CIMM: Should government announced new immigration measures include additional resources intact?

My question really centres around this. What happens a lot is that the government takes the approach of robbing Peter to pay Paul. That is to say, they will introduce new immigration measures without actually providing additional immigration levels or resources to accommodate those new immigration measures. As a result, you have a huge backlog that would be impacted. This means that existing applications would be further delayed. The reality is that, with the privately sponsored refugee stream, there were significant delays even prior to the Afghanistan crisis.
When the government introduces new immigration measures, should they introduce them without ensuring that there are new resources and immigration level numbers to accommodate them, or should they do those special immigration measures with additional resources intact, both level numbers and staffing for processing?

Citizenship and Immigration Committee
Oct. 7th, 2022, 3 p.m.
Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Thank you very much, Madam Chair, and thank you to the witnesses.

My question really centres around this. What happens a lot is that the government takes the approach of robbing Peter to pay Paul. That is to say, they will introduce new immigration measures without actually providing additional immigration levels or resources to accommodate those new immigration measures. As a result, you have a huge backlog that would be impacted. This means that existing applications would be further delayed. The reality is that, with the privately sponsored refugee stream, there were significant delays even prior to the Afghanistan crisis.

My question is for Deacon Rudy. 

When the government introduces new immigration measures, should they introduce them without ensuring that there are new resources and immigration level numbers to accommodate them, or should they do those special immigration measures with additional resources intact, both level numbers and staffing for processing?



Deacon Rudy Ovcjak
Director, Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto

Certainly, in my opinion, it would be prudent.... In any of these extraordinary situations like the Afghani or the Ukrainian crisis, where a response is needed and thought important enough for Parliament to act on, additional resources ought to be provided, absolutely. 

The problem we've always had is that resources are redeployed from processing existing refugee populations to now process the applications of this newly created target. That's patently unfair to the refugee populations who have been already waiting in the queue for many years and living in very intolerable situations. 

I think the levels plan should be adjusted accordingly and resources should be deployed.


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Thank you very much.

Yes, there's a way to address that, which is to do exactly as you are recommending.

Now, in terms of additional resources put in place, oftentimes the government will, with great fanfare and an announcement, say that they now have additional resources and that, going forward, immigration standards will be met and people will be processed in this period of time. Yet they do not address the fact that there are people in the backlog, thousands of people, and they're at the back of the queue because their standard has already been missed, but there's no measure to really tackle that backlog. 

What do you think the government should do to ensure that the backlog and those who have already applied are not being left further behind?




Deacon Rudy Ovcjak
Director, Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto

I think it's important to have almost a “first in, first out”, a first-come, first-served basis. We have applications that were submitted in 2017-18 and still haven't been processed, so I think first-come, first-served.... As they come in, they ought to be processed, as opposed to the current situation. Now with the Afghani crisis, they are put in the front of the queue, so everybody else is pushed back until we hit that 40,000 target, and there will be little movement in the other refugee populations. I think that's what is going to take place. 

It's early in the process right now, but our October number of arrivals has already decreased 50% from the year prior, so that's an indication that existing refugee populations already in the queue have been slowed.
Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Could the government not have two parallel processes to ensure that those in the backlog are being targeted as well and, given the urgency of the current situation, that they also have another stream to do it? It's not robbing Peter to pay Paul, but having two parallel processes in place to address both the backlog and new applications.



Deacon Rudy Ovcjak
Director, Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto

That's a brilliant approach, and I think it would be one that I would absolutely support. Again, that kind of goes back to the point that, if you're going to set extraordinary targets, additional resources need to be deployed and provided for that additional stream.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP 

Thank you very much.

I have the same question for Mr. Jade.



Dory Jade
Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants



In answer to this, we have proposed non-regulatory options, and this is why. If you look at the backlog, there are different sections. While refugees are very important, it is not the largest group. Reducing the largest group, the largest number of applications, which is temporary residents, would lead to resources being available for other streams, like permanent residency, including refugees. This is exactly what we proposed to the government and to IRCC. The fact that you reduce the backlog of temporary files will allow you more space. It's like a big machine that needs to move forward.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Because there are different streams, sometimes for the government to conflate one stream with another doesn't make sense either. Therefore, should the government not ensure that there are adequate resources, both in staffing and in immigration levels, in place for each of the different streams? Otherwise there'll always be a stream left behind—
https://openparliament.ca/committees/immigration/44-1/34/jenny-kwan-15/
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