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Minister Fraser provides an update on immigration backlogs – Canada Immigration News

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Published on August 30th, 2022 at 08:19am EDT
Updated on August 30th, 2022 at 09:20am EDT

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On August 29, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser joined other task force members to update Canadians and newcomers on what the government is doing to address the backlog and improve the immigration system.

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Fraser is an ex-officio member of the task force created in June to reduce wait times for immigration documents and passports. At a press conference, the task force discussed developments over recent months, as well as the underlying pandemic-related reasons for the significant surges in demand for travel and for other government services. The task force has been meeting regularly throughout the summer to identify priority areas for action, and outline short- and longer-term solutions.

Fraser highlighted how Canada is working to improve services at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) by:

  • Hiring up to 1,250 new employees by the end of the fall to increase processing capacity and tackle the backlogs in the short term;
  • Modernizing and streamlining IRCC operations to make Canada’s system more sustainable in the long term;
  • Welcoming over 300,000 new permanent residents as of August 22;
  • Issuing over 349,000 new work permits from January 1 to July 31 this year, compared to approximately 112,000 issued during the same period in 2021;
  • Finalizing almost 360,000 study permits between January 1 and July 31, 2022, compared to about 306,000 finalized in the same period in 2021;
  • Approving over 216,000 applications for the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel from March 17 to August 24, 2022 for Ukrainians and family members looking to find safety in Canada;
  • Introducing application status trackers for citizenship and some permanent residence applicants to have timely information on their files, which will be expanded to more clients in the coming year; and
  • Publishing monthly data on the IRCC website to keep Canadians up to date on our progress.

“Families, communities, and businesses deserve an immigration system that works for everyone,” Fraser said in a government media release. “Through targeted investments, hiring 1,250 employees to address the backlog, and the improvement of our online systems and processes, we will deliver on our promise to Canadians. We will reduce wait times and work hard to attract and retain skilled workers, as we continue to help communities across the country access the talent they need.”

The release said IRCC manages over 1 million applications from its inventories at any given time, and in 2021, IRCC finalized 1.7 million applications across all lines of business. The IRCC webpage that is currently tracking the backlog reports there are 2.4 million applications waiting in all IRCC inventories, down from 2.7 million in July. Of those currently in the IRCC inventory, 1.1 million are within service standards, while 1.3 million are in the backlog.

Also at the conference, Canada’s minister of families, Karina Gould, spoke about how Canada is improving passport processing. Namely, by increasing the Service Canada workforce; expanding simplified renewals of passports to adults who have had a passport issued in the last 15 years; implementing a new triage system to help manage lineups; expanding passport-pick up service to nine more Service Canada Centres; and expanding passport services to 24 rural and remote sites in Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada.

Travel Minister Omar Alghabra said Canada is working to reduce traveller wait times and airport congestion by hiring more staff; collaborating with airlines, airports, and related government departments including Canadian Border Services Agency to address bottlenecks; adding more eGates and primary inspection kiosks at Toronto Pearson International Airport; allowing screening officers to work while training to get more officers on the ground at airports; tripling the number of Transportation Security Clearances issued over the last year to quickly on-board new employees; improving pre-board security screening wait times across the country; and reducing the number of aircraft being held on the tarmac at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

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Joly to raise abortion, sexual violence in closing UN speech

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OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is urging countries to uphold women’s rights and abortion access while rooting out sexual violence, as the United Nations General Assembly comes to a close.

In a speech today in New York, Joly will summarize Canada’s priorities and concerns in foreign relations.

That includes being part of “a global coalition in support of equality” that will “defend against the growing attacks on women’s rights and freedoms,” according to drafted remarks in French.

“Sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls are being rolled back or denied in too many countries,” Joly’s drafted remarks say.

“Canada will always stand up for your right to choose.”

Though the drafted section on women’s rights does not mention the United States, Joly’s comments come after months of backlash to the U.S. Supreme Court allowing states to ban abortions, with some seeking to prosecute those who help women end their pregnancies in other jurisdictions.

