Why is it that when I read an official CIC document, it always feels like a Harper campaign press release? This is true of the CIC backgroudner, "Backgrounder — What is CIC doing to reduce citizenship processing times?" Just look at the info-graphic below:
See the use of "Economic Action Plan" - that's Harper campaign-speak. Now, the Tories have been in power since 2006. That's 8 years as either leading a minority or having a majority government in place. And now - now that an election cycle approaches - now they are going to do something about citizenship wait times (which the same infographic explains are currently almost three-years).
So what are they finally doing?
- Throwing money at it - $44 million in 2013
- Streamlining processing - now a Citizenship Officer will be the sole handler of an application. Judges will only come into play if there are complications or disputes on a file.
- Increasing fees - the old, "make it more expensive and less people will use it" school of government service. Harper is great at this. Fees for application will increase from $100 to $300.
- Actually defining a "complete application" - believe it or not, what has constituted a complete application has been a little fuzzy over the years. This is a positive change.
- Giving judges discretionary grant power - this power to grant citizenship in exceptional circumstances was previously held at the officer level. Now, judges will control this aspect of citizenship.
- Dealing with abandonment - there are lots of dead files out there; applicants who aren't responsive to requests for information or interviews. This change would allow those non-responsive applicants to be flushed from the backlog. Another positive step.
So all in all, not a bad pass at improving citizenship wait times. Now we'll wait to see how they follow through.