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Canada's Changing Migration, Refugee and Asylum Policies: 2015 Onwards | Northern America |

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Canada's Changing Migration, Refugee and Asylum Policies: 2015 Onwards

Shaina Somers

/ 10 Minuten zu lesen

Since 2015, Justin Trudeau's Liberal government has been bringing changes to Canada's migration, refugee and asylum policy. What do these changes mean four years (and an upcoming election) later?

A television interview with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plays on a screen as people wait to welcome Syrian refugees Mohammad Kurdi and his family at Vancouver International Airport. (© picture-alliance/AP, AP Photo/Canadian Press)

After nearly ten years in office, the era of Stephen Harper Conservatism came to an end in 2015 when the Liberal Party was elected with a majority in Parliament. Under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, the son of the late Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Liberal Party campaigned heavily upon the promise of a more liberal approach to immigration policy. The photo of Alan Kurdi's lifeless body on a Turkish beach caused much debate during the election. The family had in vain tried to escape the conflict in Syria by seeking asylum in Canada and joining family members already settled there before crossing the Aegean Sea – a voyage that would cost the lives of two-year-old Alan, his five-year-old brother, and his mother. The Externer Link: Canadian connection of the Alan Kurdi photo made immigration a key voting issue for much of the electorate. Trudeau’s government initially seemed to do good on the promises made during their campaign by bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of December 2015, just two months after winning the federal election.

The Liberal Party government seemed committed to doing politics differently than its predecessor. One of the first changes was the renaming of the department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) highlighting the new government’s commitment to refugees as part of its mandate. In 2017, Ahmed Hussen was appointed by Trudeau to be the new Minister of the IRCC. Under Hussen, IRCC began creating multiyear levels plans for immigration, a shift from the one year plans policy left over from the Conservative government. The most recent 2019-2021 immigration plan aims to stimulate the growth of the Economic Immigrant Class, and therefore presents a shift away from the refugee focused policy that was a strong element of Trudeau’s campaign in 2015. Throughout the four years the Trudeau government has been in office, there have been changes to every aspect of immigration pathways and policies.

2019-2021 Immigration Levels Plan

Projected Admissions –
Projected Admissions –
Low High Low High Low High
Federal Economic Provincial/
Territorial Nominees
Skilled Workers and Business
To be determinedTo be determinedTo be determinedTo be determinedTo be determinedTo be determined
Family reunification83.00098.00084.000102.00084.000102.000
Refugees, Protected Persons,
Humanitarian and Other
Total 310.000 350.000 310.000 360.000 320.000 370.000

Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (2018): 2018 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, S. 12. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (2018): 2018 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, p. 12. Available online: Externer Link: (accessed: 8-21-2019).

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Shaina Somers has an MA in Immigration and Settlement Studies from Ryerson University, Canada and was a visiting research student at the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies of the University of Osnabrueck, Germany.