The Canadian government has just tabled its first Budget since 2019.
This major announcement usually takes place in the first quarter of each year, however it did not take place last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Canadian federal budget receives a lot of attention domestically since it contains the policy priorities the government will pursue, the government’s spending and revenue projections, as well as an overview of the state of the Canadian economy.
Today’s Budget is of added importance for several reasons. It is the first in two years due to the unprecedented times we are living in. Moreover, the ruling Liberal party has a minority government, and is rumored to be considering calling an early election in 2021, which means it may need to rely on the Budget to convince Canadians to give them a majority.
Sometimes, the Budget contains major Canadian immigration policy announcements.
For example, Budget 2014 proposed terminating the popular federal Immigrant Investor Program and Entrepreneur Program. That same Budget outlined that the federal government would invest millions of dollars to ensure that Express Entry would successfully launch in January 2015.
Here are the immigration priorities outlined in Budget 2021. It is important to note that these are proposals and the Budget needs to win the approval of the majority of Parliament for the Liberals to go ahead and pursue these priorities. It is likely that Parliament will pass this Budget since defeating it would trigger an election— an outcome that Canada’s federal parties likely do not want while the country continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Nearly $430 million to modernize IT infrastructure
Perhaps the most important immigration proposal in the Budget is a nearly $430 million investment the federal government would like to make to modernize its information technology (IT) infrastructure. The Budget calls for the investment to replace the Global Case Management System (GCMS), which is used to manage immigration applications. The purpose of the investment, according to the Budget, includes allowing the federal government to respond to higher levels of foreign national arrivals in the future, better security, and improved application processing.
Reforms to Express Entry
The Budget notes that the federal government has an eye towards reforming Express Entry. The government would like to give the immigration minister more authority to “select those candidates who best meet Canada’s labour market needs.” What these changes may entail are not specified in the Budget.
Express Entry is the main way that Canada selects economic class immigrants. It accounts for about one-quarter of all the immigrants Canada welcomes each year.
Enhancements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
The Budget calls for some $110 million in additional spending over the next three years on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The spending will go towards providing information and support to vulnerable foreign workers, increased inspections of employers to ensure they are treating foreign workers well, and improving service delivery to vulnerable workers so they can obtain open work permits if they have been abused by their previous employers in Canada.
Supporting Racialized Newcomer Women
Newcomer women sometimes face barriers to employment in Canada due to factors such as developing English or French skills, lack of Canadian experience, lack of affordable child care, and discrimination. The Budget proposes an additional $15 million in spending over the next two years to build on existing initiatives aimed at helping to improve the employment outcomes and career advancement of newcomer women.
Accelerated Pathways to Permanent Residence
Budget 2021 references the new immigration programs launched by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) last week to provide accelerated permanent residence pathways to essential workers and international graduates this year. Some 90,000 individuals living in Canada will be able to begin to apply for permanent residence beginning on May 6.
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