, families belong together. That’s why we’re redoubling our efforts to process applications so that immediate families can remain together in Canada or be reunited as soon as possible.

We’ve significantly increased the monthly number of Spouses, Partners and Children applications we’re processing– from fewer than 1,000 in May of this year to just under 5,400 in October.

This means we expect to process nearly 50,000 by the end of this year.

We’ve also introduced exemptions to allow immediate family members, as well as certain extended family members, to come to Canada.

Understandably, demand is very high, but we have processed tens of thousands of applications, and I’m pleased to share that these requests are being processed in 10-11 days, while the processing standard is 14 days.

International students bring so much to our country, which is why we have been working with many partners to implement a process that allows them to arrive safely and study in Canada.

With public gatherings off the table for the foreseeable future, we’ve taken citizenship ceremonies online, welcoming more than 42,000 new Canadians at virtual ceremonies. We’ve also recently re-launched citizenship testing online.

Finally, I’m pleased to share that we’ve developed a new process to assist Permanent Resident applicants who were approved on or before March 18, but whose Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR) and PR Visa have expired.

Officers have been reaching out directly to determine clients’ eligibility and willingness to travel and reopen files as necessary. These efforts often require more time and effort than usual, but we will soon have contacted everyone affected.

Since time is short, I will not be able to fully outline the many other ways we have responded to our new reality but I will simply say that we have adapted and have created the flexibility to respond to current circumstances.

Madame Chair, I am confident that the measures we are taking in immigration processing, combined with our recently announced immigration levels plan, puts us on a solid path forward to build a stronger, more prosperous and diverse Canada for the future.

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