Federal Government Loses Legal Battle over 900 Cases in Application Backlog

A lawsuit by 900 individuals who sued the federal government for the delay in the processing of their application for permanent residence in Canada succeeded today, as a federal court ruled in their favour. The ruling puts into question the entire wipe-out of the 280,000 Federal Skilled Worker Program backlog.

The federal government’s efforts to wipe out the 280,000 Federal Skilled Worker Program application backlog through legislation had a major setback today, as a court ruled that the government must process the applications of 900 people who sued the federal government for the delay in the processing of their application, and whose applications were among the 280,000 closed as part of the wipe-out.

The presiding judge, Justice Donald Rennie, wrote in his decision that the federal government has the legal right to refuse to process an application, but that once it has begun processing an application, it is obligated to finalize the processing in a timely manner. This opens the door for the remaining 280,000 individuals affected by the legislated wipeout of their application to sue to have their application re-opened and processed.

Justice Rennie also rejected the federal government’s request for appeal, and ordered that the federal government finalize the application of the lead litigant, an IT project manager in China, by October 14th.



  • good decision

  • Is this decision applicable to all the applicants i.e., 2,80,000 OR only to those applicants who have sued in the court of law?

    • It is only applicable to those who have sued in court, and furthermore, the government is arguing that since June 29th, when the legislation to wipeout the 280,000 applications in the backlog was passed, the court order no longer applies to the 670 litigants (out of 835 who sued) whose applications were filed before February 27th 2008.

  • After this court decision, if other applicants file their case in court what will happen to them?

    • If the group wins the case then legal precedent could be created that would allow others to sue to have their cases processed as well, but a legal victory for the applicants at this point has become very unlikely now that the legislation has passed.

      The group’s lawyer is now asking the court to order CIC to process their applications under ‘humanitarian and compassionate’ grounds, which is much less likely to create legal precedent that other applicants could use.

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