Immigration applications for Canada have been granted a three-month extension to a program that eliminates the requirement for additional medical checks if they pose a low danger to Canadian health. This policy was first announced in June 2021, was slated to terminate on Tuesday, December 28, 2021.
Now, this has been extended until March 31, 2022.
“These measures will help streamline application processing for low-risk, in-Canada applicants, while effectively managing public health risks,” stated Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
“They will also help provide better client service, support faster application timelines, and ensure foreign nationals can more quickly receive permanent resident status. This will help them, in turn, more quickly contribute fully to the Canadian economy and the communities in which they live.”
Applicants must still produce an immigration medical exam or a unique medical identifying number from their prior medical exam when applying for permanent residency or a permanent resident visa. Those who are not qualified for the exemption will be contacted by IRCC to discuss future measures.
As Canada appeared to have reached the level of Covid-19 immunization required for the immigration process last summer, the requirement for the supplementary medical check generally required for the process was lifted. Several considerations were essential for herd immunity.
However, the Omicron variety has evolved since then, infecting even people who have had two doses of the Covid-19 vaccines and making many of them unwell enough to require hospitalization. The immunizations continue to protect those who have been immunized against the more serious complications of Covid-19.
Health experts are now urging Canadians to get booster shots for the immunizations, and efforts to vaccinate children as early as five years old have begun in several provinces.
“With (the) highly transmissible Delta variant predominating and Omicron looming, we must maximize layers of protection: full series of Covid-19 vaccines PLUS booster doses as recommended PLUS (ensuring face masks are washed and fit well and there is good ventilation),” tweeted Dr Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief medical officer, shortly before the holiday season.
According to Canada’s Covid-19 vaccination information website, as of December 30, 2021, 87.25 per cent of Canadians aged 12 and over were completely vaccinated, and 1.29 per cent of children aged five to 11 were fully vaccinated.
And over a third of Canadian children aged five to eleven years old, 39.51 per cent, had got jabbed with at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine at the time, and 90.01 per cent of those aged 12 and older had also had at least one dose of these vaccines.
By December 30, more than three-quarters of the Canadian population, or 76.49 per cent, had received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccines. Given the high level of immunization in Canada, there were still 212,318 Covid-19 cases as the year came to a conclusion, and the country had experienced 30,248 deaths among the more than 2.1 million persons infected with the coronavirus.
As the Omicron variant continues to spread, cases have started to increase in several provinces of the country. In late June 2021, there were only 330 active instances of Covid-19 across the country. The extension of the exemption to a medical examination for immigrant applicants only applies to foreign nationals who are currently in Canada and who:
- have submitted a new application for permanent residence or for a permanent resident visa or have a pending application for permanent residence and have not yet completed a new immigration medical exam;
- have completed an immigration medical exam within the last five years and were found to pose no risk to public health or safety, or complied with a requirement to report to public health authorities for monitoring, and;
- have not left Canada for more than six months in the last year to live in a country that has a higher incidence of a serious communicable disease than Canada, as outlined in the list of countries requiring an immigration medical exam.
If the specified criteria by IRCC is met by Family members of foreign nationals applying for immigration, then they may also be excused from the supplementary medical exam. Statistics Canada, the country’s statistical analysis department, reported in early July that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Canada’s population continued to expand, although at a slightly slower pace.
In the fiscal year that ended July 1, 2021, immigration accounted for 74.9 per cent of Canada’s population growth, and the country remains optimistic about boosting immigration even higher in the future year.
Near the end of December, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser revealed that Canada had met its objective of 4,01,000 new permanent residents for the year, breaking a record established 108 years before in 1913.
“Last year, we set an ambitious goal,” said Fraser a week before the end of the year. “Today, we achieved it. This is a historic moment for our country, as we welcome the highest number of newcomers in one year in our history.”