Ministers responsible for immigration stress people must use proper channels to come to Canada

Ahmed Hussen

THE Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) Forum of Ministers responsible for Immigration (FMRI) met recently to reflect on Canada’s immigration system. To make progress on Canada’s Vision Action Plan for 2016-2019, all Ministers agreed to work in partnership to ensure a fast, flexible, and efficient economic immigration system; strategic immigration levels planning; and effective settlement and integration supports for newcomers. This work will further Canada’s legacy as a diverse, inclusive and welcoming country, according to a statement by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on Friday.

The ministers highlighted the critical importance of a pan-Canadian approach to dealing with the current influx of asylum seekers, including enhanced intergovernmental collaboration to support orderly migration and scenarios planning, while protecting Canada’s border and the safety and security of Canadians. Given the growing influx of asylum seekers to Canada, the ministers articulated that, while Canada is an open and welcoming country, people must use the proper channels to come to Canada and could face significant risks entering Canada through irregular means. While anyone who claims asylum in Canada has the right to due process, the ministers stressed that there are no guarantees that an asylum seeker will be allowed to stay in Canada at the end of that process.

The ministers reached consensus on the importance of multi-year levels planning and increasing immigration levels to help meet Canada’s labour market needs, address demographic changes, and generate long-term economic growth. A multi-year approach to levels planning would provide increased certainty and help inform long-term planning. The ministers reiterated support for Canada’s international obligations and humanitarian tradition with respect to refugees.

Enhanced collaboration across governments is needed to support the delivery of high-quality settlement services and successful outcomes for all newcomers. To this end, the ministers agreed to strengthen partnerships and explore new models for collaboration. It was agreed that an important piece of this work will be the development of a federal-provincial-territorial plan to clarify how settlement priorities are set, and how information is shared among all orders of government.

The ministers also discussed issues related to the federal Excessive Demand policy, and committed to continue the dialogue so that the policy continues to recognize the need to protect health, education and social services, while treating applicants fairly.

The ministers discussed the promotion of Francophone immigration to communities outside of Québec with the goal of increasing Francophone immigration. Building on the momentum that was established in Moncton earlier this year, the ministers look forward to meeting with Francophonie ministers in 2018 in Ontario to assess progress.

Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and federal co-chair of the Forum of Ministers responsible for Immigration, said: “Canada has welcomed generations of newcomers who have contributed to Canada’s well-being, economic prosperity, competitiveness, and success as a nation. We are committed to ensuring that newcomers, including refugees, integrate and contribute fully to the Canadian economy and society. We continue to help newcomers find jobs and make lasting connections within their communities.”

Ian Wishart, Manitoba Minister of Education and Training and provincial-territorial co-chair of the Forum of Ministers responsible for Immigration, said: “Provinces and territories continue to play an important role in building an immigration system that supports the diverse economic and labour market needs of all regions of Canada and that meets our international humanitarian obligations. We are committed to maintaining an open dialogue and working together to achieve our shared immigration objectives in building a stronger, more prosperous and united Canada.”