Tag Archives: federal skilled worker

Court report: Latest on the immigration backlog cull

19 Jan

The Canadian government was taken to court last week over its decision to scrap thousands of immigration applications from people who’d been waiting for up to eight years to hear whether they could move here.

I covered the case, heard at Toronto’s federal court from Monday to Wednesday, for Canadian Immigrant magazine:

CA screen grab

The lawyers representing the would-be immigrants, all of whom had submitted their applications before 28 February 2008, argued that the government acted unconstitutionally.

They told of families that had put their lives on hold in order to pursue their dreams of moving to Canada, passing up jobs and delaying buying properties as processing times for immigration files got progressively longer. I spoke to a British applicant with a similar tale for a story published last year on telegraph.co.uk.

The government, for its part, hit back that parliamentary sovereignty gave it the power to make decisions that were in Canada’s best economic interests.

Terminating the old files would help to speed up the immigration process for newcomers who applied under updated criteria and more closely matched the country’s labour needs.

But the authorities were also accused of discriminating unlawfully against applicants from Asia, the Middle East and Africa, in favour of countries that were “more like Canada”.

This was based on figures that Mario Bellissimo of Bellissimo Law Group said had been obtained from officials, showing the proportion of files that different visa offices around the world managed to process between 27 February 2008 and the June 2012 cut-off point. Those that weren’t processed by that date have been cancelled.

I’ve visualised this below (click on image for the interactive version, works best with Internet Explorer):

Proportion of backlog processed in different visa offices Many Eyes
More than half – 57 per cent – of all backlogged files were processed between February 2008 and June 2012, leaving 97,715 applicants (or 278,391, including dependants) out in the cold. But, as the map shows, applicants’ chances varied significantly depending on which visa office they applied to. No data was available for the Middle East.

The judge presiding over the case, Justice Donald Rennie, is mulling over all the evidence and is expected to make a ruling in around a month’s time on whether the cancellation was lawful.

Have you been affected by the backlog cull? Let me know your thoughts below.

Let me in! My latest Telegraph story

14 Nov

My latest story on the big immigration shake-up underway in Canada was published last week by telegraph.co.uk. It was based on the annual immigration report to parliament, along with more detailed figures published subsequently that set out the target quotas for all residency applications in 2013.

Interested in moving here? Wondering what’s going on?

Well, the quota for accepting foreigners isn’t actually changing. As in 2012, the target is for a maximum quota of 265,000 “economic migrants” – including those applying as skilled workers under the points-based system, students and young people doing temporary jobs abroad.

But the type of people they’re letting in is being modified. There’ll be fewer spaces for skilled types applying through the federal skilled worker program – and more for those who’ve studied or worked in Canada before.


It’s a “better the devil you know” approach that assumes people who’ve already integrated over here are more likely to succeed than those who haven’t yet made the move. The kind of risk-averse strategy that really gets Lord Sugar’s fingers waggling in the Apprentice boardroom.

But then, Lord Sugar doesn’t have voters to worry about. No doubt, immigration minister Jason Kenney will have paid close attention to the latest figures showing a hardening in public attitudes towards immigration. Even the famously tolerant Canadians have their limits, it seems.


But for every Canadian complaining about job-snatching newcomers, there are growing voices warning against xenophobia. Mr Kenney is keenly aware of this – so much so that his department reportedly spent nearly $750,000 over three years monitoring its coverage in the ethnic media.

He also felt compelled to brag last week that Canada was “the only developed democracy in the world in which there is no serious or organized anti-immigrant or xenophobic sentiment in our public discourse”. 

Is this true? The jury’s out, especially after the debacle in September, when parliament’s immigration committee invited  – then dismissed – two witnesses representing a website called Canadian Immigration Report. The site carries all manner of dodgy material, including a video from renowned Canadian white supremacist Paul Fromm.

Fromm’s chilling video (deliberately not linked) talks of the disappearance of a  “heartland” for European people and likens Canada’s traditionally welcoming attitude to  foreigners to  “ethnic cleansing and replacement”. There’s also  a distinct lack of subtlety to some of CIR’s own articles, such as one headed “White Canadians Going Extinct”.

I hope there aren’t any fascists reading my blog – aside from their unpleasant views they’re notorious trolls –  but if there are any here, I’ll just take a second to fuel their sense of impotent outrage by highlighting that Ryerson University’s Harald Bauder, an immigration policy expert, told me that all his research suggested Canadians were, in general, still incredibly welcoming towards migrants, compared with other countries.

Speaking for Toronto, you only have to walk around to see the extent to which people from different cultures and backgrounds have successfully settled here.

So troll away – you’re fighting a losing battle. Um, please don’t.

The future

Anyway…now we know the general shape of the federal skilled worker scheme and the number of people who’ll be let in. Still to come are the final details of the federal program and the fallout of other initiatives, such as the crackdown on sham marriages.

Watch this space.

John Howson

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