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What is the real cost of fixing the backlog at the CIC?

Last year saw the worst backlog at the CIC processing centre in Vergreville, Alberta in terms of applications for work permits. I saw clients who waited for at least five to six months before they finally see their most awaited mail in their mail box, their work permits. Some were lucky to get their work permits processed in three or four months. It is not so bad for those people who were able to put in their applications for work permits on or before the expiry dates of their work permits because they could have implied status, meaning, they could continue on working for their employers even though their work permits have not showed up in the mail yet. But how about those people who were not very lucky to submit their applications on or before the expiry dates of their work permits. No implied status, so they would have to stop working until their new work permit arrives in the mail (although some didn’t have any idea what implied status is, or they were just so stubborn not to listen to advice of some co-workers or community support workers that they should stop working). And with the long wait hey would have to endure, they would be at risk of homelessness, long unemployment, and even possible exploitation by other employers who could take advantage of their abject poverty and non-status situation. So the longer the queue is in Vergreville, the more possibility of exploitation.

But in the early start of 2012, we have seen changes in CPC – Vergreville when it comes to processing time for work permit application. The five to six months wait is now reduced to 3 months, and as the end of the first quarter, we have seen even more reduction in the processing time. Client’s have reported getting their work permits in the mail in less than a month or even three weeks. Whatever they are doing in Vergreville must be good.

Is the CIC now on its way to full speed recovery? I hope it is really on its full swing in its effort to ease the backlog, and I hope that it also happen to other CPCs like Buffalo, Seattle, Sydney and MANILA (it takes a year to process an application for a work permit for foreign live in caregivers and more than six months for TFW work permits). But what could be the real cost of fast tracking or whatever they call it at the CPCs in fixing the backlog? With the recent cancellation of no less than 280,000 applications for the federal-Skilled Worker program (those applications submitted prior to 2008) and the other 160,000 applications for parental sponsorships in Canada, people in the immigration industry sector are just dumbfounded to hear from the government that the reason behind the cancelation was to fix the backlog. Why not just hire more staff and work on the applications? What about those applicants and their families who waited for five years only to find out that their applications ended up in futility. I hope the CIC continue on cutting down on the number of days in processing applications, but not on the expense of trashing older applications just to give way to newer ones.

Greg Lopez
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku

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