The military is making major change to its recruitment policy.
Last week, the Canadian military created an Instagram post announcing that permanent residents will soon be eligible to join the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The post came a week before Remembrance Day, which is today.
Every November 11, Canadians come together to remember the contributions and sacrifices made by members of the armed forces. The tradition began at the end of World War I in 1918 and marks the time the war officially ended, at 11 a.m.
Canadians often attend ceremonies at local cenotaphs to commemorate and remember those they served. Others just take two minutes at 11 a.m. to stop what they are doing and reflect in silence.
CAF seeks more troops
The Department of National Defense (DND) is expected to make a formal announcement in the coming days regarding the policy change. Until now, permanent residents could not enter the CAF due to issues related to security clearances. However, the CAF faces an urgent shortage of recruits.
CIC News emailed DND for more information on the change, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Why are permanent residents now allowed to join the military?
The news comes as a major change in hiring policy. In March, Defense Minister Anita Anand said Canada’s military needs to grow, particularly given the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, at the end of April this year, CAF said it was not yet ready to waive the citizenship requirement.
At the same time, the Toronto Star reported that Canada is short about 12,000 regular force soldiers from its “total strength” of 100,000 regular force members.
Canada expects 500,000 new permanent residents by 2025
The change comes as Canada has released the Immigration Levels Plan for 2023-2025. The plan targets 500,000 new permanent residents in Canada per year by the end of 2025. This can dramatically expand the pool of candidates the military has to choose from.
According to the 2021 census, nearly a quarter of Canadians are or have been landed immigrants or permanent residents. Immigrants are also prime candidates for the military, as they typically arrive in Canada during their early working years, where they are likely to be most physically active.
Opening up the draft to permanent residents will also change the demographic makeup of the military, which currently has less than 12% visible minorities and 16% women. The remaining three quarters are white men.
Qualified Military Foreign Applicant Program
Currently, the only way for permanent residents to join the military is through the Qualified Military Alien Applicant (SMFA) program. The program is designed for people with a unique skill set that would lower the cost of training or fill a special need within the CAF, such as a trained pilot or medic.
The program does not expedite the process of applying for permanent residence. Candidates through the program receive a citizenship waiver from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that allows them to join the military. Since the program began, only 15 applicants have obtained permanent residence through this pathway.
At this time, candidates must be citizens of Canada, over the age of 18 (or 16, provided they have parental consent), and have a grade 10 or grade 12 education depending on whether they plan to enlist as an officer. This will also apply to permanent residents.
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