Immigration Wait Times Are Unacceptable For New Canadians

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By John McCallum, MP *

A constituent comes into my Markham office, angry and upset that his mother has been denied permission to visit Canada for her granddaughter's wedding. Why, he says, should he as a hard-working Canadian taxpayer be denied this basic right that is so important to his family?

Another constituent is frustrated that he has already waited more than two years, and his wife has still not gained admission to Canada. He has yet to see his infant daughter who is too young to fly to Canada on her own. His question:  "How long does this government think my marriage will last when they keep us apart for so long and we have no idea how much longer it will take?"

Such reactions are not confined to Markham. They happen every day across the country, especially in regions with high concentrations of new Canadians.

Few experiences are as painful or emotionally draining as being forced to endure long and unpredictable wait times to be reunited with loved ones. Moreover, Canadians are right to be frustrated and angry, as these wait times have increased dramatically. 

According to the immigration department's own numbers, average wait times for family class reunification from India tripled between 2007 and 2012, rising from 9 months to 27 months. The situation for China was even worse, as average waiting times rose from 7 to 39 months over the same period.

According to the department's current web site, average wait times for spouses and children exceed two years for three countries (Pakistan, Kenya, Singapore), and they exceed one year for at least four additional countries (Sri Lanka, India, Philippines, Jamaica).

Parents and grandparents have been barred from applying for landed immigrant status, and for those who applied before the ban was imposed, average wait times are well over five years.

For visitors, it takes 69 days to process a visitor's visa from Pakistan and 133 days from Turkey.

We understand that Canada's capacity to absorb new immigrants is limited.  We also understand that there are some bad apples who seek to abuse the system. Nevertheless, the horrendous increases in wait times over the past five years constitute an undue hardship for new Canadians. It is high time the government devoted the necessary resources to fix this situation, yet there was not even a mention of the problem in the recent Speech from the Throne.

* John McCallum is the MP for the riding of Markham-Unionville and is the Liberal Critic for Multiculturalism, Citizenship and Immigration.

JULY 2018

Vol. 12 - No. 12


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