Canada Slashes Local Staff in Indian Missions Due to Reduction in Diplomats

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Canada Slashes Local Staff in Indian Missions Due to Reduction in Diplomats
New Delhi: More than five months after Ottawa withdrew more than two-thirds of its diplomats, the Canadian government has reduced the number of local staff at its missions in India due to a shortage of supervisory personnel to oversee them.

Last October, Canada withdrew 41 diplomats from India after New Delhi demanded “parity” over diplomatic representation as it lashed out at Ottawa’s allegations that Indian agents had been behind the killing of a Canadian national, Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Since then, the high commission in New Delhi and the three consulates in Mumbai, Chandigarh and Bengaluru have been operating with around 21 Canadian diplomats.

In a statement, the Canadian high commission’s media relations office said that the decision was taken in the aftermath of the withdrawal of the Canadian diplomats.

“I can confirm that the Government of Canada has implemented some staff reductions across our network of missions in India. The decision to implement reductions across our network of missions in India was sadly necessary given the reduction of Canadian staff available to effectively manage and maintain in-country operations,” said the statement issued on Thursday (April 12) night.

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While the specific count of local staff who have been laid off has not been disclosed, it’s apparent that the number is significant. With approximately 20 Canadian diplomats, it was unwieldy to work with a much higher proportion of local staff now, the statement indicated.

“We wish to express our sincere gratitude for the resilience, dedication and service of our local staff in India”. The statement also said that the “core services” to Canadians in India, which it described as consular support and business development, will continue to be delivered “so that the citizens of our two countries can continue to benefit from the longstanding ties between Canadians and Indians”.

The Canadian high commission also said that Canada’s “visa application centers in India are operating as normal”. At the time of the mass withdrawal of its diplomats, Canada had also stopped all in-person services at its three consulates.

Among the 41 diplomats who left India were 22 staff from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Canada’s federal body overseeing foreign travel, leaving just five staff for overseeing visa operations.

The IRCC had stated in October that more than 89% of India’s visa applications were already processed through its global network, but cautioned that there would be delays due to the reduction in staff.

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