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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named Marco Mendicino as Canada’s next Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
A descendant of Italian immigrants to Canada, Mendicino represents the riding of Eglinton-Lawrence in Toronto, Ontario.
The 46 year old has an extensive background in law and worked for nearly 10 years as a federal prosecutor. During this time, he helped put members of the “Toronto 18” terror group behind bars.
Mendicino will now be responsible for making the case for immigration policies promised by the Trudeau-led Liberal Party of Canada during the recent federal election.
The Liberals won a minority government, meaning they will have to rely on opposition votes to implement their pledges to raise immigration levels, create a Municipal Nominee Program, waive citizenship fees and make the Atlantic Immigration Pilot a permanent program.
350,000 immigrants by 2021
During their four years in a majority government, the Liberals increased immigration levels from about 260,000 annually to a target of 330,800 in 2019. Those targets are set to increase by another 20,000 to 350,000 in 2021. All together this could mean over a million newcomers in the next three years.
The Liberals also put greater emphasis on refugees during their last term. They increased refugee class intake to 15 per cent, and reduced the economic class intake to about 58 per cent. Family class immigration levels remained untouched.
The Liberals have promised to make “modest and responsible” increases to immigration levels in the years to come.
Free Canadian citizenship applications
Currently, permanent residents must pay $530 to obtain citizenship, plus a $100 “right of citizenship fee.”
The promise to waive the fees altogether is a part of a renewed effort to reform the Citizenship Act to make acquiring citizenship more accessible regardless of socioeconomic factors such as age and income.
Municipal Nominee program
In an effort to promote immigration to communities of “all sizes” around Canada, the Liberals promised to implement a Municipal Nominee Program.
The program would open up a minimum of 5,000 new spaces for prospective immigrants and “allow local communities, chambers of commerce, and local labour councils to directly sponsor permanent immigrants.”
Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) was created to curb the population decline in Canada’s four Maritime provinces.
The AIPP allows employers in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island to hire foreign nationals for a job they cannot fill locally.
The pilot was extended an additional two years in May and is now slated to become a permanent instalment.
Since entering Parliament in 2015, Mendicino has served as the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and was involved in advancing government green infrastructure and social infrastructure in Toronto and across Canada.
He was re-elected as the Member of Parliament for Eglinton-Lawrence on October 21, 2019 with 53 per cent of voter support.
In 2017 he served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, where he helped to advance federal priorities such as Criminal Justice Reform, Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and Restorative Justice.
Mendicino worked at the Law Society of Upper Canada and was the President of the Association of Justice Counsel, where he served for two terms.
He has advocated for better laws on organized crime and access to justice before the House of Commons and the Senate.
The new Minister of Immigration also sat on a number of boards and has been involved with the John Wanless Childcare Centre, John Wanless Public School, North Toronto Soccer Club, COSTI Immigration Services, the Toronto Symphony Volunteer Committee and Heart & Stroke Canada.
“My career has always bent toward public service. I’ve served federally; I’ve volunteered locally. And as the descendant of Italian immigrants who came here with very little, I want to contribute in the greatest way I can,” Mendicino told Toronto Life.
Mendicino will be replacing Ahmed Hussen who lead Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) since 2017. Hussen will be taking over the role of Minister of Families Children and Social Development.
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