The new federal budget for 2021 was released on April 19.

Ambitiously named “Budget 2021: A Recovery Plan for Jobs,

Growth, and Resilience”, the plan clearly sets its sights on

post COVID-19 economic recovery. As was already signalled by the

Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Canadian Minister of Immigration,

in October of last year when he tabled an ambitious Immigration

plan at Parliament outlining goals for the coming three years, a

substantial part of the federal economic growth strategy relies on

economic immigration. 

For those who like cold hard numbers: Almost $430 million over 5

years will be spent on development and delivery of an

enterprise-wide digital platform that will gradually replace the

legacy Case Management System. This is Canada's delivery on a

promise to revamp the system the Minister himself referred to as

“retro” so that it can position itself as a top

destination for global talent. Service Canada is to be a recipient

of nearly $50 million over 3 years in support of community-based

organizations in the provision of migrant worker-centric programs

and services (i.e., on-arrival orientation and assistance in

emergency and at-risk situations). IRCC will receive $55 million

over 3 years for employer audits, ensuring that temporary foreign

workers have appropriate wages and working conditions. Another $6

million will go to open work permit service delivery for vulnerable

workers; $15 million to support pilot programs for racialized

newcomer women and finally – welcome news to all who have had

to make this phone call – $74 million over 3 years to maintain

enhanced capacity and service standards within the Client Support

Center to ensure timely support by phone and email for inquiries

related to IRCC services.

In addition to this, we can expect proposed changes to the

governing Immigration legislation, the Immigration and Refugee

Protection Act, which will aim to improve IRCC's ability

to identify candidates who meet Canada's labour market needs

and wish to become permanent residents through the Express Entry

system.

What these investments aim to do is rectify some of the damage

inflicted by COVID-19. Immigration creates jobs and continues to be

a key factor in Canada's economic growth. However, the pandemic

has had a negative effect both on the economy, and the personal

circumstances of newcomers, particularly low wage workers, young

people, women, and racialized immigrants. The 2021 budget seems

aimed at the right points. On one hand, Canada is positioning

itself as the most desirable destination for immigration by

creating a modern and efficient immigration process. In many ways

however, that is the easiest part of the strategy. Ensuring that

the newcomers have the right circumstances in place to achieve

their best potential once they are here, is a much more challenging

objective. The current plan seems to be making moves in the right

direction on all counts.

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