Feds need to go fur­ther to re­unite fam­i­lies, ac­tivist says

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS - CAROL SAN­DERS carol.san­ders@freep­ress.mb.ca

HE fed­eral gov­ern­ment is once again al­low­ing im­mi­grants to bring their uni­ver­sity-age de­pen­dants to Canada. It is a step in the right di­rec­tion, Win­nipeg ad­vo­cates say, but one that doesn’t go far enough.

Last week, the fed­eral Lib­er­als re­stored the for­mer im­mi­gra­tion guide­line that al­lows peo­ple to bring to Canada de­pen­dant chil­dren un­der the age of 22. It re­versed a 2014 de­ci­sion by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment that low­ered the al­low­able age for de­pen­dants to those un­der 19.

“That’s good news,” said Fred DeVilla, a leader in Win­nipeg’s Filipino com­mu­nity. How­ever, he said, the feds

Tcould have gone far­ther to help re­unite fam­i­lies. “If you’re 21 or 22 or 23, you’re still liv­ing with your par­ents, un­less you’re start­ing your own fam­ily.” DeVilla has helped or­ga­nize Filipino Win­nipeg­gers who are try­ing to raise their con­cerns with gov­ern­ment on a range of is­sues. Rais­ing the age of de­pen­dant chil­dren was one is­sue pointed out to Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau when he was cam­paign­ing in Win­nipeg, DeVilla said.

Par­ents com­ing to Canada from the Philip­pines were con­cerned about hav­ing to leave be­hind older chil­dren who still lived at home, he said. Rais­ing the al­low­able age to 21 is a “wel­come change,” but it could’ve been higher and retroac­tive, DeVilla said.

“It only ap­plies to ap­pli­ca­tions af­ter Oct. 24,” said Win­nipeg im­mi­gra­tion lawyer David Matas, ad­ding the gov­ern­ment was asked to raise the age of de­pen­dants retroac­tively, but it re­fused.

The feds ar­gued such a move would de­lay pro­cess­ing times, said Matas. “It’s not very per­sua­sive.”

Mean­while, the age of de­pen­dant chil­dren im­mi­grants are al­lowed to bring to Canada shouldn’t have been low­ered in the first place, says the head of one of Canada’s largest pri­vate spon­sors of refugees.

“This rule about be­ing able to bring chil­dren un­der age of 22 has been with us for years and years and years,” said Tom Den­ton, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Hos­pi­tal­ity House Refugee Min­istry in Win­nipeg.

“It was only this aber­ra­tion by the Harper gov­ern­ment that changes that. What the Lib­er­als are do­ing is they are cor­rect­ing the sit­u­a­tion and re­turn­ing it to what it has al­ways been,” said Den­ton, ad­ding the big news he’s been wait­ing for is the tabling of im­mi­gra­tion lev­els for the year ahead.

By Nov. 1, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has to ta­ble a break­down of how many new­com­ers from every group Canada will wel­come next year.

“We al­ways look for­ward to it every year,” said Den­ton, even though the lev­els are pretty pre­dictable and not what he is hop­ing for.

“It’s usu­ally just a mod­est re­arrange­ment of the num­bers,” said the for­mer lawyer who has been talking up in­creased im­mi­gra­tion to Canada at every op­por­tu­nity. With its aging pop­u­la­tion and low birth rate, Canada needs new­com­ers to sur­vive and thrive, Den­ton said.

“Im­mi­gra­tion is the lifeblood of the coun­try,” he said.

“No coun­try had im­mi­gra­tion rules be­fore the 20th cen­tury,” Den­ton said. “They were brought in af­ter the First World War... We lost by keep­ing Canada gated.

“I don’t ex­pect any­thing to change. There ap­pears to be no think­ing be­yond the ap­proach of Canada be­ing a gated na­tion.”

PHOTOS BY MIKE DEAL / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

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