The Canadian Federal Election in October

Immigration can be a contentious issue. The coming election will determine Canada’s governing party for the next four years which could bring changes to Canada’s current immigration policies. Two main parties dominate the Canadian political landscape, the Liberal Party of Canada and the Conservative Party of Canada. These parties are interested in economic immigration, but approach the issue in different ways.

What if the Liberals win?

If the Liberals remain in power, the new multi-year immigration plan, which was introduced at the end of 2018, would continue processing applicants. In this plan, Canada expects to receive more than one million permanent residents by the end of 2021, approximately accounting for one per cent of its population.

The Liberals introduced significant amendments since taking power in late 2015. The processing time for spousal and common-law partnership applications has been reduced. A new spouse entering Canada can get permanent residency in less than 24 months. More Canadians can bring their children to Canada due to the restored maximum age for dependents from 19 to 22. The number of applications for parents and grandparents has been doubled to 10,000 each year.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Liberals’ new federal programs –Atlantic Immigration Pilot, and Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot – were introduced to attract more skilled workers throughout the country. Express Entry, which is currently the fastest and most effective route to get Canadian permanent resident status, was launched on January 1, 2015 by the Conservatives to reduce the application processing time. The Liberals have made important changes to Express Entry. Applicants who have Canadian siblings get additional points. Canadian Ranking System (CRS) score awarded to a job offer with a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) was reduced from 600 points to a maximum of 200. International students have more opportunities after studying in Canada by getting bonus points for Canadian education and working experience if they apply for permanent residency status through Express Entry. More of such benefits can be expected if the Liberals get a majority of seats in the upcoming election.

What if the Conservatives win?

According to CBC’s Poll Tracker updated on August 26, 2019, the Conservative Party is leading over the Liberal Party. Under the current government, the number of skilled immigrants has increased each year to address Canada’s aging working population through a multi-year immigration plan to welcome more than one million newcomers between 2019 – 2021. The Conservatives have not mentioned any changes to the current target or the ranking system of Express Entry. However, if they win in October, possible changes will be made to target a “fair, orderly and compassionate” immigration system, which would “link the number and skills of people seeking to enter Canada for economic reasons to the needs of the Canadian economy,” said Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel in Calgary Nose-Hill on May 7, 2019.

Other Parties

The New Democratic Party (NDP), is best known for introducing health care for all Canadians. Although the party has never formed a majority government, it could contribute to the shaping of immigration policy due to its power in a minority government. The party’s views focus on issues of family reunification and compassion.

Although the Green Party holds only two seats in Parliament, it may be a surprise contender in October. It believes that new Canadians are an incredible source of skills and prospects for Canada. With an ideology that Canada is “a just, fair and open country,” the realistic criteria for immigrants based on existing job opportunities will be established.

Although Canada’s main political parties seem to be in favour of economic immigration, each party approaches the issue in a different way. Whichever party wins, the current immigration policy will likely change. By how much? That is the big question. To maximize chances to obtain permanent residency status, candidates who are eligible under the current system should act quickly.

Mandeep Kaur

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