Reuniting Families Act

An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (temporary resident visas for parents and grandparents)

Sponsor

Kyle Seeback  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

In committee (House), as of May 4, 2022

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-242.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

May 4, 2022 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-242, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (temporary resident visas for parents and grandparents)

May 5th, 2022 / 1:15 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Chair, Mr. Seeback said I was going to call in a witness, but I don't know yet whether I'm going to call one for the study of Bill C‑242.

I want the clerk to know that I haven't made a decision yet.

Reuniting Families ActPrivate Members' Business

May 4th, 2022 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

As this is the first recorded division to be taken on an item of Private Members' Business in Parliament, I would like to take this opportunity to explain the procedure.

The recorded division will start with the sponsor of the item, regardless of whether the member is participating in person or by video conference. We will then proceed row by row, without making any distinction of party, with members in favour of the motion, beginning at the back row of the side of the House on which the sponsor sits. I will call each row until we reach the front row of the seats.

After we have gone through all the rows on this side, the hon. members on the other side of the House will have their turn to vote, starting again with the last row.

Those opposed to the motion will be called in the same order. Members who are not present in the House will cast their votes using the electronic voting system, as was the case for other votes recently.

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-242 under Private Members' Business.

The House resumed from May 3 consideration of the motion that Bill C-242, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (temporary resident visas for parents and grandparents), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2022 / 6:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Iqra Khalid Liberal Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am quite delighted to rise today to speak to this very important issue of Bill C-242: the reuniting families act. This bill proposes to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to allow a parent or grandparent who applies for a temporary resident visa as a visitor to purchase private health insurance outside Canada, and to stay in Canada for a period of five years. I am hoping that we can bring this bill into committee to study this very good idea more, and really understand the implications of this idea and how it would impact constituents in my riding and across Canada.

One of the main issues that I face in my riding of Mississauga—Erin Mills, with over 50% of the population being first-generation immigrants, and a population of professionals and double-income households, is the issue of child care and raising kids within Mississauga—Erin Mills and the impact of grandparents. I immigrated to Canada when I was 12 years old, and one of the most beneficial things I was able to experience in my childhood was spending my summers with my grandparents from both my mom's side and my dad's side. I learned a lot from them. I learned the value of family from them. This is what I hear a lot from my constituents who are first-generation immigrants and who want their kids, born in Canada, to have that same experience.

The importance of having family here in Canada is paramount not just in building strong communities and strong families, but also in terms of our economic prosperity. As I mentioned, we have double-income households in my riding. One of the main issues that my constituents face is child care. I do not just mean having somebody to look over kids throughout the day, but having quality child care with family values and that all-encompassing upbringing that our kids deserve. Grandparents really fulfill that role.

Over the past seven years that I have been serving as the member of Parliament for Mississauga—Erin Mills, this has been one of the top issues that my constituents have raised. They apply for the super visa, as we call it, so that their parents can come and go as they please to make sure that they are well connected with their grandkids and with their kids, who are living meaningful lives here in Canada. Often, especially over the past two years, I have seen that there is a huge delay in how these super visas are being processed, wherever in the world they are being processed, and there is an impact on families. I have a constituent who recently went through a major surgery and she wanted her mom be here with her, but her visa had expired. She had applied for another super visa and waited and waited. The surgery came and the surgery went, and she still did not have a decision on her super visa.

That issue of private health insurance is a really big one. When and if we move this private member's bill into committee to study this issue further, I think we could really help constituents such as mine to be able to support their families here in Canada and be able to get the support they need, not only in terms of how they are operating but also how they are raising their kids, how they are doing their jobs and how they are taking care of their health and their well-being and also the health and well-being of their parents, who are trying to come to visit Canada on occasion.

It is really important to have the blessings, in my opinion, of our parents as we continue to grow, to evolve and to set down roots as first-generation immigrants here in Canada. Exploring how this bill can impact how we do that is important. I am hoping that we can explore this issue further in committee.

I am hoping that we can explore the issue of how private health insurance, especially international private health insurance, would impact the whole regime, the whole scheme of super visas here in Canada.

I am hoping we can explore how and what the impact of extending the time of the expiry of a super visa would have on constituents like mine in Mississauga—Erin Mills. I am also really hoping that we can explore and understand how delays happen and what the economic impacts and social impacts of those delays are on families in ridings like mine in Mississauga—Erin Mills. I am hoping we can explore how we can really expand, for example, the parents and grandparents sponsorship program, to make sure that Canadian families have the support that they need, not just in fulfilling the well-being of a family in a riding like mine but also understanding how important the social aspect of it really is.

I am a big believer in family. I know and understand and have benefited from having grandparents around as I grew up. I know my nephew and my niece benefit from having my parents around in how they are raised, and I can tell members that they are a lot sharper for it.

I am hoping that we can continue to improve our immigration system here in Canada to ensure the well-being of families in ridings like mine of Mississauga—Erin Mills, that we are raising our kids right, that we are providing that support that young families need in order to thrive and to survive as they go about their double-income households trying to manage life events such as unfortunate health instances. we need to try to ensure that we are finding that balance between the economy and society and making sure that our families are being raised right.

I am really hoping that the committee really digs deep into how we can really improve not only the temporary resident visa process but also the parents and grandparents sponsorship program, and I am hoping that the committee will hear from experts on the direct and indirect impact and how we can continue to improve that process.

Over the past number of years, we have been really digging deep into this question about parents and grandparents and the role that they play in Canadian families. Over the past year, we have had 10,000 people come and visit Canada through the parents and grandparents sponsorship program, despite COVID. The demand has never been higher. In my riding, it is a conversation that I have almost on a daily basis, regarding young families who want their parents to come and have that positive impact on the families they are raising here in Canada.

I think there is so much we can do with this. I think that there is so much that we can expand on, that we can tweak and fix, to ensure that families here in Canada are being well-protected and are being raised effectively while we fix the parents and grandparents sponsorship program and also the super visa program, which Bill C-242 would ensures.

