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What is the hidden agenda of the super visa?

Regardless of ideological thought or partisan persuasion the fact remains that there is a severe backlog of approximately 165,000 applications for parents and grandparents sponsorship. This backlog has essentially ceased any practical functioning of this area of responsibility for CIC and as a result the Minister has put a moratorium on such applications for two years and as a substitute has created a “Super Visa” in its place. The determinate factors in the issuance of this regulatory change is to reduce the backlog while at the same time to facilitate the reunification of these family members in this interim period. At is base the Super Visa is a new form of Visa that will allow the eligible family members multiple entries into Canada over the course of ten years permitting a stay of up to twenty four months at a time. In addition the processing time of these Visas has been expedited to around eight weeks.

It is clear that the current model is broken and a new approach must be taken to reduce the backlog and get the applications flowing again but is this really the answer that will elicit the best resolution? Should the government be looking at a regulatory change or rather just an administrative modification? While the recognition of the problem by the government is laudable, is this stop gap measure going to be a help or a hindrance to those family members?

Several immediate areas of concern are apparent that I believe will cause frustration and anxiety amongst the family members rather than alleviate tension. Foremost is the new financial requirement of the Super Visa that include a provision for a $100,000 CDN coverage medical policy that must be in force for at least one year. When taken together with return airfare to the country of origin this outlay can easily amount to several thousand dollars. It must be remembered that the Super Visa is only a temporary visitor visa and will not allow these persons to work in any capacity to offset these costs while in Canada so taken together this is a cost prohibitive measure effectively barring many families from the beginning of the process. The sponsor families are held to the financial means for the applicant family again putting many families at length of affordability.

In furtherance of the issues of financial requirements the LICO or low income cut off is designed around a national standardized model which is grossly unfair due to regional disparity. By not taking into account the easily observable differences in income and cost of living you are prejudicing based purely on a basis of micro-economic reality.

Taken on these few points it seems that there is a barrier to many applicants just in terms of affordability but with the extensive overhaul on the entire Canadian citizenship and immigration portfolio by the Harper administration an examination of the Super Visa must be taken in a broader analysis of the policy desire of the governing Tories.

Health care costs to Canadians attributed to this demographic being in Canada have been offered up as a possible justification for limiting the numbers allowed into the country. Empirical evidence from my research shows no hard evidence that this is the case; there has been no real drain on Canadian resources.

Much fanfare has been made around the new policy direction of Mr. Kenney’s attempt to model the changes to the system to favour an economic emphasis on Canadian immigration. Again, while perhaps a worthwhile objective, evidence of the economic benefits of parents and grandparents under the old system is contrary to the direction posed by Mr. Kenney. Innumerable benefits are attributed to having parents and grandparents involved in the lives of their children not the least of which are economic. Child care costs, not to mention the subjective benefits of family nurturing, are often nullified or at least mitigated by having families care for the children while the parents work. Parents and especially grandparents can be practically considered a de facto member of investment classes of persons as they often bring the equity, profits and estate value of a life time of work and dissolution of investment and assets. Often just the ability to bring the business acumen and network relationships from their native land can have a blanketing effect on Canadian business.

Canadians have long prided themselves on the mosaic aspect of our society as considered against the melting pot attitude of the Americans. Is multi-generational family unification not the easiest and most apparent method to accommodate this model apart from the social benefits, emotional supports and basic humanity of having easily accessible reunification programs?

I feel that Mrs. Harper and Kenney have been paying lip service to the immigrant communities in Canada by allying with and then distorting certain alleged commonalities between the Conservative policy and the so called family values of the “old country”. Often, it seems that the Reform Party natural inclination towards the subtle and not so subtle hindering of societal acceptance of women’s rights, same sex marriage and other so called values from a legislative viewpoint is manipulated to appear to be in concert with immigrant views and desires.

There is a severe backlog with the family reunification applications but I would suggest that the best way to have the most immediate and simple effect is that of an administrative overhaul rather than a quick fix solution that is being offered up. This problem draws parallels to the current problem EI recipients are having when attempting to file their claim with some claimants experiencing up to a six month backlog. Is the answer as easy as hiring more officers to complete the existing claims? In today’s budget the Prime Minister will be looking at reducing the size of the bureaucracy taking the saving of reduction in staff but adding to the size of unemployment. Could there not be a shift in departments reducing inefficiencies in one ministry and strengthening others such as Citizenship and Immigration? I don’t believe that the government’s true intention is that of assistance to families and immigrants in general but that of a larger agenda.

Andrew McLennan
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku

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