March 23, 2016 – Yesterday, the Minister of Finance tabled Budget 2016, the first budget of the current government’s mandate. In a Chapter entitled “Canada and the World”, the Minister summarized the Government’s goal of expanding immigration to Canada. The Government recently announced a target of 300,000 permanent resident admissions for 2016 which is a 7% increase over the 2015 target level. The increase reflects the Government’s significant commitment to the Syrian refugee crisis and to making family reunification a priority for 2016. The Government has also announced that they will decrease the overall economic immigrant admissions to Canada by 11% in 2016. As evidenced by the Express Entry draw today, the government is making good on its promise to reduce economic immigrants by selecting only 1,014 applicants who were assigned a minimum of 470 points. Essentially, the same number of Invitations To Apply were issued today as were issued in the previous draw which took place on March 9th, 2016. With approximately 1,000 Invitations To Apply issued in each of the March 2016 draws, this is the lowest number of Invitations to Apply issued since April of last year.
Budget 2016 specifically proposes increased spending to support the Government’s immigration priorities:
1. Expanding Canada’s Intake of Syrian Refugees – The Government proposes to provide $245 million over five years, starting in 2016–17, for the identification, overseas processing, transportation and resettlement of the additional 10,000 Syrian refugees beyond the original commitment to accept 25,000 refugees.
2. Reducing Application Processing Times – The Government has proposed to provide $25 million in 2016–17 to support faster and more predictable processing times for family sponsorship. The new funding will be used to target specific applications backlogs in Canada and overseas, and to reduce processing times on sponsorship decisions.
3. Achieving Higher Permanent Resident Admissions – To support higher admissions levels and to help newcomers fully integrate into Canadian life and contribute to our economic growth, Budget 2016 proposes to provide $56 million over three years, starting in 2016–17. New funding would support the processing of new permanent residents and increased settlement programming. Settlement programs provide immigrants with critical assistance such as language courses and skills training to facilitate their transition into the Canadian economy and society.
The Government’s decision to increase immigration funding is long overdue. Time will tell whether this funding will achieve the goals that the Government has identified for the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.