In a recent 2011 study conducted by the Reputation Institute on the public perception of 50 countries, Canada was ranked number 1, having the best reputation in the world based on the country’s safety, economic stability, environmental attention, and the overall quality of life of its citizens and residents. Consistently ranking high in the United Nations’ human development report, it is no wonder that every year millions of people apply to live in Canada permanently.
Despite accepting approximately 254,000 permanent residence applications every year, however, the Canadian government is facing a continually growing, large backlog of applications, leading to overly lengthy processing times and a strain on resources. In addressing this backlog at a House of Commons committee meeting last week, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney proposed one solution: Cut immigration applications.
More specifically, Minister Kenney told the House of Commons that the solution to addressing the backlog and speeding up processing times was to scale back the number of applications accepted under the Family Class and the sponsorship of parents and grandparents in particular.
“Canada is the most generous country in the world with respect to immigration […] But there have to be practical limits to our generosity. We have to calibrate those limits based on our country’s economic needs, our fiscal capacity. There is no doubt that the people who are coming who are senior citizens, they have much, much lower labour market participation and much higher levels of utilization of the public health system.”
Recently, the processing of sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents has come to an almost screeching halt, with processing times having more than doubled in less than two years (in 2010, processing times for sponsorship approval in this category were approximately 24 months; today, they are reportedly at 49 months). With the exponential increase in processing times and potential cuts further proposed by the Minister, many Canadian citizens and permanent residents are left waiting, and in so doing are facing increased hardship and strain as they care for their aging parents and grandparents.
Some may argue that in order to benefit from the healthcare system and other social benefits for which Canada has become known, immigrants must first contribute by working in the country and paying taxes. However, contributions come in many forms. Many elderly immigrants contribute to the family’s financial and social wellbeing by acting as caregivers, thus enabling their working age children to provide income. And in being able to reside in Canada, financial hardship, as well as emotional strain on the family can often be avoided as the need to support a dependent parent overseas, including the costs of travel and maintaining property abroad is eliminated.
It is yet to be determined whether Minister Kenney’s proposed solution will be implemented in future and if so, to what extent. In the meantime, however, applications to sponsor parents and grandparents continue to process…… slowly.
Posted by Melodie Hughes » No Comments