Canada immigration Minister Sean Fraser says Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is hiring up to 1,250 and will have those new employees in place by this autumn to cut through the growing backlog of applications and cut processing times.

“There is unprecedented interest in Canada as a destination for newcomers from around the world,” said Fraser on Wednesday. 

“A well-run immigration system supports our communities’ futures and allows our industries to tap into essential talent and new business opportunities, so they can continue to grow and remain competitive. We will continue to take steps to strengthen immigration, for the benefit of our businesses, our economy, and all Canadians.”

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The latest hiring blitz at the IRCC comes only four months after Fraser announced measures, on Apr. 22, that were to address labour shortages in Canada, including:

  • the resumption of Express Entry draws in July of this year;
  • a new temporary policy to give recent international graduates with expiring temporary status the opportunity to stay in Canada longer;
  • the extension of a temporary public policy to allow foreign nationals in Canada as visitors to apply for an employer-specific work permits without having to leave Canada until the end of February next year, and;
  • policy changes benefitting those who applied for permanent residence via the temporary resident to permanent resident pathway last year.

“With the economy growing faster than employers can hire new workers, Canada needs to look at every option so that we have the skills and labour needed to fuel our growth,” said Fraser back in April. 

“Immigration will be crucial to easing our labour shortage and these measures aim to address pressing needs in all sectors across the country while providing more opportunities for recent graduates and other applicants to build their lives in Canada and continue contributing to our short-term recovery and long-term prosperity.”

Backlog Of Applications Was Still Growing In July

In mid-July this year, the backlog of applications at the IRCC hit 2.62 million, up from 2.39 million roughly a month earlier, at the end of the first week of June. 

This week, Fraser chalked up the growing backlog of applications to a drop in the IRCC’s ability to process applications during the COVID-19 pandemic when many federal employees began working from home.

Ottawa’s responses to the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan and in Ukraine also dramatically increased the number of applications of those wanting to come to Canada.

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A big driver of the jump in temporary residence applications is the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET), a program launched by Ottawa on March 17 to welcome an unlimited number of Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country.

The latest IRCC figures show 495,929 applications were received under that program and 204,793 had been approved as of Aug. 17.

With that influx of applications flooding into the IRCC, roughly 54 per cent of those applications were older than expected under the government’s service standard. 

By bringing on more employees, the IRCC is hoping to have the staff it needs to process 80 per cent of all new applications within its service standards going forward.

Extra IRCC Employees Come In Wake Of $85m To Cut Processing Times

Those new hires come in the wake of the $85 million in support Ottawa provided to the IRCC in its Economic and Fiscal Update 2021, money earmarked to reduce wait times and return to pre-pandemic service standards. 

On Wednesday, the immigration minister claimed the immigration department has, in fact, been able to do that in what he termed “critical areas” such as the six-month service standard for the Express Entry permanent residence pathway, the 12-month service standard for family reunification through spousal sponsorship, and permanent resident cards.

As an example, he pointed to the IRCC’s processing of a record number of 406,025 new permanent residents to Canada last year. The IRCC is also currently on track to welcome 463,250 new permanent residents by the end of 2022.

In the first seven months of this year, Canada had already welcomed about 275,000 new permanent residents, the IRCC revealed in a statement.

The number of work permits being handed out is also skyrocketing. 

In all of last year, the IRCC issued a bit more than 199,000 work permits. 

This year, immigration officials had already processed more than 349,000 work permits by the end of July, or more than three times as many as the 112,000 during the comparable period last year.

“These include over 220,000 open work permits, which allow permit holders to work anywhere in Canada in almost any occupation. These work permits mean up to 1,700 new people every day are able to come work in Canada and help grow our economy,” said the IRCC.

Study permits issued to international students are also way up. 

“In 2021, IRCC finalized almost 560,000 study permit applications, surpassing our previous record from 2019 by 31 per cent,” said the immigration department. “IRCC is already outpacing that number in 2022, with almost 360,000 study permits finalized between Jan. 1 and July 31, 2022, compared to about 306,000 finalized in the same period in 2021.”

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