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Canada Will Reunite More Immigrant Families Under Its Reunification Program

The government of Canada is increasing the numbers of parents and grandparents admitted to the country with the goal of reuniting more immigrant families.

Amarjeet Sohi, minister of infrastructure and communities, made the announcement in Edmonton Monday.

Under its reunification program, the federal government will admit up to 20,500 parents and grandparents in 2019 and 21,000 in 2020, according to CBC.

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“Parents and grandparents often help care for children, for example, increasing their parents ability to work and study and to make a meaningful contribution to their communities,” Sohi said in a statement to CBC. “When immigrant families are able to stay together, their integration into the Canadian society improves.”

The minister said that the Liberal government had made progress in uniting families since taking office.

“This increase is possible thanks to the fact we largely eliminated the backlog of the parent and grandparent applications,” he said. “In 2011, the previous government had a backlog that peaked at 167,000. As of June 2018, we have reduced it to just under 26,000.”

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This year, Canada will accept 17,000 applications for sponsorship of parents and grandparents.

While progress made have been made, there are still families waiting to be reunited in Canada — other families have been separated by deportations, too.

On behalf of Ahmed Hussen, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, Minister Sohi also announced that Ottawa is eliminating its controversial lottery system when it comes to the reunification program.

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“Instead of randomly selecting the sponsors to apply, we will invite them to submit an application to sponsor their parents and grandparents based on the order in which we receive their interest to sponsor forms,” a statement from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said.

The new system will work on a first-come, first-served basis.

Strict security measures will be upheld with the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, and other intelligence agencies, according to Mathieu Genest, press secretary with IRCC.

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Genest said that immigration is essential for Canada’s future, as the country’s population is aging and there are labour shortages across the country.

But for many, this is more than ensuring Canada’s future, it’s about bringing families together.

Erick Ambtman, executive director of Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, is happy to hear that the government is stepping in.

“We know that kids and families do better when they're together, it's another opportunity for joy and happiness,” Erick Ambtman, executive director of Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, told CBC. “It's kind of like, the village is raising the child, not just mom and dad.”