Immigration backlogs and humanitarian support
by Michael Scott
The blaring headlines on the TV broadcasts reminds us that backlogs do not disappear with wishful thinking or prayers. They require a purposeful plan, adequate resources, and time. Yes, the stories are correct in the sense that things will get worse before they improve. What is the current backlog of applications in processing cues?
Immigration Canada’s overall backlog stands at more than two million people across all processing streams. Temporary and permanent residence submissions have increased but Citizenship applications have decreased from 453,000 in March 2022 to 400,000 in April. There is a glimmer of hope through all the negative reporting.
Even as the country starts recovering from COVID, opening our borders and welcoming newcomers, the backlog has continued to grow. In July 2021 the backlog stood at 1,447,474 and increased to 1,813,144 people by December 2021, to 1,844,424 in March 2022 and finally 2,031,589 in April 2022.
At the same time, Canada has been moving to speed up the processing of Ukrainians displaced by war. The prime minister and several ministers travelled this week to Ukraine to see firsthand the ravages of the Russian invasion as well as appreciate the contributions of Canadian aide, humanitarian, and military. The opening of the embassy in Kiev is an indication of the country’s active support and attention to the challenge. Some question the actions of the government and forget Canada’s long history of welcoming the most vulnerable, but the country should be able to address the crisis and at the same time process applications in a timely fashion. Can they accomplish both at the same time?
In the first case there needs to be an acknowledgement that the response to the Russian invasion has had a major impact on the world, the world economy, and the reduction of the backlog. One has only to look at the backlog numbers which were growing slightly from 1,813,144 persons in December 2021 to 1,815,628 in February 2022. The numbers jumped almost 30,000 in the next month and then over 150,000 the following month. We can try and do both but admit that things are challenging and not easily overcome. It is one thing to say we are energy self-sufficient and then experience the sharp price increased at the pumps. The true cost of Putin’s invasion of the free and sovereign country of Ukraine is only beginning to be felt.
The impact of immigration activities related to the war in Ukraine did not affect all immigrant classes in the same way. It is noteworthy that only increases were experienced in some areas. The backlog of economic applications increased slightly from 230,767 in March compared with 236,443 in April; family class with 103,112 in March compared with 107,094 in April; humanitarian and compassionate 27,218 in March compared with 27,692 in April; and protected persons from 157,552 in March to 158,402 in April.
There has been a reduction in the Express Entry backlog in April with 45,000 compared with around 52,000 in March 2022. This reduction corresponds with Immigration Minister Sean Fraser’s announcement that normal processing would return by July of this year. The Canadian Experience Class backlog numbers decreased from 10, 338 in March to 8,363 in April; the Federal Skilled Worker Program decreased from 41,336 in March to 36,281 in April; and the Federal Skilled Trades from 589 in March to 537 in April.
There is some evidence that the department’s efforts to reduce the backlog are working but we need to be aware that the backlog made worse by the COVID pandemic has been impacted by Canada’s Ukrainian response. There is a lot to do and only a limited number of resources, in manpower and money to address things. There are some who would have Canada close its ears to the cries for help. Shut your eyes to the atrocities and they will go away. No, they do not go away, and history has taught us the weaknesses of a policy of appeasement. Let the aggressor take Ukraine and the Baltic countries and Poland are not far behind. and then what? The world is a global marketplace and war, pestilence, and famine in one area can and will affect us all. The problem is widespread, and it affects us all. The tradition of our country is to address the humanitarian crisis and work at reducing the backlog simultaneously. As a country we have a responsibility to do both. The majority of Canadians remain supportive of immigration. It works to improve the lives of those in need as well as improving the economic situation at home. There are two idiomatic expressions to cover our challenge. We can do two things at the same time or walk and chew gum and when the going gets tough, the tough get going. One final word on the county’s approach is that beyond hard work and patience, we have prayer. The presence of the prime minister in the war zone and reopening the Canadian embassy does not appear to be political posturing but a show of support for the brave people of Ukraine. They are being asked to stand and die, while we are challenged to be patient with processing times. There is a difference!
Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.