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In spring 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) held consultations with stakeholders and the public on the redesign of Canada’s parent and grandparent (PGP) immigration program.
As part of Canada’s Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney hosted a series of multi-city in-person meetings with stakeholders, and an online consultation questionnaire was also available for public comment.
The consultations sought feedback in two key areas:
- How to manage intake of applications; and
- What a modernized parent and grandparent immigration program could look like.
The meetings were attended by a total of 23 stakeholders representing a variety of perspectives, including those of settlement provider organizations, ethnocultural organizations and economists.
The online consultation received a total of 6,444 completed responses – the most of any online consultation hosted by the Department. The majority of responses, 6,390 in total, were from participants that self-identified as members of the general public, 50 responses were received from stakeholders/individuals representing an organization, and 4 responses were gathered from those representing a provincial or territorial government.
Consultation participants (for the online consultation and for the in-person meetings) were provided with a background document that outlined the PGP immigration program and policy options being explored through the consultations.
The following is an overview summary of input received through both the online consultation and the in-person meetings with stakeholders. Detailed findings from the consultations are also available:
Overall, throughout the consultations (both the roundtable meetings and the online consultation), the general public and stakeholders held similar views regarding the various initiatives and options proposed in the consultations, though the general public frequently reported stronger views (i.e. more positive or more negative) than did stakeholders.
With respect to the intake of applications, the majority of respondents (general public and stakeholders) preferred the idea of a first-come first-served approach over a lottery-style program, with many saying that the former approach provides fairness and transparency. However, supporters of both options emphasized that the decision-making process must incorporate family needs and extenuating circumstances.
Respondents were presented with a variety of potential initiatives aimed at modernizing the current PGP immigration program. Their responses indicated that both personal and national economics played a role in forming their views towards the various programs. While participants did not endorse the idea of fees being imposed on either applicants or their sponsors, they did support the necessity of sponsors demonstrating income stability. Participants also commented on the potential cost of parents and grandparents to Canada’s social programs, and expressed concern about admitting numbers of people that would exceed Canada’s financial capability to support them. On the other hand, when discussing the opportunity to admit siblings rather than simply spouses, many commented on the value of younger applicants, both as a direct benefit to Canada’s workforce, as well as socially, as they could ease the integration process and provide a support system for their families.
Overall, as detailed in the following reports, none of the proposed initiatives received support by large majorities; they all produced mixed responses of varying degrees. The two initiatives that received the greatest support were "limiting sponsorship of parents and grandparents to those who had obtained Canadian citizenship" and the "balance of family" proposal, requiring that parents and grandparents have the majority of their children living in Canada to be eligible for.
The common themes throughout the consultations focused on family reunification, improvements to the system, and an assurance that whatever policies do get implemented in the future will include safeguards against fraud and abuse of the system.
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