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Multiculturalism & Diversity

Liberals support immigrants while Jason Kenney hides his poor record

Posted on April 19, 2011

BRAMPTON, ON – While Liberals support new Canadian families, Jason Kenney is trying to hide an immigration backlog of more than a million, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said today.

“This month Jason Kenney’s own department confirmed that the immigration backlog has ballooned to one million applications and the Skilled Worker backlog has exceeded 500,000,” said Mr. Ignatieff.  “Despite the fact the Conservatives claim to have reduced the skilled worker backlog, their own figures show they are playing with the numbers to hide the truth.

“The Conservatives are trying to sell Canadians a bill of goods, but new Canadians are too sophisticated to buy it.”

Mr. Ignatieff was speaking to a packed room of more than 60 multicultural media outlets this evening about the Conservative’s poor record and how Liberals will deliver for new Canadians. The open dialogue format stands in stark contrast to Stephen Harper’s closed gathering of a dozen outlets earlier in the campaign.

Conservatives claim to have reduced the skilled worker backlog to 335,000, but they actually simply stopped counting any applications received after 2008 as part of the backlog.  This is just playing with the numbers and government statistics updated this month show the actual skilled worker backlog is 507,931, with the overall backlog growing on the Conservatives’ watch by more than 173,000 to 1,003,012.

With respect to the wait times for parents and grandparents, the Conservative claim they have cut wait times is simply false.  Average wait times for parents and grandparents are currently up overall from 2005 and up sharply for key source countries.  Parents and grandparents from China, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are waiting about two extra years and almost another year from India and the Philippines.

Further, government documents obtained under Access to Information laws show that the Conservatives are cutting parent and grandparent visas by 27% in 2011, which, when added to previous cuts, will be a drop of 44% from the 2006 levels. These cuts will make wait times for parents and grandparents of more than a decade common.

This is not surprising considering Mr. Kenney has dismissed the cuts in the media saying that people who choose to immigrate to Canada do not have a right to bring their extended family. He first told Parliament that parents and grandparents were being cut in favour of more spouses and children, but when it was established that Family Class visas for spouses and children were down 10% in 2010 from 2006 and scheduled to be cut again in 2011, his deception was exposed. Instead of telling the truth, Mr. Kenney simply started denying that parents and grandparents would be cut next year at all.

“Mr. Harper has failed new Canadians on immigration by slashing settlement funding and family reunification numbers, while increasing family reunification wait times and the overall immigration backlog,” said Mr. Ignatieff.  “Families take care of one another and not only provide emotional support, but help with labour barriers like child care.

“A Liberal government will stand up for new Canadian families by reversing five years of Conservative cuts and returning family class visas to the same proportion of overall immigration as in 2006.”