More jobs required at Citizenship and Immigration Canada?

In Canada, Immigration and refugee matters are federal responsibilities. The government department that oversees immigration and refugee matters is Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Over the past few decades, the Canadian immigration system has put great emphasis/importance on attracting and retaining skilled immigrants, Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s challenges is to manage and regulate this process and movement of people/immigrants while balancing economic, social and cultural development of goals, in addition to protecting and safeguarding the health, safety and security of Canadians.

In the face of considerable numbers or volumes of prospective applicants whether temporary or permanent immigration streams, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) continues to explore and develop strategies in order to manage the priorities and objectives of immigration programs and ensure that Canada remain a popular destination for talent, innovation, investment and opportunity for any immigrant.

The aforementioned words are clear, so are the objectives of CIC pertaining to immigration, but what we need to ask or to rephrase is to answer the question of whether this is considered sufficient and how can CIC perform their functions/duties in a much more effective manner?

The starting point was June 23, 19941; the creation/establishment of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

CIC duties involve performing the following roles listed hereunder:

  • Formulating Refugee and Immigration Policy.
  • Determines and decides who has a possible/credible case to be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) in order to apply refugee protection in Canada.
  • Selection of immigrants.
  • Determining Residency Obligations.
  • Granting Canadian Citizenship.
  • Issuing Security Certificates.
  • Issuing Canadian visitor visa (TRV), Canadian student visas, travel documents to Canada, work permits in Canada or Minister Permits.

The aforementioned is not an exhaustive list pertaining to the duties/functions that are undertaken by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

The question at hand is how to make CIC better?

It is noteworthy mentioning that the department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada “employs 5,000 staff”2 members.

Is 5000 employees considered sufficient to deal with such a humungous volume/number of prospective immigrants?

“Over the last decade, the number of FSW applications received has greatly exceeded the space available within the immigration levels plan each year, resulting in longer processing times and an increasing inventory”.3

According to Minister Jason Kenney

“It’s unreasonable to keep applicants waiting for another five years”.4

We strongly agree with the Minister’s Statement, yet we need to pose a question why is it taking five years and sometimes exceeding five years to process any immigrant category in Canada? Wouldn’t employing/increasing the numbers of staff/CIC employees make a major difference or change specifically to the operation or functioning of Citizenship and immigration Canada?

How do we make CIC better?

A difficult question, with no straight forward answer or reply; nevertheless as we mentioned earlier many have asked the question why doesn’t the federal government increase the number of staff?

There is no doubt whatsoever that human resources is what must be looked at and considered with extreme care in order to improve the performance of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. To a great extent, staffing is what we lack; lately all we hear about is one specific word which is “back-log” by CIC!

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has been entrusted with the formulation/establishment of policies pertaining to immigration; it is obvious that for the past few years CIC’s policy has been directed towards implementing pause and reducing the “back log” in addition to minimizing/restricting the influx of immigrants to Canada. Once again it is important to reiterate that gist behind such a policy was mainly to circumvent the initial problem “backlog”, instead of increasing the financial and human resources to deal with this ordeal rather than implementing pause or restricting immigration.

So how can we make CIC better?

It is firstly/primarily by concentrating on staffing? Which many consider it a key problem/issue particularly to the recent announcement by Citizenship and Immigration Canada that is

“planning to refund fees and return stale applications from nearly all those applicants who applied under the dated criteria in existence before February 27, 2008”.5

It seems that CIC’s stance is clear, staffing or increasing the number of employees is something not on their agenda for the time being, the federal government/CIC has already formulated a strategy of “efficiency over fairness”.6

Instead of trying to formulate a plan or strategy in order to deal with the backlog and avoid tarnishing the image of Canada, CIC is proceeding with its Economic Action Plan 2012; by “expunging those waiting in the queue”.7

Moreover, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney has praised the Australian immigration system; no one doubts the fact that such countries like Australia or New Zealand have managed to attract thousands of immigrate over the past few decades; but we need to stop here and ask ourselves a critical question have we ever heard of any country announcing to erase or strike out its prospective applicants/immigrants by simply deciding to refund the fees and denying them a fair and equitable opportunity to get assessed/evaluated?

Yes, we do agree that CommonWealth countries like New Zealand and Australia have been implementing an effective immigration system that has focused on attracting and retaining prospective immigrants. But, is CIC trying to adopt/follow such a model similar to Australia or New Zealand? Canada is neither Australia nor New Zealand; moreover formulating/passing stringent policies is not helping us!

According to the Global and Mail;

“between now and 2021, a million jobs are expected to go unfilled across Canada. Ottawa is making reforms to the immigration system but isn’t going far enough. We need to radically boost immigration numbers. With the right people, Canada can be innovative world power. Without then, we’ll drain away our potential”.8

CIC will not get better by implementing restrictive and stringent policies pertaining to immigration. Certainly a “plethora” of immigrants is not the solution; everyone is against immigrants under false pretense and without legal merit. We need to reiterate the point that Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s main concentration should be on eliminating the backlog; not by slashing/erasing the number of immigrants but by introducing policies and methods to tackle and solve such problems/issues at hand; by increasing the number of staff in order to deal with the enormous backlog and concentrate on the integration and transition of immigrants, in order to promote integration/assimilation, equality and freedom of choice of immigrants through measures/provisions that help immigrants acquire the essential knowledge and skill that they need/require to function in the Canadian Society.

Ahmad Al-Azem
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku


1 You asked about immigration and citizenship
2 Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada
3 Government of Canada transforms economic immigration program
4 ibid
5 Government of Canada transforms economic immigration program
6 Changes to immigration policy will affect nearly all aspects of Canadian life
7 ibid
8 Why Canada needs a flood of immigrants

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