Former Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada, Dr. Kochhar, is now the Assistant Deputy Minister for Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada.
“One of the most attractive features of working in the public service is that as a senior executive, we have the opportunity to work in different roles and this allows individuals to develop the different competencies that are necessary to manage a broad range of portfolios and programs,” says former Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada, Dr. Harpreet Singh Kochhar, who is now the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) for Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). “This is a unique and special position, because the work touches on the life of new Canadians and it shapes the Canada of the future,” expresses the trained scientist who holds a Master’s and Ph.D. degree.
As ADM, he will be mainly responsible for ensuring the swift and timely processing of visitor and permanent immigration visas and providing citizenship and passport services to the permanent residents and Canadian citizens. “My objective is to establish a multi-year strategy to streamline the delivery of immigration, citizenship and passport programs and to maintain the confidence in the Canadian immigration system by safeguarding the integrity and security,” shares Dr. Kochhar, who aspires to achieve the levels of immigration as established by the Government and reduce the processing time and inventories of applications. “The focus is to increase client satisfaction and have a positive client experience for the applicants who interact with the department.”
From Canada’s chief veterinarian to assistant deputy minister for IRCC, Dr. Kochhar has to his credit an impressive portfolio that boasts of strong leadership roles and notable associations. He was appointed Canada’s chief veterinarian in 2014; and also held the position of acting vice president of operations for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) since 2015. Dr. Kochhar was an expert on animal biotechnology for the World Organisation for Animal Health and has worked internationally with organizations as the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
The values imbibed as a veterinarian have helped Dr. Kochhar on his journey to success. “As a profession, Veterinary Science instills in you a strong sense of compassion, analytical thinking and the importance of a strong client-patient-veterinarian relationship. As a veterinarian, whether I was in practice, in academia, or in the Public Service, these strong beliefs have helped me to progress and have allowed me to grow through various challenges and difficult situations,” he says of the beliefs that are an asset to his new role. “In my current position, being compassionate to the needs of the clients and being able to strategically think and develop implementation strategies to forward the department’s mandate are essential characteristics that I have developed over years of experience as a veterinarian and as a scientist.”
Though he comes from the field of Veterinary Science, Dr. Kochhar sheds light on a few similarities his current and past role share. “Both positions have a critical senior leadership role in providing strategic direction, as well as management of a suite of programs for the Department,” he points out, further adding that the experience he acquired at CFIA of running broad operations both in terms of business lines as well as operational footprint is very handy in his current position.
Dr. Kochhar’s role is not only of great prominence but also challenging at the moment as Canada witnesses a rise in immigrants and refugees coming to the country. “Demand for visitor visa to Canada is increasing in a very steep fashion with over 2.7 million visitor visas issued in 2017,” says Dr. Kochhar whose focus is “to align the international visa officer capacity to cope with the increasing demand and to provide services within the established standards.” Highlighting our country’s stand on refugee resettlement, Dr. Kochhar shares that Canada will resettle approximately 27,000 government-supported and privately-sponsored refugees in 2018, another 29,150 in 2019, and 31,700 in 2020. “Canada is also sharing our positive experiences with global partners, from supporting other countries who are creating their own programs to involvement with the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, a joint initiative led by the Government of Canada, the Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Open Society Foundations, the Radcliffe Foundation, and the University of Ottawa.”
Dr. Kochhar is grateful for being given a chance to play a pivotal role in shaping Canada’s future. “Being appointed the ADM at IRCC is a huge achievement, particularly given with the trust and faith that the Department and the public service has shown in me to entrust me with this important position.” he says in conclusion.