Ottawa to accept more applications under immigrant family reunification program

posted on August 22, 2018

By CBC News |

The federal government will help more immigrant families reunite by increasing the number of parents and grandparents admitted to Canada under its reunification program, Minister Amarjeet Sohi announced Monday in Edmonton.

Ottawa will admit up to 20,500 parents and grandparents under its reunification program in 2019, and 21,000 in 2020. This year, 17,000 people were admitted under the program.

“Parents and grandparents often help care for children, for example, increasing their parents ability to work and study and to make a meaningful contribution to their communities,” said Sohi.

“When immigrant families are able to stay together, their integration into the Canadian society improves.”

The government is also replacing a much criticized lottery system with a first-come-first-served approach, said Sohi, who made the announcement on behalf of Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.

Erick Ambtman, executive director of Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, said family separation is an issue his organization has raised, and he’s pleased Ottawa is listening.

“We know that kids and families do better when they’re together, it’s another opportunity for joy and happiness,” said Ambtman.

He listed a number of benefits when extended families live in the same city, such as caregiving and family dinners.

“It’s kind of like, the village is raising the child, not just mom and dad,” said Ambtman, who also praised the first-come-first-served approach as a way to give families more understanding about what’s happening with the process.

The Liberal government also used Monday’s announcement to showcase its progress and criticize the previous government for leaving the system with what he called a large backlog, long processing times and a gap in client services.

“This increase is possible thanks to the fact we largely eliminated the backlog of the parent and grandparent applications,” said Sohi.

“In 2011, the previous government had a backlog that peaked at 167,000. As of June 2018, we have reduced it to just under 26,000.”

Recently CBC reported about a Turkish family that reunited in Edmonton as well as others still waiting for reunification.

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