I am really looking forward to continuing to watch this study of Bill C-242 and seeing how it will impact Canadian families, especially those in Mississauga—Erin Mills and first generation Canadians.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2022 / 6:05 p.m.
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Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if she is listening, but I must commend the member for Saint-Jean for the thorough job she has done. She gave a remarkable speech during the previous reading of this bill, which has greatly inspired my speech today. She was again inspiring today when she asked her question to the House and especially when she moved the motion about a woman's right to have free reign over her own body. Unfortunately, this motion was defeated, because some dinosaurs, primarily on the Conservative benches, voted against it. I think it is a disgrace, in the history of this country, to have voted against that motion. I hope that those who did will look at how they voted today. It proved to me that I am not truly Canadian. Today, in Quebec's National Assembly, a similar motion passed unanimously. Once again, that proved to me that Quebec is my country.

I will come back to the bill. I also want to commend the member for Dufferin—Caledon for his patience, as he has been waiting a number of months for his bill to move forward. To start, I will quickly explain what a super visa is, for those who are listening today. Basically, it is a visa, a travel document, designed for parents and grandparents. It does not permit the holder to work during their stay. It allows multiple entries of a period of up to two years. There are certain requirements, but the two most important ones are that the applicant must have medical insurance from a Canadian company and must prove that the child or grandchild who will be hosting them here has the financial capacity to support them. This means that there is a minimum income threshold that must be proven by the child or grandchild in order for the parent or grandparent to be issued the visa.

It will shock no one to hear that I am in favour of this bill.

For many families that want to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada, the logistics, paperwork and delays are an onerous and immense administrative burden. What these families often want is to sponsor their parents or grandparents and bring them here permanently. The super visa being considered provides the opportunity to have one's parents here while the sponsorship and permanent residence application is being processed. It is also another option for those not picked in the lottery.

That system is very restrictive. Few people manage to get a sponsorship application for parents or grandparents. I would like to add one thing: Right now, every time we check, the government has a backlog for almost all immigration programs.

It would be a good idea to fast-track and simplify the process for those who in all likelihood would receive a favourable decision. I think that would be all right.

The bill would also make some minor but specific changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. We know this will apply to a relatively small number of the temporary residence visas granted every year. We also know that, because they have temporary status, these immigrants will not end up costing the federal or provincial governments anything. Lastly, we know that the few thousand people granted the existing super visa are generally people of significant financial means. Applicants have proof of funds, and parents and grandparents have prepaid health insurance. In essence, they have to be financially secure. They pose no risk to anybody.

What exactly is a super visa? What will this bill change? Bill C‑242 makes four changes. First, visitors must purchase private health insurance outside Canada. Current eligibility criteria require applicants to purchase insurance from a Canadian company. Yesterday, I was talking about supply and demand in a previous speech, and it is the same idea. This could expand the pool of insurance companies, which will probably reduce insurance costs for super visa applicants.

As my colleague, the member for Saint-Jean, mentioned, all it takes is a quick search to see that this kind of insurance coverage is extremely expensive. For a young person in their forties with no known health issues, it can cost between $1,000 and $1,500. For people slightly older or with any health problems, insurance coverage can cost up to $6,000 or even $7,000 a year. For parents or grandparents, it can cost about $10,000 annually. This does not include all the costs associated with the immigration process.

As I said, yes, these people do have resources, but that is no reason to stop them from shopping around for insurance. Just because they have resources does not mean that they should not be able to shop around.

The bill requires that foreign insurance companies be accredited by the minister, which ensures that the company is legitimate and that its coverage is compatible with our health care systems.

By opening up the market to competition, we take away Canadian companies' monopoly on this type of insurance coverage. I am not an economist, but I have friends who are, and they confirm that I am right to believe this is a basic way to reduce the cost of coverage.

It will also allow some foreign nationals to combine this insurance coverage with a policy they already have for their home or vehicle. People might be able to save money, which, I imagine, could be used to settle here, buy goods and contribute to the economy.

What is more, Bill C‑242 extends the period of time a person can stay in Canada without having to renew the document from two years to five years. This would help minimize several current irritants. The super visa is a multiple-entry visa, and it is valid for a maximum of 10 years.

The number of round trips that parents and grandparents have to make between Canada and their country of origin increases airfare costs. This measure alone would be significantly reduce those costs.

As well, renewing the permit every two years very often requires a medical exam for the insurance premium. It is obvious that, over a total span of 10 years, the grandparents’ health could change, which could result in higher premiums and, more importantly, add some unpredictability to their stay in the country.

Going back to what I was saying, it is clear to me that as long as these people do not pose a financial risk to taxpayers, we should try to make life easier for them and their children who are hosting and taking care of them.

I mentioned earlier that these children, who are permanent residents or outright citizens, must have a minimum of financial means. Bill C-242 does not propose to reduce or abolish the requirement to prove that someone has the financial means to look after their parents or grandparents.

Instead, the bill proposes that the minister review the need to maintain the income requirement or threshold. Thanks to my colleague from Saint-Jean, I have learned that many people are talking about repealing it altogether. If the minister decides in the next two years to maintain this low income cut-off at its current level, he will have to explain why he wishes to keep it in place.

This bill is therefore not very compelling for parliamentarians. It seeks a review of the relevance of a legislative measure, something that I think is ultimately reasonable and commonly done.

When it comes to spousal sponsorships, Quebec does not even assess the spouses' financial capacity, and it nevertheless works very well.

The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration has already looked into something similar and made a recommendation regarding the sponsorship of parents and grandparents.

The study on this aspect could help determine whether this threshold is appropriate in different places across Canada. The cost of living is not the same everywhere, as we know. Could there be different sponsors depending on where the individuals will be living? I think this would be a positive thing.

It would also acknowledge the fact that many families see a positive financial impact when parents and grandparents come to stay with them, since it allows them to rejoin the job market.

I could go on at length, but as parliamentarians we have a duty to set partisanship aside and address our constituents' problems.

I want to reiterate that what happened today in the House of Commons with respect to the motion the member for Saint‑Jean tried to move is unacceptable and shameful for this Parliament. It just reinforced my belief that Canada is not my country. My country is Quebec.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2022 / 5:55 p.m.
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Orléans Ontario

Liberal

Marie-France Lalonde LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Dufferin—Caledon for his work on this legislation.

The government is firmly committed to reuniting families and their loved ones abroad. Family members are an important part of our immigration system.