Joly’s remarks instead mention women targeted by autocratic governments, such as the Taliban preventing Afghan girls from attending school. She calls out Myanmar’s military junta imprisoning female democracy activists and sexually assaulting Rohingya women.

The speech cites Iran’s crackdown on protesters seeking accountability after the death of Mahsa Amini, when morality police arrested her for “unsuitable attire” in allegedly wearing a hijab improperly. Joly also notes Ukrainian women have been subjected to sexual violence by occupying Russian forces.

Joly argues deliberate policy choices are resulting in rising violence against women, who are excluded from “the negotiating table, the boardroom, the classroom.”

The speech is likely to take place around noon local time, and will include some of the themes raised last week in New York by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. His remarks surrounded climate change and international development.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.

 

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

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Military en route to assist with recovery efforts

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Residents of Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec are coming to terms with the full scope of the damage left behind after post-tropical storm Fiona tore through the region over the weekend as one of the strongest storms Canada’s East Coast has ever faced.

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are being deployed to help with recovery efforts, with federal Defence Minister Anita Anand saying Sunday that about 100 troops a piece were either in place or en route to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. to provide assistance with the cleanup effort.

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said the immediate need is to provide food and shelter for those displaced by the storm, which is why the federal government is matching donations to the Canadian Red Cross.

However, he added that Ottawa will work with provinces to determine what is needed for recovery from a financial perspective, especially for Canadians who have lost everything. He said the first priority is the restoration of power and utilities, as well as clearing roadways to get essential supplies to those who need them.

At Fiona’s peak on Saturday, more than 500,000 customers across Atlantic Canada were without power, but by early Monday morning that number had been lowered to less than 300,000, with the vast majority in Nova Scotia. But even as crews workaround the clock to repair downed lines, some utility companies warned it could be days before the power is back on for everyone.

Authorities in western Newfoundland confirmed Fiona’s first Canadian fatality on Sunday. RCMP said a 73-year-old woman’s body was recovered from the water more than 24 hours after a massive wave struck her home, tearing away part of the basement. Her name was not immediately released.

The cause of death of a second person on P.E.I. has yet to be determined, but the Island’s acting director of public safety told a news conference that preliminary findings pointed towards “generator use.” No further details were provided.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Industry minister to represent Canada at former Japanese PM’s funeral

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OTTAWA — Federal Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne will represent Canada at former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s state funeral this week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was scheduled to visit Japan and attend Tuesday’s funeral, but cancelled those plans to oversee recovery efforts after post-tropical storm Fiona ravaged much of eastern Canada and parts of Quebec.

Describing Abe as a friend and ally of Canada, Champagne says the former Japanese prime minister played an important role bringing the two countries closer together.

Trudeau was slated to meet current Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as Japan prepares to take over as president of the G7 and the Liberal government finalizes its new Indo-Pacific strategy.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Champagne says he doesn’t know if he will meet Kishida on behalf of Trudeau.

But he says in addition to paying respects to Abe, he expects to meet Japanese officials to discuss the bilateral relationship and areas of mutual co-operation.

“Certainly, I think Prime Minister Kishida knows how deeply engaged we have been, certainly on the industrial, commercial and economic front,” he said.

“And we’ll be meeting with a number of people. I just don’t know if the meeting with the prime minister will still be happening.”

Champagne was in Japan delivering a speech to business representatives in Tokyo when Abe was assassinated by a gunman in July.

The industry minister says it was a surreal moment when he learned the former Japanese prime minister had been killed.

“I was literally giving a speech,” Champagne said. “I was like three-quarters into it and suddenly I started to see people looking at their phones. And someone came to the podium and advised me that something very tragic had happened.”

Abe’s state funeral is a sensitive topic in Japan, where such memorials are uncommon and the late leader’s legacy remains disputed.

Abe, a conservative nationalist in a country that embraced pacifism after the Second World War, was assassinated with a homemade firearm nearly three months ago.

In a reflection of deep divisions, an elderly man reportedly set himself on fire to protest the funeral, and more demonstrations are expected in the coming days.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2022.

⁠— With files from The Associated Press.

 

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

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