Canada is a welcoming country. Our immigration system is famous for accepting those who, in turn, help our nation. New Canadians bring with them a wide variety of backgrounds that is beneficial to our economy, culture and standing on the world stage.
Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government has taken decisive action on Canada’s immigration system since we were first elected in 2006. We’ve been able to strengthen our country’s reputation as one that opens its doors to those who work hard, play by the rules, and contribute to our society. We’ve also worked hard to preserve our immigration system by cracking down on those who seek to take advantage of our open and fair nature.
Canadians only have to look at the actions of the previous Liberal government to realize the headway our Conservative Government has made. Under our Government, immigration is higher. On average, we’ve welcomed 254,000 new immigrants per year, while the previous Liberal government accepted only 222,500 annually.
Immigration levels increased by 7 per cent during the first five years our Government took office. During the first five years of the previous Liberal government, immigration levels dropped 32 per cent.
What’s more, the previous Liberal government created a backlog of approximately 830,000 individuals, looking to start a new life in our great country. They also slashed the citizenship and immigration budget.
Our Conservative Government took office and saw that action had to be taken. We welcomed 14 per cent more immigrants per year, on average, than the previous Liberal government. We cut the Right of Landing Fee in half — saving $300 million since 2006. We tripled funding for immigration settlement services from $1,000 per immigrant, to $3,000. We drastically reduced processing times for skilled worker applications from 5 years, to less than 1 year. And, we took action for foreign credential recognition, working to make it easier for skilled workers to have their education and previous work experiences recognized by Canadian standards.
While this is all good news for Canadians and our country’s economy, we must also focus our attention on those who seek to take advantage of our generosity. Our Government is committed to maintaining the integrity of our immigration system, which is why we are deeply concerned that there are individuals who have been defrauding our immigration system.
Our Government took action to protect the integrity of Canadian citizenship by revoking approximately 1800 citizenships from individuals who did not choose Canada as home, but merely as a pit-stop of convenience. Just like those who choose to come to our country by way of illegal human smuggling operations, these individuals cost taxpayers a lot of money (eg. health care, consular services) and undermine the integrity of our immigration system. In addition, our Government cracked down on crooked immigration consultants, who seek to take advantage of vulnerable new immigrants.
Ultimately, Canadians gave our Conservative Government a strong mandate to stay focused on what matters – job creation and economic growth. As we continue to recover from the recession, immigration will help ensure employers have the workers they need for our continued and long-term economic success. Meanwhile, we will continue to send a global message that Canada will not accept fraud on our land or in our waters. The abuse of our generosity is unacceptable, and our Government is taking the right action to stop it.