Canada has one of the most generous and comprehensive family reunification programs in the world. Through this program, we help to keep families together and contribute to the integration of immigrants, who are an important part of the success of our communities across our country. Parents and grandparents want to visit their adult children and grandchildren. Likewise, Canadian citizens and permanent residents benefit from the support of their parents and grandparents.

Parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who wish to visit their family for a longer period can apply for a parent and grandparent super visa. This process is authorized through ministerial instructions.

The super visa is a multiple-entry visa that is valid for up to 10 years and allows for stays of up to two years at a time. Super visa holders may also request an extension of their stay for up to an additional two years while in Canada, and there are no limits on the number of extensions they can request.

Since the super visa allows for longer stays than a regular temporary resident visa, applicants must meet additional medical and financial criteria. These criteria include a medical exam, private medical insurance from a Canadian company and financial support from a child/grandchild host, who must meet an income cut-off minimum based on their family size.

These important safeguards are in place to ensure that this potentially vulnerable population has financial support and protection in the event of a medical emergency while in Canada.

They also ensure that there is no undue burden on the Canadian taxpayer through unpaid medical bills. This is particularly important, as demonstrated by our experience during the pandemic, when many health care systems across the country are strained. This private member's bill, Bill C-242, proposes to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to allow a parent or grandparent to stay in Canada for five years under the super visa and to purchase private health care insurance from outside Canada. It also requires the minister to table a report on reducing the income requirements that the child or grandchild must meet for the parent or grandparent to qualify for a super visa.

While the government supports many principles of Bill C-242, we have concerns that it would reduce our ability to ensure that parents and grandparents are arriving with adequate supports during their stay. We also continue to look out for the best interests of Canadian taxpayers.

First, the act is not the appropriate instrument to make program changes to super visa conditions. Parliament intended for the act to serve as framework legislation, which authorizes the making of regulations and ministerial instructions. As I stated, the super visa is authorized through these ministerial instructions. As such, we propose amendments to Bill C-242 to maintain the authority for super visa conditions under ministerial instructions. This would allow the government to respond quickly to the emerging needs of clients, rather than necessitating a lengthy legislative process.

The government supports the member's proposal to increase the length of stay per entry. However, we propose to extend this from the current two years to three. Once again, this would be changed through ministerial instructions. Since super visa holders already have the opportunity to extend their stay in Canada for up to two years, this means parents and grandparents could then stay in Canada for up to five years without needing to leave the country.

The government believes that increasing the length of stay any further would negate the spirit of the super visa, which is to support temporary residence in Canada. Increasing the length of stay beyond three years without needing to request an extension could lead to visitors establishing more permanent connections to Canada, and this would undermine the purpose of having a legal framework to address temporary residents.

The government does not support the member's proposal to allow super visa applicants to purchase private health insurance from foreign companies.

Private health insurance is required through a Canadian company, and this is to ensure super visa holders, who are a potentially vulnerable population, have sufficient and reliable medical insurance in case of a health emergency while in Canada. This is an important component of the super visa. The government believes that allowing super visa holders to purchase insurance from companies outside Canada could introduce various risks. Applicants might purchase coverage from unregulated or fraudulent providers, for example, and this could have devastating consequences to parents and grandparents, as well as for our health care system.

We have actually seen what can happen when parents and grandparents arrive on regular visas that do not require emergency medical insurance. We know of several cases when parents were visiting on a regular visitor visa and experienced a medical emergency, such as a stroke, during their stay. They did not have health insurance and incurred medical bills worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. These stories underscore the importance of ensuring that super visa holders are protected with appropriate health insurance during their visit.

I would like to also note that allowing super visa holders to obtain coverage from international health insurance providers, as proposed in the hon. member's bill, could pose significant complexities for the government to verify the coverage. To ensure the validity of foreign health care providers for coverage and billing purposes, IRCC would have to establish a complex and costly designation framework to establish pre-approved insurance options from abroad. With respect to Bill C-242's final proposal, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship commits to tabling a report to Parliament to review the current financial requirements for children or grandchildren.

While the Government supports a review of this requirement, I wish to underscore that we believe a financial requirement remains a necessary and important component of the super visa. While family reunification is an important part of our immigration system, it should not place undue financial burdens on Canadian taxpayers, and visitors should be adequately supported during their stay.

I will state once again that the super visa's minimum necessary income requirement is in place to ensure the host child or grandchild can provide for the basic requirements of their visiting family members while they are in Canada. This is also key to maintaining public support for the super visa, which facilitates longer stays of parents and grandparents.

The government is committed to family reunification. We must maintain an immigration system that meets the needs of Canadians if we want to take full advantage of this system.

The government believes the current conditions of the super visa adequately balance the interests of families that wish to reunite with their loved ones, as well as those of all Canadians, as it protects their hard-earned taxpayer services.

The super visa enables us to reunite families quickly and for longer periods. At the same time, the government is able to adequately manage the operations of this program under its current framework. For over a decade, the super visa has remained a popular and accessible option for Canadian citizens and permanent residents to reunite with their parents and grandparents, with approximately 17,000 super visas issued each year.

I believe it is a highly successful program by any measure. That being said, the government always remains open to finding ways to improve our programs and policies.

Although the government supports the spirit and intent of Bill C‑242, it will only support this bill with the proposed amendments. The goal is to ensure the integrity and long-term viability of the highly successful super visa program.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2022 / 5:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by congratulating the member for Dufferin—Caledon, a member of the Conservative caucus, for putting forward this bill. It is a bill that very much reflects Conservative Party values and emphasizes the importance of open and fair immigration. It is also a bill that is very pro-family. It recognizes the value of strong families and of families being able to spend time with each other, and the need to have creative measures that allow for families to spend time together.

What we really need to reflect on in terms of reforms to our immigration system is the value of family and extended family and how we can promote family connectedness so that people do not have to suffer through these processes and spending long periods of time away from close family members in the context of waiting for applications to be processed or in the case of other situations. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to that a bit today.

Specifically, the bill put forward, Bill C-242, by the member for Dufferin—Caledon, would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as follows:

to allow a parent or grandparent who applies for a temporary resident visa as a visitor to purchase private health insurance outside Canada and to stay in Canada for a period of five years.

