December 18, 2013
Canadian Immigration & Family Reunification, Version 2014
Today December 18th, 2013 Citizenship & Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced the Parent and Grandparent Program is gearing up for re-launch in January 2014. This program introduces a number of new features including:
- Only CRA notices of assessment will be accepted as proof of income
- Sponsors will be required to provide CRA notices of assessment for a 3-year period, instead of just a 1 year period well over the Low Income Cut Off Wages for other sponsorships
- Moving from 10-year to 20-year sponsorship undertaking
- Maximum age of dependents will be 18 years of age and under
In Australia, Contributory Parent options are available for those parents with sufficient capital to contribute to their future health costs in Australia. These visas subclasses are designed to overcome the otherwise lengthy waiting period currently facing parents wishing to migrate to Australia, subject to places being available. In Canada the contributions will be borne by sponsors.
Those who advocate in favour of an expanded rather than limited family class argue the financial, social and emotional support that family members provide is vital to the sponsor’s ability to integrate successfully into Canadian society. The new program is not inclusive for most and elderly relatives or children who need to be cared for would benefit by this care coming from a relative as opposed to a social or private service, and this would result in less of a burden on our stretched social resources and services. In addition the sponsor’s time and anxiety would be freed and they could focus on their employment and social integration, which benefits the Canadian economy, culture and society as a whole.
Others argue elderly (over 65) immigrants consume precious Canadian resources at a rate much higher than younger migrants and thus a balance must be struck and welcome these initiatives. In the end the program has survived albeit in a much altered form and the debate will continue as to the appropriate balance being struck. Economic considerations in family class reunification is a reality in 2014 and approximately only 30% of the global immigration numbers include family class and others or simply put, non-economic migrants.
One of Canada’s main goals, like all countries, is to increase our global competitiveness surrounding immigration, and a steady increase in immigrants who will contribute to, in my opinion, our overall social as well as economic wellbeing are crucial to that objective. I have long advocated that our lens must change. The family class need not only be thought of as a non-economic category and at the same time economic migration as a category that does not impact our nation building. This program, regardless of which side of the debate you may find yourself, is an example of cross considerations. And so it begins. Much is left to do.
From my perspective we have to carefully examine the overall immigration numbers, the impact of resettlement, and potential inclusion of siblings in the family class category with economic conditions. Flexibility and ingenuity are the keys to a balanced and fair immigration program that does away with “one size fits” all categories and is responsive to the diverse offerings of the hundreds of thousands of applicants we receive each year. Reacting to current economic circumstances while relying heavily upon tired myopic compartmentalizations of immigrant applicants and categories, must give way to proactive, flexible and creative immigrant streams that will inspire and engage future Canadians to maximize the social and cultural fabric of this wonderful country.