Feds need to go further to reunite families, activist says
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.”