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There is strong support among Canadians for spouses, partners and dependent children to be reunited with the first arrival but studies suggest there are more doubts about the parent and grandparent stream.
That apprehension is likely to be heightened during the pandemic, as 10,000 potentially vulnerable, elderly residents prepare to arrive.
The government’s own analysis shows parents and grandparents of immigrants tend to be at the bottom of the income ladder after 10 years in Canada
Sponsors are required to show they have enough income to support all the people they will be financially responsible for but that obviously does not include medical costs. As one 2015 study of health care costs in the last year of life in Ontario indicated, they may top $50,000 per person.
You don’t have to be a Trumpian opponent of chain migration to think there is a fairness issue at play here — that people who have not contributed to Canadian society should not automatically have access to this country’s social programs, just as their demand for those services is about to peak.
This is not an abstract consideration for those of us with elderly mothers, living overseas on their own. It would be nice for her to spend her golden years with her grandchildren. But it would be wrong.
A government interested in fairness would tighten the rules around the parent and grandparent program, and instead promote a vehicle that already exists — the super-visa that allows citizens and permanent residents to bring their loved ones to Canada for up to two years at a time, offering multiple entries for up to 10 years. Applicants have to show financial support, undergo a medical exam and, crucially, obtain medical insurance from a Canadian insurer.
The government could also create a new economic class of parent and grandparent — those with more work experience and ability to join the labour force could be fast-tracked to reduce the number of applicants.
Both measures would help shore up the integrity of a program that is in danger of descending to the level of a television game show, where the prize of Canadian residency is sandwiched between a luxury holiday and a speedboat.
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