Focus on the Family: The Future of Canadian Immigration under Justin Trudeau

On October 19, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party was propelled to victory by a Canadian electorate that had rallied around his promise of bringing real change to Ottawa.

While Trudeau proposed a new approach to many issues throughout the course of the marathon 11-week campaign, political debate always seemed to return to the critical issues of citizenship and immigration. From the Syrian refugee crisis to Bill C-51 to the niqab, voters were asked to choose the party that best described who should be Canadian and how to become Canadian. At the end of the day, Justin Trudeau’s perspective of compassion and equal opportunity resonated the most with voters, and Canadians can hope to see this vision reflected in the future of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

So, what kind of changes are we likely to see in Canadian immigration procedure? While the Liberal Party has detailed a number of key modifications to the Canadian immigration process, the essence of these changes is an intensified focus on the family. According to Liberal and NDP critics, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper prioritized economic immigration over familial immigration, stifling the opportunity and cohesion of the middle class while catering to the wealthy 1%. The Liberal plan for citizenship and immigration is designed to address this perception by making it easier for families and people with relational ties to immigrate to Canada.

At this point, the Liberal Party has proposed five immediate changes to Canadian immigration that will help relatives and families come to Canada.

  1. The budget for family class immigration processing will be doubled. The Liberal Party hopes that this change will dramatically reduce the processing times for individuals applying through family sponsorship. Depending on the case, processing can take well over 100 months.
  2. New applications for parents and grandparents will be doubled. Currently, 5,000 new applications for parents and grandparents are allowed each year, and the Liberal Party has promised to raise the number of accepted applications to 10,000 per year.
  3. Applicants with Canadian siblings will be granted additional points under the Express Entry program. The new Liberal government will also conduct an extensive review of the program to ensure that processing times are efficient.
  4. The maximum age for dependents will be raised to from 19 to 22. This change is focused on helping Canadians who are live-in caregivers bring their children to Canada.
  5. New spouses entering Canada will be granted immediate permanent residency. Under the Conservative government, new spouses were granted a two-year conditional status.

The Liberal Party argues that family reunification must be the foundation of immigration to Canada because when families can stay together, it is much easier for them to integrate and contribute to their communities. Under Justin Trudeau’s new government, we can expect key changes to the immigration process that help families and relatives come to Canada. While we have yet to see any of the changes and modifications put into practice, it is evident that the new Canadian government has considered and constructed a concrete plan designed to reorient Canadian immigration towards a focus on the family.

With Justin Trudeau set to announce his new cabinet on Wednesday, November 4, the Liberals plan for immigration reform is front and center. Click here to find which MP may be tapped to serve as Canada’s next Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

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