Immigration Ministers focus on long-term planning for more responsive, collaborative system

THE Forum of Ministers Responsible for Immigration (FMRI) met virtually on Wednesday to discuss the future of immigration in Canada as the country looks towards growth and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the pandemic created some disruptions to Canada’s immigration system, the ministers in attendance had an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned and to reaffirm their commitment to a federal-provincial/territorial (FPT) relationship that supports timely and meaningful partnership and collaboration, according tyo a press statement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Over the last year, FPT governments have implemented a number of facilitative measures and innovations to adapt the immigration system to challenges posed by the pandemic, including offering virtual services for clients and adjusting programming for provincial nominees and international students.

Participating ministers took stock of progress made towards achieving the FPT Strategic Plan for Immigration (SPI), which they had approved in July 2020. The ministers noted the FMRI’s progress on the SPI’s policy priorities, including immigration levels planning and strengthening regional economic immigration programs to support the vitality of communities and to meet labour market needs.

The ministers were encouraged to see that public support for immigration remains strong in Canada. Immigration will continue to be an important source of economic and population growth throughout the country, and the ministers agreed to continue to work together to ensure that long-term FPT immigration goals contribute to Canada’s future prosperity.

To further support Canada’s economic recovery in the months to come, the FMRI will work to reduce processing times by exploring improvements to the ways economic immigrants are selected and their applications processed. The FMRI will also work to enhance collaboration on temporary resident policies, programs, and pathways to permanent residency.

The ministers also reflected on a multitude of priorities, including multi-year levels planning with a focus on economic immigration; the regional distribution of immigration, leveraging the success of the Provincial Nominee Program; strengthening Francophone immigration outside of Quebec; and settlement services for permanent and temporary residents. The ministers agreed to work together so FPT immigration programs are complementary and responsive to regional needs and support an inclusive and prosperous Canada.

Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and federal co-chair of the Forum of Ministers responsible for Immigration, said: “Canada’s immigration system has played a critical role in our response to COVID-19 and will continue to help fuel our economic recovery. Today, we had productive discussions with the provinces and territories on how to better and more evenly spread the benefits of immigration across the country. Our ongoing collaboration, further strengthened today, has contributed to valuable initiatives that will help support population growth and a modern immigration system. Together, we can build a stronger and more diverse Canada.”

Arlene Dunn, Minister Responsible for Immigration and Minister Responsible for Opportunities New Brunswick and provincial-territorial co-chair of the Forum of Ministers responsible for Immigration, said: “Provinces and territories play a vital role in building an immigration system that Canadians’ value and trust. Immigration has never been more critical as we navigate the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic and work towards economic recovery and prosperity in all regions of Canada. Today, we recommitted to meaningful partnership and collaboration between provinces, territories and the federal government to achieve flexible and responsive immigration programming that supports our diverse and evolving labour market and population growth needs and priorities.”