It would also require the Minister of Immigration to prepare a report on possibly reducing the minimum income requirement for a child or grandchild. This recognizes the value of what is often called a “super visa”, supporting family members so they can be together and support each other.

A bit of context is important here. Very often, families are looking at sponsoring members of their immediate or extended family to come to Canada for permanent immigration. That is a valuable channel, but there are limits to it. There is an additional option, one that maybe reflects the desire of some family members who would like to come and stay for a long time in Canada but do not plan on permanently immigrating here. I believe it was a Conservative government that developed the idea of having a super visa program as an additional channel for people. The super visa is for people who are not immigrating permanently to Canada but would simply like to come here, be with family members, like children and grandchildren, and spend extended periods of time with them.

As a condition, those who come are expected to purchase private health care and are therefore not relying on the public system. This is very reasonable. We should not stick ourselves in this binary of saying that either people do not come or they come and immediately have all the social services associated with someone who has a permanent presence in Canada. Instead, we can create mechanisms that allow people to come and spend significant amounts of time in Canada with family members, while paying privately for insurance. At the same time, we should look to make these channels more accessible and more reasonable so that more people can take advantage of these opportunities to be together as a family.

The super visa program is a very good program and a very popular program, and for those who are able to fit into this stream, it really achieves the best of all possible worlds. It is beneficial to Canadian society to have these folks come and be with family members and provide various kinds of support to their families. Also, again, it recognizes the fact that there are some limits in the permanent immigration stream regarding parents and grandparents. It strengthens this particular stream and allows those who may not wish to be here permanently to nonetheless come and be present in and supportive of their families.

Needless to say, the value of extended families is well known, I think, to all Canadians. For many cultural communities, there is a particular recognition of and appreciation for the role being played by extended family members. As I give this speech now, I have five children at home, and I am very glad that my mother-in-law is able to visit and play such a key supportive role in our family. That enables me to travel and enables my wife to do all the things she does. For newcomers to Canada who do not have the benefit of grandparents being here in Canada, that can create some really significant challenges.

Having that super visa channel available and extending it to five years, making it more accessible and making it easier for people to make those health care insurance purchases by giving them a broader range of options of who they can purchase from, makes that transition so much easier for people who are living and working here in Canada. This is really designed to ease that process. Again, it reflects a Conservative understanding of the value of family connections, both within the idea of a nuclear or immediate family, but also within the extended family and the supports that are provided there.

This is an excellent bill, but there are many more things that the government needs to do, and that Conservatives are calling on the government to do, to address the unnecessary pressures on families that are associated with our immigration system right now.

One of the main complaints we are hearing in our offices is the strain that is created for families by backlogs. The fact is that across a broad range of immigration categories, there are huge delays, and this forces families to be apart from each other for much longer than they should be. The idea that people have to wait years, for instance, to have a spouse come to Canada, or that they have to wait years for other members of their families or for caregivers to come to Canada who meet all the requirements and are very much needed, is an issue that we need to really get to the bottom of.

This affects the issue of refugee sponsorship as well. The delay, I think, is three years for private refugee sponsorship, so Canadian community groups, church groups and others who are waiting to sponsor vulnerable refugees have to wait for a three-year period. It may be that those refugees are in a vulnerable situation: they may be in need of ongoing financial support where they are or their security may be in question, yet they are sitting and waiting while the Canadian sponsors are sitting and waiting for that long processing delay. Those lengthy delays are simply unacceptable, and they require urgent action by the government and by all of us.

In our last concern of the election platform, I was very proud of some of the concrete proposals that Conservatives put forward in terms of expediting, processing and addressing the long backlogs. Of course, the adjudication process is critically important, but it needs to be timely. It is always tragic when families are forced to be apart for years for no reason other than bureaucratic delay, so we need to do much better. The government needs to do much better in terms of ensuring a lean, effective and results-driven immigration system. We all see these frustrations in our offices right now, and this is why we have really been pushing forward on the issue of backlogs across the range of categories.

As well, my colleague for Dufferin—Caledon gave notice of motion at the immigration committee today on a motion to call for addressing the backlogs in citizenship applications, which is a different issue from immigration applications. There are various elections coming up in different parts of the country. Here in Ontario, there is going to be a provincial election relatively soon, and people who would otherwise be eligible for their citizenship and would participate in that election are waiting in longer and longer queues to get their citizenship applications processed. It is not just on the front of families being together, but it is on other fronts, such as people being able to exercise their democratic rights and other things where the issue of delays, inefficiencies and backlogs within the immigration system has concrete negative effects for families. We put forward some concrete proposals in our last election platform around addressing this. I think it is very important.

I will conclude by congratulating the member for Dufferin—Caledon and recognizing the work that he is doing in trying to strengthen and make more accessible the super visa program. This very much aligns with our vision of a family-friendly immigration policy: one that recognizes the value of strong families and of families being able to be together.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2022 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Blake Desjarlais NDP Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today in support of Bill C-242. I would like to thank the member for Dufferin—Caledon for bringing it forward as a crucial step in reuniting new Canadians and refugees with their families.

Separation of families, parents and children, or grandparents and children is often a by-product of Canada's deeply broken immigration system. It is something we are all very much aware of. In the past few years, with the COVID pandemic and many humanitarian crises around the world, we have witnessed disturbing trends with regard to the functioning of our much-needed immigration system, whether it is the thousands of refugee applications pending as people face imminent danger in their home countries, or the backlogs or strict restrictions for temporary resident visas for parents and grandparents that prevent the reunification of families.

I am deeply disheartened by the effects that these delays and restrictions have had on real people: families and individuals who are simply seeking peace. I know first-hand the devastating effects of not being able to be with loved ones. Canada has a history of separating families, and particularly indigenous families. Let us not repeat and continue this legacy.

Families should not have to go through long and very difficult ordeals just to be together. Families are an important and critical aspect of how we understand our quality of life, and when we do not have our children, our parents or our grandparents with us, especially after a very difficult life, where does the healing begin?

New Democrats strongly support making family reunification processes easier so that people can reunite with their loved ones. It is critical. I am positive that the measures contained within this bill would help to fill some of the gaps, such as the increase in the length of time, for example, that a temporary resident can stay in Canada while visiting their child or grandchild. It would raise the cap from two years to five years. The reduction of the minimum income requirement is also a helpful course of action. These are real, tangible solutions.

