Express immigration programs overstaffed: budget watchdog
Three programs designed to get skilled immigrants settled in Canada faster have more staff than needed to meet the government's goals, according to a report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer released Tuesday.
The report looked at three "express entry" programs — the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class and the Federal Skilled Trades Program — and the government's target of processing 80 per cent of applications to the programs within six months. Quebec does not participate in the three programs.
"Based on our analysis, current staffing levels at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) are expected to be more than sufficient to meet the processing time goal for the next five years," Yves Giroux, the parliamentary budget officer, said in a news release.
"In fact, we estimate that IRCC has 65 per cent more staff than needed to meet their goal this fiscal year."
The report said the department needs about 343 full-time equivalent staff this year to meet its processing target and has 224 excess staff.
But the report adds that the staff surplus will decline to 23 by 2026-27 as the number of applicants to the programs increases.
The government aims to approve 82,880 through the three programs in 2023, with the number increasing to 114,000 in 2025.
The report estimated the gross cost of the programs over the next five years at $792 million but said applicant fees would cover $743 million of that total. The cost to the government this year per admitted permanent resident is an estimated $91.
As of June 2022, IRCC is facing a backlog of 2.4 million immigration applications. Sean Fraser, the federal minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, said last year that his department would hire thousands of new workers to address the issue.
The federal government is hoping to welcome 1.45 million new permanent residents to Canada over the next three years, including 500,000 in 2025. Ottawa is hoping the boosted immigration targets will help to address labour shortages. A record-breaking 431,645 people became permanent residents last year.