Justin Trudeau’s Government may continue several crucial immigration policies and approaches of the last 4 years. The recent released Liberal Party of Canada’s 2019 federal election platform consists of four immigration agenda they will execute if Canadian voters return them back to power on October 21.
Those promises by Justin Trudeau’s Government are:
- Advance with modest and responsible increases to immigration;
- Create a “Municipal Nominee Program;”
- Making the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program permanent; and
- Making the application process for Canadian citizenship free for permanent residents.
Over 400,000 immigrants per year?
The Liberals’ promise to expand Canada immigration comes as no surprise.
Since their advent to power in 2015, the Liberals have gradually expanded immigration levels from about 260,000 yearly to a target of 330,800 in 2019. That target is set to reach 350,000 by the year 2021.
More latest new, however, is that they are suggesting that the expansion could continue beyond 2021, which also means Canada’s intake of newcomers could get even closer toward the 400,000 mark-new immigration levels in the final years of a renewed Liberal mandate (i.e., 2022 and 2023).
What will the Municipal Nominee Program look like?
While the establishments of Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) in 1999 has played a crucial role in promoting immigration to smaller provinces such as Saskatchewan, Manitoba and those in Atlantic Canada, newcomers continue to mostly settle in Canada’s biggest cities.
With a few exceptions, most provinces in Canada see at least eighty (80) per cent of their immigrants move to one city, which results in smaller municipalities struggling to solve their labour force requirements through immigration.
Details is yet to be released as to what the proposed Municipal Nominee Program (MNP) would be like but recent pilots established by the Liberals such as the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) and Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) provide us with an idea of what to expect.
The Liberal party states that a minimum of 5,000 new slots will be dedicated to the MNP. This indicates that the MNP is likely to be launched as a pilot, just like every other economic class program created since 2013.
This also mean that up to 2,750 principal candidates could be chosen through the MNP (the maximum number of principal candidates that can be taken through a federal pilot program), with the remainder arriving as dependents and spouses.
Sharing 2,750 principal applicants spots across a country as big and diverse as Canada would be hard. The Liberals may decide to use similar approach as the RNIP whereby they invite municipalities from across the country to submit applications to obtain approval by the federal government to “recommend” immigrants.
Like the RNIP, the MNP may probably allow designated municipalities to “recommend” migrants who have a job offer and/or connections to the municipality. The federal government would then assess the qualifications of such prospective immigrants to ensure they fulfill certain conditions such as language proficiency, work experience and educational credentials.
Among the undisclosed issues is whether municipalities covered by the RNIP and AIP would also be allowed to take part in the MNP.
On the otherhand, inviting these municipalities to participate would provide them with an additional tool to recruit fresh immigrants. Doing so, however, will make it even more harder to distribute 2,750 principal applicants spots across Canada.
Why make citizenship applications free?
A Canadian permanent resident is allowed to apply for Canada citizenship after they have been physically present in the country for a minimum of three years, during the five years before lodging their applications.
Over eighty (80) per cent of permanent residents end up becoming Canadian. But critics have argued that the higher fees has made it more harder for immigrants with lower wages or income to obtain citizenship.
A study carried out by Andrew Griffith, a leading researcher on Canadian citizenship policy, argued that the higher fees is among the reasons why citizenship applications have dropped in recent years. Other deterrent factors included more stringent residency, language proficiency, and citizenship test criteria, which the Liberals reformed in 2017.
The promise by Justin Trudeau’s government to remove the fees altogether is part of those earlier steps to reform the Citizenship Act and make obtaining citizenship as easy as possible regardless of socio-economic factors like age and income.