However, I recognize that this bill is simply a short-term solution to a deeply seated problem in our immigration system. For years, Liberal and Conservative governments have made grave errors in the way temporary foreign visas and the parent-grandparent sponsorship program applications are processed. During the Harper government, for example, in 2011, records that were found through access to information requests demonstrated that over 150,000 applications were ultimately denied, and these were all contained within a backlog.

The government at the time then doubled down and created a restriction for further applications to limit the wait. It refused to learn from previous mistakes and made matters worse. The two-year moratorium on applications created a massive backlog that families are still reeling from today.

Then, the Liberal government promised voters a reformed, streamlined immigration process to fix decades or years of pain. It went on to introduce an arbitrary lottery system that made the parent-grandparent sponsorship program the only immigration stream in Canada based on a lucky draw. This meant that a random selection system determined the fate of thousands of families while throwing out many of the applications because they did not pre-screen for eligibility.

Clearly, this system failed horribly. It was replaced by a first-come, first-served basis. This process took eight minutes to fill to capacity, disadvantaging many others who were unable to attain an online connection because they did not have the technology, such as a cellphone or computer, in their place of origin to file online.

What happened to the many applications that were unable to get in by the first-come, first-served basis? They waited. The families waited. In fact, at the time of this program and the first-come, first-served debacle, 70 families filed a lawsuit because they were unable to get the application in time. The government quietly settled that. The government proposed a visa application process that continues to remain inaccessible and to cause deep hardship to deserving families. It is an unfortunate reality continuing to be faced by thousands in our country.

In my constituency of Edmonton Griesbach, we are home to many new Canadians, refugees and immigrants who have waited a long time to come to safety, to seek refuge and peace, and to seek a new way and a new life. They finally have a chance to breathe, to catch up with loved ones and make up the lost time due to crisis and international conflict. It is something that will take many supports and much family to heal.

I know personally of a constituent in my community who has been in Canada for over 10 years. This whole time, his family has been stuck in South Sudan. When the situation got too difficult in South Sudan, their family had to flee to Egypt, where they continued to wait for their family to be able to sponsor them to bring them here. He was separated from his wife and children.

He applied and fortunately the application for his wife went well. The application for the three children, however, did not. As South Sudanese people are not issued a birth certificate at birth, he had to obtain them through a separate process all together. The visa officer, however, did not consider their certificates to be valid and the children's eligibility was not approved. They were asked for DNA testing. The embassy refused to help with this.

Finally, the mother, in order to satisfy the permanent resident request, did have to come to Canada, but that meant leaving three of her children behind. Those three children are ages four, eight and 12. They are now expected to find some way to figure out DNA testing all by themselves, while also simultaneously not having a birth certificate that is recognized. How is a four year old supposed to do that? It is devastating and heartbreaking.

Another constituent of mine is a Syrian refugee. His wife and one of his kids are in Canada. However, his 12-year-old daughter is stuck in Saudi Arabia by herself. One son is stuck in Turkey. Both kids have deep mental health breakdowns and hardships every single day. There is nothing wrong with their applications, but the processing time is literally killing them. This time away from family and away from loved ones can leave scars that last a lifetime.

Again, I would like to further recommend that the government address the long-standing failures of IRCC as a department and reallocate funds for other streams in order to reduce the backlog. I want to conclude by thanking my hon. colleague for tabling this critical, shortstop measure, which would reunite families and save lives. I look forward to hearing my colleagues' speeches.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2022 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Bloc

René Villemure Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be able to comment on the bill introduced by the member for Dufferin—Caledon, Bill C‑242, an act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act regarding temporary resident visas for parents and grandparents.

This bill would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by making a number of specific changes. I know these changes may seem quite minor in theory, but despite its modest appearance, the bill will bring about major changes for many families in Quebec and Canada.

Before I begin, I would like to put things in context. In my riding, Trois-Rivières, an organization called La Maison des Grands-Parents celebrated its 20th anniversary yesterday. The connection to Bill C‑242 is that, for the past 20 years, La Maison des Grands-Parents has been a place for civic engagement, a place where senior volunteers strive to make life better for the children and families they work with. By sharing their knowledge, these volunteers cultivate a meaningful intergenerational connection and contribute to the well-being of their community. I would actually like to take this opportunity to acknowledge all the volunteers as well as board chair Éliane Touchette.

Having said that, I want to say that it is impossible to be unmoved by the member for Dufferin—Caledon's bill. This bill makes very significant changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Bill C‑242 will make it easier for parents and grandparents to immigrate if they are sponsored by a child or grandchild who is a permanent resident or citizen of Canada. Since they have temporary status, these immigrants do not cost the government anything. Furthermore, although I do not have precise statistics on the number of super visas issued per year, we know that there are fewer than 20,000 nationwide. This represents a fairly marginal proportion of 1% to 2%. For the years 2017, 2018, and 2019, about 1.6 million, 1.9 million, and 1.7 million temporary resident visas were issued annually.

Moreover, the few thousand people who currently qualify for a super visa are generally people of considerable means. Both the children in Canada and the parents who come over are financially secure.

However, what can the less well off do?

First off, allow me to clarify a few things. It is not possible to exist in society without creating ties or links. The word “link” comes from the Latin word ligare, meaning to encircle or surround. Links imply proximity, meaning nearness. Back when the word “religion” was invented, it was a combination of “re-” and “ligare”, or re-link. It always comes back to proximity.

There is also the word “reliance”, which we hear a lot about these days. It refers to creating links between people or systems. “Reliance” is a psychosocial need to break out of isolation. No one wants to be alone in the world. We all need family in order to know who we are.

When we talk about parents and grandparents, we are talking about blood ties, filial relationships, an emotional and moral connection that is impossible to deny. Victor Hugo once said, “There is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson”.

Obviously, a bill is not a simple thing. The Department of Immigration sometimes provides a practical illustration of boundless Kafkaesque absurdity. There needs to be a framework to ensure that the purpose of the bill is achieved and that the people it is meant to serve can benefit from it.

Beyond giving families the chance to obtain permanent residency, there are many socio‑economic benefits to the bill. Having grandparents around will allow parents to dispense with child care for a few moments or even free parents from having to pay for child care. In that sense, the arrival of family members allows working-age immigrants to fully participate in the workforce and in the Quebec and Canadian economy.

