On June 17, 2020, Canada’s parliamentary committee on citizenship and immigration held a session to explore how the country’s immigration system is adapting during the coronavirus crisis.
Both the immigration minister, Marco Mendicino, and the deputy minister, Catrina Tapley, were on hand to answer the questions of parliamentarians.
Mr. Mendicino is an elected politician that serves within the cabinet of the governing Liberal Party of Canada. He is responsible for implementing the government’s mandate at the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Ms. Tapley is the top public servant at IRCC and works in a non-political role to manage the department’s operations.
Mendicino opened the session by providing a 5-minute update. He explained that IRCC continues to be guided by its 2020 immigration levels plan.
While the plan is targeting the arrival of 341,000 new permanent residents this year, Tapley said it was doubtful this target would be met in 2020. Nonetheless, she stressed that IRCC is continuing to process applications and land individuals during this period.
In fact, she noted that during the week of June 8, IRCC completed 5,000 virtual permanent residence landings for both individuals currently inside and outside of Canada who had their applications approved prior to travel restrictions taking effect on March 18.
Moreover, Tapley noted that 300 virtual citizenship ceremonies were also held the week of June 8.
Mendicino was asked about a number of immigration programs concerning the economic, family, and refugee classes.
Mendicino stated that 9 out of the 11 designated communities under the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) have launched their programs.
When asked about what the government was planning to do to help caregivers who have fallen short of the 24-months of work experience they need to be eligible for PR because they were recently laid off, Mendicino said that IRCC was considering broader solutions.
IRCC does not yet have more information to share on the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP).
IRCC is working with the province of Quebec to create PR pathways for asylum seekers who are currently working in Quebec nursing homes. Mendicino said that it was important to recognize the contributions of such individuals who are making sacrifices and risking their health to help seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several of the questions posed to Mendicino and Tapley focused on how Canada would help international students arrive to the country in time for the fall 2020 semester.
Mendicino explained that IRCC was seeking solutions on ensuring that students are able to submit their biometrics. He noted that IRCC had already provided flexibility to some temporary foreign workers who are unable to submit their biometrics overseas.
Tapley noted that some visa application centres (VAC) have already re-opened which will enable students to give their biometrics. She also said that IRCC is considering a number of options to help students submit biometrics if their local VAC is still closed.
In the meantime, Tapley pointed to the reform IRCC announced in May that enables online learning to count towards the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) eligibility of students unable to come to Canada in 2020.
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