The NDP’s Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship is urging the federal government to allow more parents and grandparents from other countries to join their children and grandchildren in Canada.
Jenny Kwan, MP for Vancouver East, made the call after the government announced that it is doing away with the so-called lottery system for the parent and grandparent reunification program.
Kwan said that this move on its own will not ensure that more parents and grandparents are reunited with their loved ones in Canada.
“It’s like accepting additional resumes for the same number of jobs. If you only have one job opening, regardless of whether you accept 100 applications or 1,000, the number of jobs available is still one,” Kwan said in a media release.
Last August 20, Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced in Surrey, B.C. that the random selection process will come to an end.
Starting in 2019, according to Hussen, potential sponsors can submit online a form expressing interest to sponsor a parent or grandparent, and the government will act on these “based on the order that they submit that form”.
“And so we will just accept everyone until we reach a cap of 20,000,” Hussen said. “And that is a fairer first-in system that treats everyone the same and doesn’t rely on agents or spending more money.”
The lottery system was put in place last year, replacing the first-come, first-served immigration process to reunite parents and grandparents.
The change was meant to address the backlog complaints that the process favours those with mailing addresses closer to immigration processing centres, as well as applicants who hire lawyers and consultants to get to the head of the line.
As Hussen noted, “Now, the previous process was a very unfair process. If you were willing to spend way more money than the next person who was applying, you would have higher odds. If you lived closer to the processing centre, if your postal code was closer to the processing centre, you had higher odds than the next person. That was not a fair system. It didn’t treat everyone equally.”
However, according to Hussen, the government has listened to concerns regarding the lottery system, hence the decision to do away with it.
This year, Canada will accept 17,000 parents and grandparents under the government’s reunification program.
Hussen said that in 2019, the number will increase to 20,000.
“Increasing the parents and grandparents program to 20,000 applications is four times the number of applications accepted when the program reopened in 2014, when the cap was set at 5,000 applications,” the minister said.
But according to the NDP’s Kwan, the numbers cited by Hussen were the same figures announced by the government in November last year.
“There has been no increase to this number at all with this announcement,” Kwan said about Hussen’s announcement last August 20.
Kwan’s media release recalled that the Vancouver East MP has repeatedly called on the government to “eliminate the cap for parents/grandparents sponsorships with corresponding increases in the levels plan”.
“She also hopes that the financial eligibility for sponsoring parents and grandparents can also be revisited,” according to Kwan’s press release.
The media release also described the lottery system as a “fiasco right from the get go.”
Kwan said: “Reuniting with your loved ones should never be based on the luck of the draw.”