It is estimated that between 38% and 50% of children under six will have an immigrant background by 2036, so the availability of child care options for the parents of these children will be all the more important. A number of studies are highlighting the socio‑economic difficulties often associated with this new start for families. It seems pretty clear to me that bringing parents and grandparents over will make life easier for many of our fellow citizens who have immigrated here.

This will give the entire reunited family more quality time together.

However, it concerns me when I read that immigrant parents are currently less likely to use child care services less than non-immigrant parents.

Bill C-242 aims to address this by providing alternatives to paid child care, which will be beneficial for immigrant families.

Quebec has a public child care system that is a source of pride. It is an accessible service that was established in 1997, and it remains just as relevant and useful today as it ever was. This service enables women in particular to enter or return to the labour market.

We need as many workers as we can get. No one should be left behind. Neither Quebec nor Canada can afford to lose talent. We know that many immigrant parents do not use child care services because they are too expensive. Although the changes brought about by Bill C‑242 will affect only a small portion of the immigrants entering Quebec and Canada each year, if this bill can help create alternatives to paid child care for immigrant families, it will be worth it.

I want to ask the following question in a broader sense. What is keeping us from moving forward? What is keeping us from doing for immigrant families what the Maison des Grands‑Parents does for the people of Trois‑Rivières? Nothing, absolutely nothing is keeping us from doing better.

To be human is to share the world with others. No one wants to be alone. We all want to find our family, those with whom we share a common origin. We must break the isolation. Let us rebuild the link that has been broken by circumstances.

I confirm that the Bloc Québécois will support Bill C‑242 introduced by the member for Dufferin—Caledon.

The House resumed from March 1 consideration of the motion that Bill C‑242, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (temporary resident visas for parents and grandparents), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Reuniting Families ActPrivate Members' Business

March 1st, 2022 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-242. The process of introducing private members' legislation in the House is very important. It is an opportunity for individual members to bring forward ideas and concepts that they feel are important to put before the 338 members of Parliament, and I applaud the member for bringing forward something he is quite passionate about.

I will say right off the bat that I take great exception to some of what I heard, especially in the last speech by the Conservative member. I recognize that the member who introduced this bill was around during the Stephen Harper government and is fully aware of what was going on at the time. I respect the fact that he tried to stray from referring too much to those days, but the member for Calgary Forest Lawn made a number of outrageous claims, in my opinion, one of which was about a Liberal-made backlog. This is coming from the Conservative Party that previously said the family reunification application system was a six-year wait. Why was that? It was—

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-242, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (temporary resident visas for parents and grandparents), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

March 1st, 2022 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jasraj Singh Hallan Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Madam Speaker, it is my absolute pleasure to rise today and speak to Bill C-242. I want to thank my hon. colleague from Dufferin—Caledon for bringing forward this bill and addressing a very important issue for many families and ethnic communities all across Canada.

This is a very practical and compassionate bill that many have talked about and many people have emailed and called about. Again, I want to thank my colleague from Dufferin—Caledon for bringing this bill forward.

The previous Conservative government brought in the super visa to offer parents and grandparents the opportunity to visit their family on an extended basis. It was a way for families to reunite faster than going through the bureaucratic process of family sponsorship. This is a challenge that many Canadians with family abroad unfortunately face today. As the Liberal-made backlog continues to grow, family sponsorship is less of an option.

Family is very important to all of us. I especially feel that in my own community. That is why I am happy to see that these proposed amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to expand access to super visas for families looking to finally come to Canada and see their loved ones.

Family reunification is a concern I hear a lot about in my office, but unfortunately, as the Liberal-made backlog continues to grow, family sponsorship is taking forever. As a result, many grandparents and parents miss out on the milestone moments in their grandchildren's and children's lives. There are missed births, graduations, weddings, first steps. Many milestones get missed, all because of the Liberal-made backlog in immigration.

In my riding, many permanent residents and new Canadians have been waiting, even before the pandemic, to see their families come to Canada. Their family sponsorship cases are caught up in the backlog and they have not received any idea as to when their family members will finally get a decision for their applications.

Mental health is also hit by family separation. All of us experienced the pressure that COVID put on our mental well-being. So many families were stuck waiting for their parents and grandparents as IRCC made excuses about why they could not process those cases. As suicide and addiction rates continue to rise, the effects of family separation and backlogs need to be addressed.

Over the past couple of years, we have all felt the impact of the pandemic and being cut off from travel with our loved ones. As provinces begin to open up and international travel gets easier, reconnecting with family will be very important, especially for Canadians and permanent residents who have parents and grandparents abroad.

The super visa pathway is an opportunity to get past the Liberal-made backlog, help people get to a better place mentally and not miss the important moments in life. That is why the amount of time that a person's super visa is valid should be extended to five years.

Extending the length of time a family can spend together with a super visa has become important for another reason: affordability. This remains a problem for everyone in Canada. As inflation rises, it becomes more challenging to travel to Canada, to visit and to stay here.

My office hears about the cost of health insurance for people on temporary visas and super visas. As the law stands now, temporary residents can only purchase Canadian health insurance, and super visa applicants are required to have it before entering Canada. Unfortunately, this insurance is not always accessible or affordable for people who live abroad. In today's era of technology and high-speed communication, allowing for affordable foreign options for health insurance makes sense for parents and grandparents coming to visit their loved ones in Canada.

Another point I want to raise on the issue of affordability is that super visas are important for providing child care. We all know that grandparents and parents are the best babysitters, and no day care can beat that. Canadians and permanent residents who do not have family here can benefit from having their parents and grandparents close to them. Super visas are a great way to bring family from abroad to support working parents. Giving families that flexibility is also good for economic growth in Canada. It allows parents to work and contribute to the economy.

With this historic backlog at IRCC, one stream that has taken a hit is the caregiver program. Constituents and people across the country are contacting my office, upset with the lack of access to newcomers coming through the caregiver program and how long it takes for anyone to have their application processed. The backlog for this immigration stream, as of February 1, was 16,085 people. That is up from 12,539 people in December.

These are not just applications or numbers. These are families, families that are hurt by this backlog, that need to be reunited to help their mental health as well.

