In an attempt to reduce welfare costs, citizens and permanent residents who want to bring their parents or grandparents to Canada will have to show greater financial means to support them.
The announcement was made yesterday in Mississauga by Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. The filing of new sponsorships of parents and grandparents were stopped in the fall of 2011 in order to allow the government to catch up on the backlog of outstanding applications. Applications for the sponsorship of these relatives will begin again on Jan. 2, 2014.
According to the minister, the program to cut the backlog in half is on track and when sponsorships begin again, it is anticipated it will take less time for sponsored parents and grandparents to arrive in Canada. Under the old process, some families had to wait as long as 10 years to be reunited.
Under the new rules that will come in next year, sponsors will have to show a greater income than they did in order to ensure new arrivals in the country have the means to support their relatives. This will also lead to less taxpayers' money being spent on social programs such as welfare.
Kenney said, "These new criteria ensure sponsored family members are well supported by their sponsors throughout their time in Canada. The redesigned Parent and Grandparent program (PGP) reunites families faster while respecting Canadian taxpayers and the limited resources for health and social programs."
During 2012 and 2013, Canada expects to accept 50,000 new immigrants under the parent and grandparent category. During 2014, only 5,000 new applications will be accepted. While levels of new arrivals will remain high, the limit on new applications will allow the government to further reduce the backlog.
Under the new rules, sponsors will have to provide proof of an income 30% greater than they had to show previously. Undertakings given to support relatives who arrive in Canada will require sponsors to be on the hook for 20 years, double the period now required.
Sponsors will have to provide Canada Immigration with their notices of assessment issued by Canada Revenue Agency as proof of income for three years. Now that assessment only has to be given for one year.
Adult siblings will no longer be able to be sponsored as members of the family class. Under current rules, brothers and sisters can be sponsored in their 20s and 30s if they are in full time attendance at school or university.
When asked about the changes, Kenney said, "Elderly people place a much greater burden on the public health-care system, a public health-care system that is already in crisis, where costs are growing much faster than the economy, much faster than the population, where emergency wards are overcrowded, where wait times are enormous."
As to welfare, Kenney said he has been told by officials with municipal housing that a large number of elderly newcomers are going on welfare and living in subsidized housing. The minister called this "an abuse of Canada's generosity."
Another change announced yesterday is that the issuance of super visas, first established in 2011 will be made permanent. A super visa allows parents and grandparents to make multiple entries into Canada for a period of 10 years. Since the program began, more than 15,000 of these visas have been issued.