The Parent Trap: What will the Minister do?

Community Opinion & Analysis Sep 16, 2005 at 11:25 am

Canadian Immigration News and Views
By Berto Volpentesta

Now that summer is gone the children are back at school and Parliament returns to discuss the important business of running Canada. Each fall, the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration must report to Parliament and provide an overview of the events of the last year and the ministry’s plan for the coming year or years. The report is usually released in early November or a little sooner. It will be interesting indeed to see what the Minister has up his sleeve for the coming year, but more so for the coming years.

Last year the Minister made good progress in the area of helping spouses and common law partners of Canadians by allowing processing of more of those cases from inside Canada and the department in general did a good job of processing those cases on a priority basis even when the applicant was outside Canada.

Last year the Minister also increased the number of visas allocated to parents to try to help relieve the growing mountain of parent and grandparent applications. Some of the benefits of that increase were seen as some visa posts who took the opportunity to finalize more of those applications and the mountain of sponsorship applications (those waiting to get onto the mountain of applications at visa posts) was also reduced albeit more by slight of hand rather than any beneficial effects of government policy.

Recently, the Case Processing Centre in Mississauga has been sending back entire (I mean entire, including the payment and the original packaging envelop) applications to sponsor parents and grandparents. The covering letter indicates that since so much time has passed (some of these were filed two and three years ago) that it would be a good opportunity to update information on the application.

This seemingly goodwill gesture is rife with the smell of maneuvering to rid the department of the culpability they have accumulated in these applications in that they have not processed any of these applications for the last two or three years while they were overtly promoting how important family was and that sponsorship times were 10, 12 or 18 months. In returning the money they are attempting to say, “Hey, look how nice we are. We are giving you a chance to update your package. Essentially what they mean is, “We fooled you into giving us your money (fees) and provided absolutely no service for the last two years (we did not touch your case).

But what does this mean to those sponsors in Canada who had thought these applications were well under way? What about those sponsors who had applications for their siblings who were dependant two or three years ago but who have now graduated or turned 22? Things have changed indeed. Some of the family members that some sponsors would have liked to bring to Canada are no longer eligible thanks to this mismanagement and false advertising.

It was clear before the Minister’s announcement that the department was on track to substantially reduce if not eliminate the parents and grandparents category from Family Class sponsorship by significant reductions to the visa allocations to that class. In a period of three years the visa allocations went from almost 20,000 to a target of 5,000. Will the Minister resume that course?

With the dramatic decline in refugee claimants due to the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement (An agreement whereby refugee claimants coming to Canada through the USA are turned back to the USA to make their claim raising questions as to how Canada sees refugees and what commitment Canada has to helping refugees, but that is a topic for another day) there should be a surplus of visas to give to other categories like parents and grandparents. Will they, or are they going to revert back to a process of elimination?

The Minister’s announcement last year covered that year and this year so it will be interesting to see what the numbers are for the future years. Do they dare show a retreat from their commitment to parents and grandparents? Does the Minister dare or care? After all, election in the spring and all the Minster needs to do is show a good number for this year, get re-elected and then succumb to the numbers game (too many parents and grandparents equals not enough visas for skilled workers equals an imbalance and a net drain on Canada’s social service network.

What will the Minister do?

Have a question? Send them to Berto Volpentesta or to the editor.
You can reach Mr. Volpentesta at (416) 398 8882 or (416) 787 0612 or email at or visit