Speech Article from  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Speaking notes for the Honourable John McCallum, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

At a Media Availability on the 2016 Immigration Levels Plan

Brampton, Ontario
March 8, 2016

As delivered

Well, thank you, Ramesh.  And good morning everybody.  Let me just say what Ramesh said, that I’m really, really pleased and honoured to be here at the Brampton Multicultural Community Centre because I think this centre typifies what we are trying to do with immigrants, with refugees to not only bring the refugees in, but help to settle them down and launch them for success and the same with other newcomers.

And just earlier, I met with one refugee.  I met with an individual who’s been here three weeks, has five children and a wife.  The children wanted to come, but they were at school.  So first things first, I’m glad they’re at school.  It was a pleasure to meet with him, and I congratulate the centre for welcoming, I believe, 15 refugee families, which has been a huge amount of work for which we are all very grateful.

So today, I have an announcement which has been tabled in Parliament about five minutes ago, so therefore I’m allowed to talk about it.

Thank you for being here. I’m pleased to announce that today our Government tabled the 2015 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, which includes our Immigration Levels Plan for 2016. 

As Minister, I am committed to help strengthen our compassionate, open, generous and welcoming country through the immigration system and to opening Canada’s doors to those who want to contribute to our country’s success.  That commitment flows from the mandate that I was given by the Prime Minister several months ago, and it is reflected in the levels plan, which we are announcing today.

This plan will result in Canada welcoming between 280,000 and 305,000 permanent residents in 2016. This is a notable increase from the annual planning range that has been in place in recent years.  Indeed, it is the highest number of projected immigrant admissions put forth by the Government of Canada in modern times.  Our plan will improve processing times and backlogs will go down in our different immigration categories, including those for spouses, partners and children and parents and grandparents because we will be able to welcome more people to Canada.

Thanks to our proud tradition of welcoming immigrants, Canada has a well-earned reputation as a generous and welcoming nation. Canadians share the conviction that all our communities are strengthened when we come together to welcome newcomers who want to build a better Canada, and when we help those who need our protection and security, and give them the opportunity to build a better life.

We saw a great and inspiring example of that conviction in action over the past few months as we welcomed thousands of Syrian refugees to Canada.

The 2016 Immigration Levels Plan is grounded in this shared conviction and in our history of compassion.  It outlines a significant shift in immigration policy towards reuniting more families, building our economy and upholding Canada’s humanitarian tradition to resettle refugees and offer protection to those in need.

Let me go through each of these areas in more detail.  The level of the plan reflects the greater emphasis we are placing on reuniting families.  So in 2016, we are planning for 75,000 to 82,000 admissions in the family class, which consists of spouses, partners and children, parents and grandparents.  This plan sends a message about the importance of family.  While we work to support strong middle class families we know the value of keeping families together, including immigrant families, and this is the social – there is social value to this as well as an economic value that benefits all society.

When families are able to stay together, their integration into our country and their ability to contribute to their communities improves tremendously.

My particular focus is on reuniting close family members who in many cases are kept apart by processing times that are simply too long. For this reason we have increased by 12,000 the number of sponsored spouses, partners and children. Reducing these periods of family separation is a key goal for me, and I look forward to making significant progress in this area.

So just in case you didn’t understand the French, what I said is that the processing times are much too high and through the actions we are taking today, we will begin the very important process of reducing those processing times in coming years.

Of course we also know that immigration is critical to Canada’s economic future.  That’s why the economic immigration class will continue to account for the majority of all immigration admissions in 2016 with 151,200 to 162,400 admissions planned.  While that figure is down somewhat over 2015, it is in line with economic immigration admissions over recent years.  Indeed, from 2005 to 2014, the average admission level in the economic classes was 154,544 and this year’s plan is very much consistent with that historical range.

It’s also worth noting that numbers in the economic class include family members of principal applicants and that immigrants in all classes make meaningful contributions to our economy and our communities.  In other words, it’s not just the economic class members who get jobs and work.  It is also very much the case that family members and refugees also contribute to the Canadian economy through employment.

We will also welcome many more people seeking refuge from conflict and war, as we have done over the past several months and will continue to do for Syrian refugees.

Indeed, our plan will not only support our efforts to welcome Syrian refugees throughout 2016, but will also help us to open our door more widely to refugees from other parts of the world. Accordingly, we plan to admit 51,000 to 57,000 refugees and protected persons in 2016, as well as 2,800 to 3,600 humanitarian admissions, supporting others in need. This will include about 18,000 privately sponsored refugees – about triple the numbers in recent years –reflecting the generosity of Canadians all across the country.

So what I just said is that we are admitting 18,000 privately-sponsored refugees, which is three times more than in earlier years.  Thank you.  Not to mention in addition the 25,000 government-assisted refugees from Syria and also refugees from many other countries.

We will be consulting far and wide for the 2017 Immigration Levels Plan beginning this month with our partners in the provinces and territories with whom I’ll be meeting early next week and also followed by public consultations.

And just before I take your questions, I want to recognize this is an important day for one other reason — maybe several reasons, but one other reason — is that today we mark International Women’s Day, reaffirming our commitment to equality everywhere and by reflecting on the progress we have made, but knowing that still much more work needs to be done.

Thank you very much.


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