We are actually very excited with the adoption of a multi-year levels plan this year. This is a new thing. I think it's fair to say that our provincial colleagues and also the service provider organizations who work in this area are very happy about it as well. The reason for that is that it allows us a planning horizon in order to be prepared as we increase immigration levels. It allows us to be prepared from a processing perspective, and it allows our service providers to be prepared to welcome and integrate new Canadians into the country.
I think that the multi-year plan, and the fact that the levels are increasing over a period of years, really will help us to plan to address some of the processing time issues that we have seen over many years.
As you know, we end up with backlogs when the intake into a particular stream isn't matched by the levels plan, so that we don't have enough levels to actually bring in the number of people who are coming and getting into the queue.
Over time, the department has made significant progress on that due to important initiatives that have been taken. For example, on spousal sponsorships, with increasing inventory, we have managed to decrease the inventory from 75,000 to 15,000. The processing time for new applications is within 12 months, and because we've built into this multi-year levels plan an increase in levels every year, we anticipate being able to keep it at 12 months.
Similarly, for parents and grandparents, we have limited the intake, but we have increased the number of parents and grandparents that will be admitted over a number of years. That also will allow us to make progress on the processing times on the parents and grandparents front.
Finally, on the program for private sponsors of refugees, I think one thing that is built into the levels plan is a very significant increase in the number of privately sponsored refugees that will be brought in every year. Again, the purpose of that is expressly to reduce the processing time and to bring in those people who are waiting and who have been waiting for quite a while to come.