Canada to accept fewer relatives of immigrants
OTTAWA – The Conservative government aims to cut down an immigration backlog by capping the number of parents and grandparents of immigrants who can come to Canada, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, pictured, said Thursday.
“Canada is the most generous country in the world with respect to immigration – but there have to be practical limits to our generosity,” Mr. Kenney said after speaking at an often-heated Commons committee meeting.
The backlog, or total number of immigration applications still waiting to be processed, is now more than a million names long, according to immigration officials.
Mr. Kenney’s comments came after NDP immigration critic Don Davies suggested in an Oct. 14 letter to the Minister that Ottawa set a target of issuing 289,000 to 336,000 total permanent residency visas for 2012.
Canada receives about 400,000 applications for permanent residency every year. Since coming into power, the Conservative government has granted permanent residency to an average of 254,000 a year. Last year, about 38,000 of those applications were from parents and grandparents of permanent residents, said Mr. Kenney.
Mr. Davies recommended increasing the number parent and grandparent admissions to Canada. Higher immigration levels are needed to satisfy a growing labour shortage and create a sustainable economy, wrote the NDP MP in the letter.
While he agreed there is a need to increase participation in the workforce, Mr. Kenney said immigration is not the solution.
Only about 20% of immigrants to Canada are primary economic immigrants, he said, while the remaining applicants are their spouses and sponsored family members.
“To those who think we can solve that problem through immigration alone are profoundly mistaken,” Mr. Kenney told the citizenship and immigration committee.
He said the Conservative government isn’t opposed to family reunification, but said there must be limits.
“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 level of utilization of the public health system.”
Limiting the number of family sponsored applications would also help speed up processing times, Mr. Kenney said. “I don’t want people waiting seven, eight or 10 years for their parents or grandparents to come,” he said. “That’s cruel.
That’s unfair.” He suggested looking at other countries’ immigration policies for ideas on how to limit applications. One method might be a minimum family income criteria.
Article courtesy of the National Post
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