By extending the super visa to five years and making it more accessible, parents and grandparents abroad can come and help fill the demand for at-home child caregivers by supporting their own families.

Bill C-242 also asks the minister to study the minimum income levels currently required for applicants to come to Canada under the super visa. The reality is that we know parents and grandparents living with their family are not a burden on our economy or our country. They help grow it, as families spend more on groceries and family activities, and working parents can go to work knowing their kids are in good hands.

The minimum income levels are an issue today, as inflation and supply chain issues affect the cost of groceries and other essentials such as gas and electricity. While “Justinflation” is hitting people's pocketbooks hard, now is an excellent time to show compassion and review the minimum income requirement. It was often those workers here in Canada who were in health care, transportation and processing plants who were hit the hardest when it came to COVID. It would have been a great tool for them to have their parents or grandparents here to support them at home, mentally, with their kids or whenever they were going through a tough time. This new bill is very practical, and it would help Canadians in all facets.

The super visa can also be a pathway for those people fleeing the violence caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Looking at the special immigration measures the IRCC has for Ukraine, I see an approach that could leave many people in limbo. The unprovoked attack by Russia has left over a million Ukrainian people displaced. The United Nations estimates roughly 500,000 people have gone to neighbouring countries for safety. Canada cannot let the chaos and lack of communication that led to the failure of the Afghanistan evacuation be repeated in Ukraine.

As our European and NATO allies take in Ukrainians, many people want to come here. Our country has a strong and long-standing connection with the people of Ukraine. Over a million Canadians are of Ukrainian heritage and thousands still have family there. By making the super visa more accessible and affordable for parents and grandparents fleeing the violence, Canada could do its part to get friends and family out of harm's way.

This bill shows how needed reforms are for Canada's immigration system. In the 21st century, our system needs to be smart, compassionate and efficient. Newcomers and their families deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not as a number that can be left in the backlog the Liberal government created. I hope that all of my colleagues here in the House can see the importance of making these changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

This is an opportunity to provide a more accessible and affordable pathway for parents and grandparents looking to reunite with their loved ones here in Canada. Again, I want to thank my friend and colleague, the member for Dufferin—Caledon, for bringing this bill forward. I urge all members to support Bill C-242.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

March 1st, 2022 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Christine Normandin Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-242, because not only was I a member of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, as the member for Winnipeg North mentioned, but, as a lawyer in my previous practice, I worked with families who wanted to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada.

In working with these families, I saw to what extent the logistics, red tape and delays were an onerous administrative burden. What these families often wanted was to sponsor their parents or grandparents and bring them here permanently.

In that context, not only does the super visa provide the opportunity to have one's parents here while the sponsorship and permanent residence application is being processed, but it is another option for those not picked in the lottery. The lottery system is very restrictive, and few people manage to get chosen to submit a sponsorship application for parents and grandparents. The super visa is therefore a useful option.

Given the administrative burden of immigration procedures, I am very much in favour of the opportunity to make them less onerous. What is a super visa? What do we want to change?

The super visa is valid for 10 years. It does not permit the holder to work during their stay. It allows multiple entries over a period of up to two years. It requires the applicant to have medical insurance from a Canadian company that is valid for at least one year from the time of entry. Lastly, it requires the applicant to prove that the child or grandchild who will be hosting them here has the financial capacity to support them. This means that there is a minimum income threshold that must be proven by the child or grandchild in order for the parent or grandparent to be issued the visa.

The member for Dufferin—Caledon’s bill addresses the last three points that I mentioned. Before I get into the details of the bill, I want to say at the outset that my Bloc colleagues and I will be supporting the bill.

The bill has a relatively limited and minor impact on the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. It does not put a burden on the government, because we are talking about temporary status. There is no service or financial aspect to making this application for parents or grandparents. It accounts for a very small number of the temporary residence permits that are issued. Year in and year out, of the 1.6 million or 1.9 million applications, about 20,000 are for a super visa. This represents about 1% to 2% of applications. The impact on Canada is relatively small, but the positive effects on families are major. In light of this, it is important to support the bill.

One of the legislative amendments proposed in the bill would allow individuals to purchase health insurance from insurance companies outside Canada. The length of stay allowed would be increased from two years to five years. The bill also requires that the minister conduct a new review of the minimum income requirement to obtain a visa for a parent or grandparent.

Existing legislation requires that individuals have valid insurance coverage for at least one year from the date of entry. This insurance must cover at least $100,000 and be obtained from a Canadian provider. This is set out in the legislation. Some basic research shows that this type of insurance is very expensive. For someone relatively young, in their 40s, without any pre-existing health conditions, it would cost around $1,000 to $1,500. For someone who is a little older or who has some pre-existing health conditions, that kind of coverage can cost up to $6,000 to $7,000 a year. For a couple, that is $12,000 a year, on top of the other fees associated with immigration.

By opening things up to competition, we take away Canadian companies' monopoly on this type of insurance coverage. We also hope it will reduce the cost of coverage. It will also allow some foreign nationals to combine this insurance coverage with a policy they already have for their home or auto. People might be able to save money.

This bill also ensures that there will be no problem harmonizing insurance coverage and claims for hospitals, for example, because the insurance companies will have to be pre-approved by the minister. We can expect a study on the possibility of submitting claims to these approved insurance companies.

The second point the bill covers is extending the stay from two years to five years. This would limit the number of return trips parents and grandparents have to make between Canada and their home country for the duration of the super visa. Those plane tickets cost money. This measure alone will significantly reduce costs.

The two-year permit has to get renewed. The person has to have another medical exam to get the insurance premium. It is therefore possible that during the 10‑year period there is a change in health status, and consequently an increase in the premium, which potentially makes it harder for some parents and grandparents to get their coverage.

I did not mention that the visa also came with the requirement to submit to a medical exam. If it has to be renewed every two years, the person is a little more vulnerable. There is less predictability with respect to eligibility.

Finally, with respect to the low-income cut-off, the evidence of being on fairly solid financial ground to welcome one's parents or grandparents, the bill does not propose lowering or eliminating it. It proposes that the minister conduct a study on the need to keep the cut-off at the same level or just maintain it, full stop. That being said, many people are talking about repealing it outright. In the event that the minister, within a period of two years, wishes to keep the low-income cut-off where it is, he will have to explain why.

