On August 29, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser joined other task force members to update Canadians and newcomers on what the government is doing to address the backlog and improve the immigration system.
Fraser is an ex-officio member of the task force created in June to reduce wait times for immigration documents and passports. At a press conference, the task force discussed developments over recent months, as well as the underlying pandemic-related reasons for the significant surges in demand for travel and for other government services. The task force has been meeting regularly throughout the summer to identify priority areas for action, and outline short- and longer-term solutions.
At a news conference in Ottawa, federal ministers provide an update on efforts to reduce wait times for government services, including the processing of passport and immigration applications. In June 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the creation of a task force of ministers aimed at addressing backlogs in the delivery of those services.
Fraser highlighted how Canada is working to improve services at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) by:
“Families, communities, and businesses deserve an immigration system that works for everyone,” Fraser said in a government media release. “Through targeted investments, hiring 1,250 employees to address the backlog, and the improvement of our online systems and processes, we will deliver on our promise to Canadians. We will reduce wait times and work hard to attract and retain skilled workers, as we continue to help communities across the country access the talent they need.”
Canada is a top destination for people around the 🌎
We’ve been taking concrete steps to strengthen our immigration system and reduce the backlog, to help address our labour shortage and reunite families ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/uVimuO7fWw
— Sean Fraser (@SeanFraserMP) August 29, 2022
The release said IRCC manages over 1 million applications from its inventories at any given time, and in 2021, IRCC finalized 1.7 million applications across all lines of business. The IRCC webpage that is currently tracking the backlog reports there are 2.4 million applications waiting in all IRCC inventories, down from 2.7 million in July. Of those currently in the IRCC inventory, 1.1 million are within service standards, while 1.3 million are in the backlog.
Also at the conference, Canada’s minister of families, Karina Gould, spoke about how Canada is improving passport processing. Namely, by increasing the Service Canada workforce; expanding simplified renewals of passports to adults who have had a passport issued in the last 15 years; implementing a new triage system to help manage lineups; expanding passport-pick up service to nine more Service Canada Centres; and expanding passport services to 24 rural and remote sites in Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada.
Travel Minister Omar Alghabra said Canada is working to reduce traveller wait times and airport congestion by hiring more staff; collaborating with airlines, airports, and related government departments including Canadian Border Services Agency to address bottlenecks; adding more eGates and primary inspection kiosks at Toronto Pearson International Airport; allowing screening officers to work while training to get more officers on the ground at airports; tripling the number of Transportation Security Clearances issued over the last year to quickly on-board new employees; improving pre-board security screening wait times across the country; and reducing the number of aircraft being held on the tarmac at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
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