Parent, grandparent immigration reopens

Ottawa: Two-year freeze, brought in to reduce years-long backlog, lifted Thursday amid some criticism

A two-year freeze on the popular parent and grandparent immigration stream officially lifted Thursday as officials braced for an expected onslaught of applications of which only the first 5,000 completed forms would be processed.
Temporarily shelved in an effort to deal with a backlog that had topped 165,000 applications with wait times as long as eight years, the program relaunched along with tough new criteria to mixed reviews.
While many welcomed the return despite the limited number of available spots - the government has typically received about 40,000 parent and grandparent applications each year - concerns remain about the fairness of the scheme and the political motivation behind it.
"Basically the government is throwing a bone to some communities in order to appease them," Toronto-based immigration lawyer Sergio Karas said. "But this is a bad program in terms of the economic interest of Canada."
Karas argues the program that allows immigrants to sponsor their parents and grandparents to come to Canada should be shelved indefinitely. Parents and grandparents, he said, are older and less employable, which means they're less likely to pay taxes and contribute to the economy and more likely to put additional pressure on already strained provincial health systems.
Noting the Conservatives have worked hard to court immigrant voters, Karas suggested the decision to freeze family reunification didn't sit well with many, particularly those in the Indian and Chinese communities.
Queen's University immigration law professor Sharry Aiken argues demand will far outstrip the cap "when you consider the overall number of permanent residents being landed in Canada every year" - about 250,000 - and that many would-be sponsors will inevitably end up "gravely disappointed."