Reuniting Families Act

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


Kyle Seeback  Conservative

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


In committee (Senate), as of Dec. 14, 2022

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


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends 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.
It also requires the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to prepare and table a report in respect of a reduction to the minimum income requirement that the child or grandchild must meet in order for the visiting parent or grandparent to be able to enter and remain in Canada for an extended period.


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.


Oct. 26, 2022 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-242, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (temporary resident visas for parents and grandparents)
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)

Reuniting Families ActPrivate Members' Business

October 26th, 2022 / 4:10 p.m.
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The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C‑242 under Private Members' Business.

The House resumed from October 24 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 third time and passed.

Reuniting Families ActPrivate Members' Business

October 24th, 2022 / 11:30 a.m.
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Mario Beaulieu Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C‑242 makes minor, very specific changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The bill seeks to make it easier for a child or grandchild with temporary resident status or citizenship to bring in sponsored parents and grandparents. It amends certain specific super visa eligibility criteria.

The super visa was introduced in 2011 under the Conservatives. It is a visa that allows multiple entries and is valid for a maximum of 10 years. It allows parents and grandparents to enter Quebec and Canada and visit their family under a temporary visa for two years without having to renew their status. A regular visa for multiple entries is also valid for a maximum of 10 years, but it allows a maximum stay of six months each time.

I do not have precise statistics on the number of super visas issued per year, but we know that there are fewer than 20,000 issued nationwide every year. This represents a fairly marginal proportion of 1% to 2% of the 1.7 million temporary resident visas issued annually from 2017 to 2019.

The super visa has allowed thousands of parents and grandparents from abroad to come to Canada for extended periods, which benefits the families not only socially, but also economically. For example, by being in Quebec, those parents and grandparents can help care for young children, allowing working-age immigrants and citizens to fully participate in the labour force and the economy.

Having them here saves parents from paying for child care. Studies show that immigrant parents are less likely than non-immigrant parents to pay for child care in order to go to work. Sometimes, these families simply cannot afford child care.

It is well known that immigrant women are particularly likely to be underemployed for their level of education. Faced with a choice between accepting low-paying work for which they are overqualified and staying home with the children, many immigrant mothers choose to stay home and save on child care costs.

It is worth noting that the difference in the use of child care services between immigrant and non-immigrant families is not statistically significant in Quebec, which has had a universal public child care system since 1997.

As one study found, it is women who usually assume the additional responsibilities of child care. Bill C-242 is therefore more likely to have a positive impact on the social and professional lives of immigrant women.

Since they have temporary status, these super visa immigrants cost the government little or nothing. One of the eligibility criteria for the super visa is that the person sponsoring their parents or grandparents must provide a letter that includes a promise of financial support.

A child or grandchild who invites their parent or grandparents to come to Canada must prove that their household meets the minimum necessary income. Applicants for the super visa must have medical insurance from a Canadian insurance company and must provide proof that the medical insurance has been paid.

The obligation to provide proof of medical insurance reduces the likelihood of any potential demands on the health care system or social services funded by Quebec and Canadian taxpayers. The insurance also protects the parents and grandparents, who will not be taking any risks and will not have to pay the total cost of medical care out of pocket.

As with any temporary immigration document, applicants must prove that they will voluntarily leave Canada at the end of their visit. Contrary to what we may infer from all the financial restrictions that the government has put on this super visa, having a parent or grandparent come here does not pose an additional financial burden. It is just the opposite. Having a family member provide child care allows parents to spend more time working, freeing them up to take additional shifts, for instance.

Studies also show that parents and grandparents who are invited under the super visa program or sponsored under the parents and grandparents program help their immigrant children remain in or join the labour market. Having a grandparent at home can also enable parents to accept jobs with irregular hours that fall outside child care hours.

Bill C-242 seeks to facilitate the arrival of these parents or grandparents by amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in four concrete ways. First, it allows applicants for a temporary resident super visa to purchase private health insurance from an insurance company outside Canada. Based on the law of supply and demand, it is possible that, over the long term, Canadian insurance companies may lower their own insurance premiums and contributions for temporary immigrants.

Second, it extends the maximum stay in Canada to five years instead of two, without requiring the document to be renewed.

Third, the bill also requires the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to prepare and table a report assessing the implications of a reduction to the minimum income requirement, again to facilitate the arrival of parents or grandparents by reducing the financial restrictions associated with applying.

Fourth, the super visa currently allows eligible Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their parents and grandparents so that they in turn can obtain permanent residence. Basically, this program operates like a lottery.

By extending the validity of the temporary resident visa from two years to five, Bill C‑242 gives these families three extra years to improve their chances of obtaining permanent residence for their parents or grandparents.

Bill C‑242 is particularly relevant in light of the labour shortage happening in Quebec and everywhere else. That labour shortage is exacerbated by a shortage of child care spaces.

