Foreign service strikes impacts on immigrant applications

Chris Alexander

By Gerald V. Paul

Newly minted Citizenship and Immigration Minister Christopher Alexander told The Camera recently in Scarborough, that one of the reasons for the delay in the approval of immigrant’s application to enter Canada is fraud. So, the department is cautious in the processing of the applications.

Minister Alexander said however, his department is working on family reunification and to reduce the backlog of family members, humanitarian and refugee cases.

But given the current strike by foreign service workers, there are even more delays in processing applications.

Visas for newcomers are down, while temporary visas for tourists and students are up, resulting in a short fall on the federal annual immigration target of 260,000.

However, the number of immigrant visas granted from May to July of this year has dropped 7.5 per cent, to 60, 416 individuals.

That compares to 65,255 in the same period last year and a whopping 22 per cent drop from the same three-month period in 2010.

The Professional Association of Foreign Services Officers (PAFSO) is concerned that the dispute which centres on Ottawa’s refusal to close the wage gap between foreign affairs workers and their counterparts in similar types of work, could compromise the integrity and security of Canada’s immigration system because the substitute staff do not have the same expertise.

But according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, they are providing training on an urgent basis so that more staff can process applications and is requesting staff work overtime where possible.

There is still no resolution in sight as the action enters its sixth month.