Ottawa, March 23, 2012 – National consultations on the redesign of Canada’s parent and grandparent (PGP) immigration program were launched today by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.
Faced with backlogs and growing wait times, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is planning to revamp its PGP immigration program. Online consultations are now open for public comment on CIC’s website and Minister Kenney will host a series of multicity in-person consultations with stakeholders.
“Our government is fully committed to helping families reunite,” said Minister Kenney. “The feedback provided by Canadians will guide our government in creating a new program in which future applications will be processed quickly and backlogs will not develop. It will also help ensure the program can operate on an efficient and sustainable basis.”
The consultations are being held to discuss the challenges facing the program and seek feedback on possible options for modernizing it.
To deal with the large backlog and lengthy wait times, CIC announced Phase I of the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification in November 2011. First, the Government of Canada increased by over 60 percent the number of sponsored parents and grandparents Canada will admit in 2012 to 25,000. Second, a multiple entry Parent and Grandparent Super Visa was introduced which is valid for up to 10 years. Third, the government committed to consulting with Canadians on how to redesign the parent and grandparent program and fourth, CIC put in place a temporary pause of up to 24 months on the intake of new sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents.
For the PGP program to be sustainable, it must be redesigned to avoid future backlogs. This means finding a way to better balance the number of applications CIC receives and the number of parents and grandparents admitted in a given year. A redesigned program must also be sensitive to fiscal constraints, bearing in mind Canada’s generous public health care system and other social benefits.
A revamped program must be transparent and people should be able to easily understand eligibility requirements and know how long it is going to take to process their application.
Unless the demand for spaces in the PGP category is managed when the current pause on application intake is lifted, the backlog and long wait times have the potential to quickly grow again. To avoid this, the future intake of sponsorship applications must be managed. Redesign options are being explored to address a number of questions, such as the following:
- Should we try to ease the economic impact of parents and grandparents by, for example, requiring sponsors to be financially responsible for their parents and grandparents over the PGP’s lifetime, applying a fee, or requiring sponsors to have a higher income?
- Should we redefine the eligibility of family members who accompany parents and grandparents by, perhaps, focusing on parents rather than on the siblings of sponsors, or by applying a “balance of family test” in which parents and grandparents would be required to have from half to the majority of their children living permanently in Canada?
- Should we emphasize a commitment to Canada on the part of sponsors by, for example, making it mandatory to be a Canadian citizen (and not just a permanent resident) in order to apply?
- Should we focus on special needs or exceptional cases by, for example, requiring that the parent or grandparent be widowed or have other exceptional needs?
“Our government has taken action through a series of balanced measures to reduce the large backlog and lengthy wait times that existed,” added Minister Kenney. “I look forward to hearing ideas from Canadians on how to further improve the program.”
The online public consultations launched today feature a discussion paper that outlines the PGP immigration program and policy options being explored through the consultations, as well as a consultation questionnaire. The online consultations are open until May 25, 2012.
What is heard through the in-person and online consultations will help to inform the redesign of the PGP program. A report on the results of the consultations will also be made available on the CIC website later this year.