A call to action - continued
The 2011 cap on sponsoring parents & grandparents
Since the CBC reports on changes in the sponsorship of parents and grandparents hit the airwaves early last month there have been a number of developments. Prior to the publication of my last column I received an unsolicited telephone call from a radio station in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The producer found my earlier Ask Tito Mike article entitled Canada Immigration: Critics and Advocates (Pilipino Express, 16 Oct 2010) and asked if I would comment on the CBC story.
I received no advanced warning but was informed by the producer of the show that the previous speaker, who spoke in favour of cutting the sponsorship of parents, was the director of the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform. Apparently the director had just finished presenting his arguments but I did not have the opportunity to hear what he said. I was then asked if I supported the capping the number of visas at 11,000 annually and I stated emphatically, “No!” At the end of the radio interview the host thanked me for presenting a defence of family class immigration.
In this column I challenged both the local community and our elected political representatives, especially Members of Parliament, to discuss the issue honestly and openly because I am certain that many in the local community are in favour of family immigration. So far, I have received a lot of positive encouragement and kind words of support on this issue.
The present Conservative government in Ottawa seems to place too much emphasis on the research of the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform. Their reliance on this anti-immigration lobby group is misplaced because it does not represent all Canadians nor are their opinions in keeping with our proud traditions of supporting immigration to the country. Canada is a country that was built upon immigration. The advocates of reduced sponsorship of parents have not fully considered or understood the following:
- One of the stated objectives of The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of 2002, and the earlier versions of the Actis, “to see that families are reunited in Canada” (IRPA Section 3.1.d). Canadians pride themselves on treating new Canadians the same as those who were born in the country. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to conclude that newcomers should have the right to sponsor their parents. The hope for family reunification is one of the reasons that applicants choose Canada as a place to immigrate;
The main argument against the sponsorship of parents raised by the detractors is that somehow this class of immigrant is economically “bad” for the country. A version of this argument can be found in both the findings of the Immigration Centre on Policy Reform and recent statements of federal immigration Minister Jason Kenny.
Why “bad?” The opponents state that the parents and grandparents do not work, receive free medical coverage, access Old Age Security and, possibly, the guaranteed income supplement after 10 years of residency. In other words, they take from Canada and give little back. This argument ignores the fact that many sponsored parents and grandparents do enter the workforce while others help with child rearing so that younger sponsor-parents can increase their participation in the Canadian work force. They also overlooked is the simple fact that even before a family can sponsor their parents or grandparents, they must demonstrate that they have the financial ability to do so since they will be responsible for their living expenses of their elders. This is known as the LICO or low income cut off.
The health of any country is measured in terms of increased economic activity in terms of sales and employment because of increases in the consumption of goods and services. There is a direct correlation between an increase in population, through immigration, and the corresponding increases in purchases of more food, housing and other consumer items, which in turn results in more sales and more jobs created;
- Finally, there is the failure of the detractors of family reunification to consider other benefits to Canada. Is the director of the Immigration Centre on Policy Reform aware of the differences between the dominant nuclear family model found in mainstream Canadian families and the extended family unit common to cultural communities, such as the expatriates from the Philippines? Have they measured the social or economic cost of the extended family system in this country or hybrid combination of both nuclear and extended? Economic costs must also be measured in other expenses to Canada. Unpublished research has revealed that children reared in the traditional extended family system, like that of the Philippines, are less likely to become involved in criminal and antisocial behaviour in Canada. The integration of such families into Canadian life is helped by the love, care and guidance across generations that our parents and grandparents provide. As one caller told me: “I feel more comfortable, and secure knowing my mother is here to help with the children.” This sense of security comes with attendant savings in terms of the ease of family integration and adaptation of newcomers to the Canadian way of life and overall social service expenses to the Canadian taxpayer.
I have received a number of calls from members of the local Filipino community who said that they were alarmed to hear about the changes in federal immigration. I was also invited to my first public meeting on the subject at LaMirage Restaurant, which was hosted by Teddy Marcelino. It is encouraging to see members of the community organizing a response. It is important to discuss the issue publicly because all Canadians, including those new to the country, have the right to be heard on the issue and also to be treated fairly. The public discussion is starting and we shall see where it leads.
It is also interesting to note that not all governments in Canada share the same negative opinion of immigration and it’s economic benefit to the country. At the same time the federal immigration minister is imposing an 11,000 cap on the sponsorship of parents, our provincial government is restating its strong support for immigration to the province. The Manitoba Immigration Minister Jennifer Howard announced that Manitoba is moving to increase nomination certificates from 5,000 to 5,500 in 2011. In a Winnipeg Free Press story (25/02/2011), Howard said that the provincial NDP government is “trying to be constructive in our discussions (with federal immigration) about levels, but at the end of the day we’re advocating for increased immigration to Manitoba.”
We should not expect Manitoba and Canada to agree on all aspects of immigration policy but we should take note that one level of government is working to increase numbers while the other appears intent on cutting the number of newcomers admitted to the country.
Michael Scott BA (Hon), MA, is a 30-year veteran of Canada Immigration and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program who works as an immigration associate with R.B. Global Immigration Consultants Ltd. He can be reached at 838 Ellice Avenue in Winnipeg, (204) 783-7326 or (204) 227-0292. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org