Federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino arrives to announce a program to help asylum seekers who worked in the healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic to gain permanent residence status at a news conference in Montreal, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canada reinstates controversial family reunification lottery on Oct. 13

New Canadians and permanent residents who want to bring in their parents and grandparents to Canada will have to once again try their luck with a lottery system, says Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.

After several months of hiatus, the federal government announced Monday that it is reinstating a controversial lottery system to distribute coveted sponsorships to reunite immigrant families.

The program will open Oct. 13 for a three-week window when people can fill out online forms to express interest in bringing their relatives to Canada.

People with disabilities who cannot fill out the online application can request the interest to sponsor form in an alternative format, such as paper copy, Braille or large print, officials said.

After the three-week period ends, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will randomly select potential sponsors and invite them to submit applications.

Those selected will have 60 days to submit their applications. Normally there are 20,000 spots available, but due to the suspension caused by COVID-19, there will be 10,000 available spots this year and 30,000 in 2021.

The new lottery system, which was delayed because of the pandemic, replaced a first-come-first-serve system that the Liberals had introduced last year, but one that proved even more unpopular than the lottery system that existed prior to 2018.

“Our government has strengthened the program by increasing the number of people who can apply, making the intake process more fair, and steadily increasing the number of families who will be able to reunite,” Mendecino said in a statement. “Now, more than ever, family reunification is an important component of Canada’s immigration system.”

Canadian citizens and permanent residents also can apply to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada for up to two years at a time with a ‘super visa’, which allows multiple entries for up to 10 years.

Under that program, applicants must show proof of private medical insurance and financial support.

Opposition parties lambasted the new Liberal policy.

“Justin Trudeau has failed to ensure a fair and compassionate immigration process for those hoping to call Canada home,” said Conservative Party immigration critic Raquel Dancho. “Frankly, it’s unacceptable and those that depend on the immigration system deserve better.”

New Democratic Party MP and immigration critic Jenny Kwan said resorting to the failed lottery system “is definitely not building back better.:

“It’s going backwards and it’s a disgrace,” she said.

With files from Kathleen Harris of CBC News

Categories: Immigration & Refugees, Politics, Society
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