This is not a very compelling bill for parliamentarians in that regard. It seeks a review of the relevance of a legislative measure, something that it seems to me is always seen in a positive light.

I would like to mention that the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration already looked into something similar and made a recommendation regarding the sponsorship of parents and grandparents. The committee stated, and I quote:

That Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada allow the income requirements for the parent and grandparent sponsorship program to be the minimum necessary income equal to the low-income cut-off established by Statistics Canada for the years impacted by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, conducting a yearly review to determine whether to extend allowing the minimum necessary income to be equivalent to the low-income cut-off, all while respecting Quebec’s jurisdiction.

That raises another issue. In some cases, in a recession year, for example, people may find that they are no longer eligible for a visa simply for reasons that are beyond their control. It would be a good idea to look into that.

In passing, I want to mention that, when it comes to spousal sponsorships, Quebec does not even assess the spouses' financial capacity, and it works very well.

The study on this aspect could help determine whether this threshold is appropriate in different places across Canada. The cost of living is not the same everywhere, as we know. Could there be different sponsors depending on where the individuals will be living? That would be a positive and would also acknowledge the fact that many families see a positive financial impact when parents and grandparents come, since it allows them to rejoin the job market.

For all of these good reasons, we suggest that the bill be supported.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

March 1st, 2022 / 5:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kyle Seeback Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

moved that Bill C-242, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (temporary resident visas for parents and grandparents), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I rise today to talk about a bill that I think is going to make a dramatic difference in the lives of many Canadian families.

In 2011, our Conservative government brought in the super visa. The super visa is a 10-year, multiple-entry visa that allows families to reunite with parents and grandparents. They were allowed to stay for two years over 10, and there were certain conditions with respect to that visa. They had to undergo a medical exam and be admissible on medical grounds. They had to have provided satisfactory evidence of private medical insurance, and the host child or grandchild had to have certain financial means in order for the parent or grandparent to qualify to come to Canada and be eligible for the super visa.

This has been a fantastic tool for families to reunite in Canada over the past 11 years. It is one of the things I am very proud of, as I was part of the government that brought that in. What we have learned over the past 11 years, however, is that this is something that could be improved. In fact, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration studied this in 2016 and heard from stakeholders about the challenges that exist with the super visa.

My bill would do three things. Number one, it would extend the time that a parent or grandparent could stay in Canada from two to five years, which is going to be an incredible benefit to families. Imagine being able to have a parent or grandparent there for five months every year over 10 years, to spend time with a person and their children. This would make things so much better for Canadian families.

Number two, the issue of health insurance has been brought up. It is costly. The bill would address that. It would allow for the purchase of insurance from outside of Canada, as approved by the minister.

Number three, the bill would require the minister and the government to prepare a report on reducing the minimum income requirement that a child or grandchild of a foreign national must meet.

I am going to go into the importance of these improvements, and why the bill is going to mean so much for Canadian families. Health care and private health insurance can be enormously costly for families and can range up to $5,000 per year. In addition, families are looking at paying for the cost of a flight back and forth. This was clearly heard in the evidence that was brought before the committee.

What we have to point out is that someone has to be medically admissible before they are eligible for the super visa. That health check has to be provided as a precondition to the super visa being issued. We are not talking about people who have health care, health conditions and health concerns. By allowing insurance from other countries, this will lower the cost of insurance.

I believe this, because I believe that competition is a good thing. If one can purchase insurance from an American insurance company, a British insurance company or an Indian insurance company, and the list goes on and on, this will create competition for Canadian insurance companies and it is going to lower the cost to these families.

Some will say that maybe this could be an insurance company that would not pay. That is why I have included a safeguard in the bill. It is as approved by the minister, so insurance companies that say they want to be eligible to provide their products to this could make a submission to the minister. The minister has the capacity, the skill and the knowledge to ensure that this is an insurance company that would be able to pay for any health claims that are made while in Canada.

The bill would lower the cost of insurance for those trying to use the super visa, and we have a safeguard in place that would make sure that no health care system or health care provider in the country would be left with an unpaid claim.

The other issue is the income part of this: the low-income cut-off. This is a challenge, especially for new Canadian families, when they are struggling to actually build the lives that they wanted to build in this country.

They may be working in jobs that do not pay a lot. They work very hard, and with the income test as it is, many Canadian families are excluded from being able to apply because they are not going to meet that income test.

When I think about this, I think what the extra cost would be if my parents came to stay with me for five months. We can debate whether or not I would want my parents to come and stay with me for five months, but that is of course a different topic. Many people do want that, but there really is not a significant cost involved in that. It is not a cost that would require a family to somehow become financially insecure or financially unable to meet their obligations.

The income test itself does not make sense to me, which is why the bill would require the government to table, within one year, a plan to lower the low-income cut-off and the income required. There may be some criticism of that, saying we may therefore have problems. That is actually not what the committee study showed in 2016. What we saw in the evidence presented at committee was that having a parent or grandparent come and stay with family was actually a boon, in an economic sense. Those parents sometimes were able to provide extra child care, so the family could take an extra shift or maybe work some overtime, and their economic situation actually improved.

It is kind of the opposite of what we think, or the perception being put forward of the low-income cut-off: that somehow this is going to be detrimental to the family. When we look at how this will expand opportunities for families, we have to consider how important it is for families to be able to reunite with their parents and grandparents, so that children can spend time with their grandparents. There are important lessons we learn from our grandparents and having them as part of our families.

In many communities across Canada, there are multi-generational homes where having the parents and grandparents there is an important cultural aspect of life. Why are we limiting this on the assumption that somehow having our parents or grandparents come and stay with us for a few months is some kind of financial burden?

I talked to communities all across this country before I introduced the bill. This has been unanimously approved by them. They are excited about the prospect of having their loved ones be able to come to Canada for a longer period of time. They are excited that health insurance costs would be reduced to make it more affordable, and they are more than excited that by lowering the low-income cut-off, more families are going to be eligible for the super visa.

I am encouraging my colleagues from the government to support this bill. This will be good for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. I look forward to questions from the members opposite, and I hope I will have their support to pass the bill.