question period — Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees

Immigration Processing Backlog

February 16, 2021


Honourable senators, thousands of families are separated due to the growing backlog in our immigration system, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. The issue is pressing, affecting these families’ relationships, mental health and their perception of Canada.

Last July in the other place, Minister Mendicino stated that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is working diligently to find innovative ways to ensure that as many families as possible are reunited. Last month during an interview, Minister Mendicino stated that IRCC has been innovating during the pandemic.

Senator Gold, many Canadians have reached out to me and would like to know the exact nature of these innovative ways to reunite families. Additionally, what resources have been allocated to deploy such innovative solutions?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate)

Thank you for your question, senator. I could well imagine the frustration of families who haven’t been able to benefit from the programs, and this government knows how important it is to so many people.

Although a maximum of 10,000 applications were opened in 2020, in 2021 we will open up a new initiative, a new intake, to accept a total of 30,000 new applications.

The government is committed to increasing the number of officials that are working on applications and otherwise doing everything it can to make the process facilitative to those who seek to come to Canada.


Senator Gold, last fall, the IRCC had planned to adjudicate 6,000 spousal applications each month between October and December 2020, yet thousands of families are still waiting to be reunited. Senator Gold, what is the current timeline to reunite these families who have been waiting months and, in most cases, years?

Senator Gold

Thank you for your question. I cannot answer with a specific timeline. I will certainly make inquiries and report back to the chamber.