Responsibility for immigration in the federal government has resided in several different departments since Confederation.


Issue: Understanding the management of diversity in society through the legislative history and public policy framework.


The (Re)Organization and Responsibility Timeline:



  • 1868 to 1892, Canadian immigration services were the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture.


  • 1892 to 1917, these services were transferred to the Department of Interior, and became known as the Immigration Branch of that Department.


  • 1917 to 1936, an independent Department of Immigration and Colonization was established, which took over the work previously undertaken by the Department of the Interior.


  • 1936 to 1950, Immigration was reduced to Branch status again, however, under the newly-formed Department of Mines and Resources.


  • 1950 to 1966, with the creation of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration the commission was given the responsibility for such disparate programs as Immigration, Indian Affairs, Citizenship Registration, and a number of federal cultural agencies. At that time, Immigration services remained at the Branch level.


  • 1966 to 1977, the growing relationship between employment and immigration policy was formally recognized with the creation of the Department of Manpower and Immigration. At that time the Immigration Branch was moved from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to the newly-formed Department, and retained Branch status.


  • 1977 to 1992, with the creation of the Canada Employment and Immigration Commission and Department. Federal government immigration, employment, and unemployment insurance programs were united under these institutions, known collectively as Employment and Immigration Canada (EIC). At that time, EIC was responsible for immigration matters including the admission to Canada of visitors, permanent residents and refugees. It also assisted permanent residents and refugees to settle in Canada.


  • 1992 to Present, The most recent change with respect to immigration functions occurred in 1992-93 with the creation of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, ratified under the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act of 1994 (42-43 Elizabeth II, C. 31). This new Department is currently responsible for the federal government's immigration program.



Current Events:


n      28 June 2002 The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act comes into effect. It emphasizes the importance of immigration to improving Canadian society and economy and creating a culturally diverse nation. The Act also states the governments commitment to reuniting families in Canada, integrating immigrants, and protecting the health and safety of all Canadians. The refugee program plans to fulfill Canadas international legal obligations and give fair consideration to all people being persecuted. The Act guarantees the policies will be consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It also states that intergovernmental co-operation will be important, as will be greater public awareness of policies.


n      12 December 2003 The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is created. It is part of a broader package of programs designed to deal with the security concerns raised by the 11 September attack on the World Trade Center. The CBSAs mandate is to facilitate the legal movement of goods and people across Canadas borders while stopping illegal or threatening shipments.


n      31 December 2003 Introduction of the Permanent Resident Card. The card is required for permanent residents leaving and re-entering Canada. It is designed to increase border security.