Stop tearing loved ones apart: NDP
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney during question period Feb. 14, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick.
“Immigrants in the application queue are waiting longer than ever before to be reunited with their spouses, parents or children in Canada,” said Chow. “I’m asking Jason Kenney to show some compassion and some heart, and do something to shorten the processing times.”
Amir Attaran, a professor of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa, has filed a human rights complaint against the Conservative government because of a 60-month delay in processing his parents’ immigration application.
“For a government that talks so much about family values, the Conservatives have the worst record of any government in reuniting immigrants with their families,” said Attaran.
Government documents obtained through Access to Information, show that there are currently 147,769 people waiting to have their applications processed. This means the government has been accepting millions of dollars in fees from Canadians without processing their applications. The Conservatives’ new immigration targets cut intakes by 90 per cent or more in countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America. According to the documents, Citizenship and Immigration Canada may only process five applications in some large countries.
“Clearly, the Conservatives have implemented a discrimination policy, based on race and age, in certain countries and no longer abide by the ‘first come, first serve’ rule when processing applications,” said Chow. “When it takes longer than eight years to bring your parents from Beijing to Canada, there is something seriously wrong with our immigration system”.
Canada admitted the highest amount of immigrants in more than 50 years in 2010, but critics claim the government’s policies are too focused on economics, leaving families by the wayside.
Immigration minister Jason Kenney released 2010 figures Sunday showing Canada admitted 280,636 permanent residents.
“While other Western countries cut back on immigration during the recession, our government kept legal immigration levels high. Canada’s post-recession economy demands a high level of economic immigration to keep our economy strong,” Kenney said in a statement.
The minister said the high number of immigrants admitted last year will help the Canadian economy meet its labour market needs, but critics claim that plan comes at a cost to families waiting to be reunited.
Government documents suggest the Conservatives intend to reduce the annual quota of reunification visas to 11,000 this year, down from over 15,000 in 2010.
Kenney said it’s a necessary move to ensure priority applicants are processed first.
Citing documents obtained through Access to Information, the NDP says there are 147,769 people waiting for their reunification visa applications to be processed. The party also claims the government is accepting millions of dollars in fees from new Canadians without processing their papers.
“Immigrants in the application queue are waiting longer than ever before to be reunited with their spouses, parents or children in Canada,” NDP Immigration Critic Olivia Chow said in a statement Monday. “I’m asking Jason Kenney to show some compassion and some heart, and do something to shorten the processing times.”
The NDP also said that under the Conservatives' immigration policy, new immigration targets cut sponsored admissions from African, Asian, Middle Eastern and South American nations by 90 per cent or more. Government documents suggest only five applications will be processed in some large countries. The government quota has reportedly been increased for sponsorship applications filed at the Beijing visa office.
The Liberals have also accused the Conservatives of misleading immigrants.
“The government has not been up front with new Canadians,” Liberal Immigration Critic Justin Trudeau said Monday. “They enticed skilled workers to come to Canada with a promise their parents and grandparents will soon be able to follow. They’ve cut funding for the settlement services that provide supports, and now they’re cutting the family support system along with it.”
The Liberals estimate a parent may have to wait up to 13 years to be reunited with their family.
The Conservatives say spouses and children are a top priority for reunification visas. Parents and grandparents can visit loved ones on multiple-entry visas until the applications are processed.