Credits: REUTERS/CHRIS WATTIE
OTTAWA — Immigration Minister Jason Kenney explained a 73% drop in the number of permanent residents receiving Canadian citizenship between 2005 and 2012 by saying the government’s “fiscal restraint” was leading to fewer people having to process more applications.
Internal Citizenship and Immigration documents obtained by QMI Agency show only 2.9% of permanent residents who were eligible for citizenship in 2012 received it, down significantly from 76% in 2005.
“There are two reasons for that,” Kenney said. “Increased immigration levels above those under the previous government and an environment of fiscal restraint (means we have) less resources to process more permanent residents coming up for a limited number of spots.”
Kenney also said processing times had increased since 2005, but “only by about three months”.
Though he has been criticized for his policies, accused of making Canada less accessible to the weakest, Kenney said the government’s objectives in immigration are cracking down on fraud and crime while making it easier for skilled immigrants and students who have the greatest likelihood of contributing to society once they’re here.
“We put a greater emphasis on protecting the integrety of our immigration program,” he said. “There have been too many cases of fraudulent applications organized by crooked immigration agents.”
He added the government has an action plan to reduce processing times and streamline applications deemed desirable.
Kenney spoke to reporters upon arrival back in Canada after visiting Sri Lanka, several states in India as well as Turkey to discuss human smuggling, immigration fraud and refugees.