Canada cuts refugee targets for 2010

Posted by admin on Nov 2nd, 2009

By Norma Greenaway, Canwest News Service, November 2, 2009

OTTAWA — Canada expects to accept fewer refugees and family class immigrants in the coming year than this year, new government figures show. The 2010 numbers, outlined in Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s annual report to Parliament, show the government’s target for accepting people who apply for asylum after they land in Canada is more than 3,000 less this year. The maximum 2010 target number for spouses, children, parents and grandparents of immigrants is 8,000 fewer than this year’s, the report says. Kenney set the total immigration figure for next year at 240,000 to 265,000, about the same as in recent years.

The figures show the bulk of them, as many as 166,800, will be accepted under the economy class, which includes people willing to start a new business, skilled workers and live-in caregivers.

In interviews Monday, opposition MPs denounced what they say is a trend by the Conservative government to favour immigrants who can afford to move to Canada over family reunification and people who need protection.

“This minister checked his humanity at the door when he walked in the building,” said Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis of Toronto, a member of the Commons immigration committee. “He’s bringing in the people that can afford to get passage to Canada.”

NDP MP Olivia Chow, the party’s immigration critic, said she sees reduced targets for asylum seekers applying within Canada as evidence the government “wants to look tough.”

“Canada is no longer a land of hope and compassion,” she added.

Alykhan Velshi, a spokesman for Kenney, said later in a statement the opposition is over-reacting.

He said the 2010 targets are based on the number of refugees the government expects to accept as “landed” immigrants. Because it takes an estimated 18 months or more to get through the system, he said, the 2010 numbers are based on the claims that have been going through the system since 2007.

The process has been slowed in part because the government has only recently come close to filling all the vacancies on the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Velshi said, however, the government expects the targets for refugee acceptance to increase in 2011 and 2012 because the IRB will soon be fully staffed.

In the meantime, Kenney has said he plans to introduce a major package of refugee reforms before Christmas as part of his campaign to speed the process and crack down on “bogus” refugee claims and “phoney” immigration consultants.

The annual report says Canada expects to accept 9,000 to 12,000 claims in 2010, including their dependents, from people who apply for asylum after arriving in Canada.

The number is less than half the 22,500 to 28,800 refugees and dependents targeted for acceptance in 2006 under the former Liberal government. The targets have dropped steadily since 2006 according to the annual reports to Parliament on immigration levels.

The maximum target for family class immigrants next year was put at 63,000, down from 71,000 this year.

Canada accepted almost 22,000 refugees in 2008. The number includes those sponsored from abroad by the government and private interests, as well as the claimants who sought asylum after arriving in Canada and their dependents.

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