Jim Metcalfe – Director of Immigration: The Liberal government has been in power for about four months and we are starting to see changes in the way immigration is handled in Canada.
After 10 years of strident conservative management of the immigration portfolio, I’m beginning to see an administration which is more understanding and responsive to the humanitarian side of immigration. We have, of course, seen the Liberal response to the continuing refugee situation in the Middle East. But we have also seen sparks of enlightenment from Immigration Minister McCallum, who seems to be far more in tune with the difficult realities of situations around the world. Two of the most recent examples:
- the granting of a Temporary Resident Permit to an Afghan interpreter who worked alongside Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
- allowing a Roma refugee claimant to return to Canada after he was treated very shabbily by a Canadian lawyer.
Minister McCallum Must Address Systemic Delays
There are still many problems to be addressed, not least of which are the depressingly long wait times for spouses of Canadian citizens and other categories of applicants to come to Canada. Why does it take 24 to 36 months to process a spouse when their husband or wife is in Canada? It makes no sense whatsoever and I would hope that the Minister would set reasonable processing standards for all streams of applicants.
The other area I think he has to deal with is the almost complete demise of the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program. This allowed foreign students who graduated from Canadian schools and gained Canadian work experience to apply for permanent residence in Canada. The introduction of the Express Entry system has almost completely decimated this program for no good reason.
To date, I would give the Immigration Minister an “A” grade in reacting to problems in the system. However, I think he has a long way to go before he gets a triple A rating.