Canada

Immigration levels holding steady: Kenney

Canada's overall immigration levels aren't changing, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney talks about Canadian immigration levels and barring veiled voters 11:19

Canada's overall immigration levels aren't changing, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says.

Numbers released under federal Access to Information laws — which show drastic cuts to two classes of immigrants — are just for planning, Kenny said Thursday.

"Overall, our target is consistent," Kenney told a House of Commons committee. "Our operational range is 240,000 to 265,000. It's consistent with what we've been planning for the past six or seven years."

Kenney says only minor trade-offs have been made between categories of immigrants.

Numbers released to CBC News, however, show a 20 per cent cut in the skilled worker category and 25 per cent cut for parents and grandparents who want to be reunited with children in Canada.

Liberal MP Rob Oliphant says Kenney is deliberately concealing what his department is planning. He says he suspects the cuts are politically motivated.

"Absolutely he was misleading us, and if you're going to be misleading us in that way, that goes to the credibility of all the numbers then," Oliphant said.

Leaves operations to bureaucrats

'Frankly, I don't see the operational targets,' Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says.
"That sharp turn to the right may not be coming from him. It may be a directive above him. They want to shore up their base, which is nervous about some of these issues. So I suspect that we've got a problem for their base."

Kenney distanced himself from his department's figures, saying he sees the planning range and then leaves the operational side to the bureaucrats.

"Frankly, I don't see the operational targets," he said.

"I learned what some of the operational targets are this week. When I raise it with the department they say, 'no … we expect more to come in. If we have a target that's higher than that, we have a risk of overshooting.'"

NDP MP Libby Davies says the new target for parents and grandparents means some families will have to wait as long as 13 years for the government to decide whether their loved ones can come to Canada.

"Now, that's clearly unacceptable in terms of wait times," Davies told Kenney in the committee meeting.

"Your government has said repeatedly that the backlog is going to be cleaned up, that we won't have these incredible wait times. And yet … we're faced with dramatically different information."

Kenney says the plan is partly based on polls that show 77 per cent of Canadians say immigration levels should hold steady or be cut.

"One has to make choices," he said. "The easy thing to do is sit on the sidelines and say this one should be higher, that one .… And what you end up with is an immigration level which is unsustainable."