National consultations on parent and grandparent immigration – the end of Parent Sponsorships?

By Author: Max Chaudhary | April 8, 2012

The Minister’s March 23, 2012 news release regarding the above should be approached with some caution. Democratic governments often like to have a veneer of accountability, and then cherry pick to voices that fit its preferred policy end and then declare the resultant policy to have been made after consultation with interested parties.

The news release says, “Faced with backlogs and growing wait times” but fails to admit that the backlogs were created by the department’s own resource allocation – deploying less immigration officers to deal with sponsorships, thereby manufacturing an excessive wait time for the sponsorship of parents and grandparents in addition to allocating less spots for family class immigration (in favour of skilled/business immigration). This is also known as creating “facts on the ground.” This ignores the fact the end-all of Canada’s immigration program is not exclusively for Canada’s economic benefit. If you read the relevant Act, you’ll find it’s also about family reunification.

In keeping with the desire to have a veneer of democratic accountability, the press release states the department, ”will host a series of multicity in-person consultations with stakeholders”. The voices that will be heard at these consultations speak at different volumes to the ear of the Minister. Some, voices like that of the Canadians Against Immigration Fraud which fit more within the intention of the current government to restrict family class immigration on the basis of a few fraudulent cases. Similarly, one-sided institutions like the Fraser Institute effectively are agents for the current government’s view that immigrants with a Canadian job offer are preferable for Canada’s economic objectives (over immigrants who bring human capital – possessing inherent skills/adaptability associated with high education and a demonstrated degree of proficiency in a skilled endeavour). The former view is essentially similar to the United States H1b system which has been criticized for being a form of enforced loyalty to a US employer, pending the long process of obtaining a US green card.

In other words, organizations that assert the health care burden of elderly immigrant parents shall bring Canada’s health care system to its knees (or some other melodramatic assertion) will have a huge share of the Minister’s ear.

I have found no statistics that show there is a net burden to Canada’s economy when parents/grandparents are allowed to immigrate; if buying expensive jets are predicted to have economic spinoffs for Canada, then why wouldn’t sponsored parents, who become consumers of Canadian goods and services (and are prohibited from taking welfare for 10 years and, further, must pass numerous medical exams before getting a visa), have similar implications?

The argument that elderly immigrants are a burden on Canada’s health system, and never contributed into Canada’s health system is not relevant, given that the current payers into the health care system are the current health care users; in other words the current funding of Canada’s health care system can’t be attributed to the taxes paid by Canadians who worked in Canada for the past 40 years.

The government took a good first step in pausing the intake of parental immigration and committing to eliminate the backlog of parental sponsorships. It would be unfortunate if it used the consultations as a way to disingenuously conclude that Canadians do not want parents to immigrate.

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