Jason Kenney announces Canada's immigration levels and priorities for 2009

Support migrant centric journalism today and donate

Jason Kenney, Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism has confirmed that Canada will maintain its positive stance on immigration by setting a target of 240 000 to 265 000 new permanent residents for 2009.

'Whilst countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia are talking about taking fewer immigrants, our planned numbers for 2009 are on a par with last year and are among the highest for this country over the past 15 years,' Minister Kenney said. 'The numbers reflect a continued commitment to an immigration program that balances Canada's economic, humanitarian and family reunification goals.'

Of the planned intake, some 60% will be accepted in the economic category. The remainder will be in the family and humanitarian categories.

The minister also announced the introduction of an 'Action Plan for Faster Immigration' aimed at those applicants qualified in 38 high-demand occupations in fields such as finance, health, mineral extraction and various skilled trades.

Under this plan, skilled worker applications from people on the high-demand list, those already having an offer of employment or those living legally in Canada for one year as an international student or as a temporary foreign worker will have their applications fast-tracked. All other federal skilled worker applications will not be processed and the application fee will be fully refunded.

The plan is retroactive to 27 February 2008, the date set by the Federal Budget, and should see an end to the increasing backlog in applications and eventually a decreased backlog.

'We expect new federal skilled worker applicants, including those with arranged employment, to receive a decision within six to 12 months compared with up to six years under the old system,' said Minister Kenney. 'All other economic class applications, including applicants chosen by Quebec, provincial nominees, the Canadian Experience Class, and live-in caregivers, will continue to be given priority.'

Jason Kenney went on to say that 'the eligibility criteria apply only to new federal skilled worker applicants and will not affect Canada's family reunification or refugee protection goals. Applicants who aren't eligible for the federal skilled worker category may qualify under another category, such as the Provincial Nominee Program, or as temporary foreign workers, which could then put them on a path to permanent residency through the new Canadian Experience Class. There are many ways to immigrate to Canada.'

'The recent steps this Government has taken to improve our immigration system will help ensure that Canada remains competitive internationally and responsive to labour market needs domestically.'