BY JOHN MCCALLUM
Federal Liberal Critic for Multiculturalism, Citizenship and Immigration
PUBLIC debate is more productive when people tell the truth. Sadly, on November 7 in Question Period, the Minister of Immigration [Chris Alexander] tried to mislead Canadians by ignoring data that is easily available on government websites.
First, the Minister made the following statement:
“Now the waiting period is only one year.”
To show that waiting periods are more than one year, all one has to do is go onto the department’s website at www.cic.gc.ca. There, right near the top of the home page, there is a useful item called “Check processing times.” If one clicks on that button, one is directed to information on the most up-to-date processing times by class of immigrant and country. The website is clear. Depending on the country, the processing time for Parents and Grandparents is between 5 and 9 years! The median processing time is 8 years for entrepreneurs, 5 years for investors, and 3 years for live in caregivers. Not a single immigration category has a median processing time of less than one year.
Second, in response to my statement that “over the past five years, under the responsibility of this Conservative government, waiting times for family reunification have exploded, rising from 13 months to 34 months,” the Minister responded as follows:
“The statements of the member are completely false.”
The numbers backing my statement are also taken from a government website (http://data.gc.ca/data/en/dataset/427337d0-7c36-4fed-8428-c6a63f8c19b3). As I stated in the House, the average processing time for family class reunification has indeed gone from 13 months in 2007 to 34 months in 2012. Indeed, the true situation is even worse than I indicated, as the average processing time rose further to 43 months for the year ending June 30, 2013.
While we all will inevitably differ on some policy issues, fundamentally Canadians want an efficient immigration system with reasonable waiting times for those who wish to come to Canada. However, the debate will not be advanced by misrepresenting the facts, and the facts state that family class waiting times have tripled over the past five years and that waiting times today are well in excess of a year. In future, I hope that the Minister will engage in honest debate.
John McCallum is the MP for the riding of Markham-Unionville, Ontario.