"While other countries have cut back immigration levels as a short-term response to the global economic downturn, our government is actually maintaining its immigration levels to meet the country's medium - to long - term economic needs," said Minister Kenney.
The good news is that the admission range for immigrants nominated by the provinces and territories has been increased. It is felt that provinces and territories are most likely to know most about their labour market needs and, also, that increasing the number of visa under this category will result in immigration benefitting the whole of Canada. Another benefit is that people coming under the provincial nominee programme will mean fewer people having to come under the federal skilled worker program which means increased resources so that skilled worker applications can be dealt with more quickly.
In the last year the Canadian Government has had an action plan that has resulted in faster processing of immigration visas. "People applying now under the federal skilled worker program can expect to receive a decision within six to twelve months, compared to up to six years under the old system," said Minister Kenney. "We've also brought the backlog of federal skilled worker applicants down from over 630,000 to 425,000—a reduction of more than 30%."
There is still a backlog of people waiting for decisions on their applications who applied before 27 February 2008. This is the date that the action plan took effect. Since this date a further 240,000 people have applied under the Canadian skilled worker program. The action plan has been a success and has resulted in twelve percent fewer people waiting for a decision than before. This is including the 240,000 new applicants.
"Before we changed the system, we had to process every application received. Since many more people applied every year than could be accepted, a backlog was created," said Minister Kenney. "Now that we are processing only those applications that meet specified criteria, our Government is making significant progress in reducing the backlog."
"The Government of Canada will continue to work with provinces, territories and stakeholders to make sure immigration meets the needs of communities, employers and families now and in the future," concluded the Minister.