Federal Government Has Sufficient Staff to Process Economic Immigrant Applications

Federal Government Has Sufficient Staff to Process Economic Immigrant Applications

The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), Yves Giroux, recently released a new report stating that the federal government has sufficient staff to process applications for economic immigrants in a timely manner.

“In fact, we estimate that IRCC has 65% more staff than needed to meet their goal this fiscal year (2022-2023),” said Yves Giroux, PBO.

The report analyzed the cost of processing applications for economic immigrants through the Federal Express Entry system for five fiscal years. Express Entry includes the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program and Canadian Experience Class. Moreover, the report found that “current staffing levels at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) are expected to be more than sufficient to meet the processing time goal for the next five years.”

The report estimated the gross cost of the programs over the next five years at $792 million. But, this cost “will be offset by $743 million in fee revenue collected from applicants”. Therefore, there will be a net total cost of $48 million.

In addition, the report noted that the excess number of employees will decrease gradually over time but should still be sufficient to meet the service standards set by the department. By 2026-27, the department will have four percent more employees than it needs to process these types of applications.

<<Canada’s immigration department increased its staff, but processing remains slow>>

Canada’s immigration backlog

The federal government aims to process 80% of these applications within six months. However, last year, Canada was grappling with significant immigration backlogs caused by the pandemic. The government announced a hiring blitz to address the backlogs and faced mounting political pressure over delays.

In the context of these backlogs, PBO’s report examined whether the issue was one of resourcing from an HR perspective. Unfortunately, the department refused to share information about resources that would have been needed to meet processing goals in previous years, citing cabinet confidences.

Giroux called the department’s refusal “frustrating”. “(Just) because you put something in a memorandum to cabinet doesn’t necessarily make it a secret, if it is otherwise available in public,” he said.

The report’s findings suggest that the federal government has adequate staff to process applications for economic immigrants, which should help reduce backlogs and alleviate pressure on the government. However, the department’s refusal to share information raises questions about transparency.

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    Andrea Neira