The Fédération des intervenantes en petite enfance du Québec, a Quebec organization representing child care providers, says that there is a need for 75,000 regulated, subsidized spaces.

This shortage has considerable economic impacts: Seventy per cent of SMEs say they are having human resource management issues directly related to a lack of child care spaces.

Bill C‑242 does not deal so much with the issue of the quantity of immigration as the quality and fairness of the immigration process. It is consistent with the concept of looking after new immigrants rather than feeding a machine designed to receive large numbers of immigrants with no regard for their integration into the host society.

As we know, the process of adapting and transitioning into a new society is often tumultuous and rife with challenges, particularly in terms of the language and culture of the host country, difficulty finding a job, a lack of social support and all the material sacrifices caused by arriving in a new country.

Bill C‑242 could therefore make things easier and allow new immigrants to have more time, for example, to properly integrate into the host society, learn the French language, look for work and improve their living conditions.

For all these reasons, the Bloc Québécois will support Bill C‑242.

Reuniting Families ActPrivate Members' Business

October 24th, 2022 / 11:15 a.m.
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Vimy Québec


Annie Koutrakis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in the House in support of Bill C-242, which seeks to improve the super visa for parents or grandparents visiting their families in Canada for extended periods of time.

I want to thank the member for Dufferin—Caledon for introducing this bill. I also want to thank all the committee members, who have been working to improve family reunification, for their co-operation.

Family reunification has always been a top priority for the government. That is why our government has always supported the principles of Bill C-242, reuniting parents and grandparents with their adult children and grandchildren in Canada.

Canada has one of the most generous family reunification programs in the world. We bring families, spouses and common-law partners, children and parents together through permanent and temporary programs.

One such mechanism is the super visa, which is a multiple-entry temporary resident visa that allows parents and grandparents to visit a child or grandchild in Canada for extended periods of time. Bill C-242 is focused on changing the super visa. The super visa has been a particularly popular way for the government to help reunite families. Since it was first established in 2011, nearly 150,000 super visas have been issued, with approximately 17,000 visas granted annually.

We are talking about approximately 150,000 parents and grandparents who were able to spend time with their children and grandchildren during extended visits to Canada. These parents and grandparents play an important role in the family and help guide the next generation. Having parents and grandparents around can make life easier in situations where both parents work.

What makes the super visa unique is the length of stay and the ability to leave and to return to Canada. For a standard visitor's visa or temporary resident visa, the length of stay is limited to up to six months. Because the super visa allows for longer stays and the ability to return without reapplying for another temporary visa, it is highly valuable to bringing families together.

Our government has made many changes to improve the super visa. First, by increasing the length of stay per entry from one year to two years in 2018, and most recently, in June of this year, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced the visa would be enhanced to allow for stays up to five years at a time. The super visa also holds the possibility of multiple extensions. Now a parent or grandparent can stay up to seven consecutive years.

A long-term, flexible visa means that applicants and their families might be subject to additional criteria before their applications are approved. This includes undergoing an immigration medical exam, purchasing private medical insurance and ensuring that the applicant will receive minimum financial support from their Canadian or permanent resident child or grandchild.

Super visas are authorized through ministerial instructions, in accordance with the powers granted to the minister by Parliament under the law. Ministerial instructions are a more flexible instrument that can usually be implemented more rapidly when governments need to make changes quickly to respond to our clients' needs.

I note that some members of the committee raised concerns that by enshrining a new super visa condition into the legislation, it might be less adaptable to changing circumstances. While there are advantages to maintaining the program in ministerial instructions, Bill C-242 would advance every party's desire to keep families together and allow parents and grandparents to support their loves ones in Canada.

Our government firmly supports the five-year length of stay per entry for super visa holders, and that is why we announced changes to the super visa in June of this year to increase the length of stay to five years per entry, with a possibility of extending the stay for two years.

Bill C-242 would also legislate that applicants can purchase health insurance from insurance companies outside of Canada. Currently, only Canadian insurance companies can offer coverage for those parents or grandparents coming to Canada.

As previously mentioned, the minister announced enhancements to the super visa in June of 2022, and as part of those changes, the minister is now able to designate foreign medical insurance providers to provide insurance coverage for super visa applications. I am glad the language of the bill supports a robust and thorough system to approve international insurance companies.

Finally, we firmly support the minister examining the program criteria for the current super visa and tabling a report in Parliament outlining how to improve the program. This responds to some of the concerns raised in committee about the income requirement for the super visa, which would ensure that parents and grandparents are supported while they are in Canada. I believe that all members in the House want to examine options for improving any and all programs so that as many families as possible can access them.

Similarly, we appreciate the recent amendment to Bill C-242 to authorize the minister to conduct an examination of special circumstances that may have arisen during the processing of temporary resident visa applications, and report back to Parliament. We are supportive of this study and look forward to its findings.

I appreciate the work done by the committee and the House seeking to improve our immigration system and reunite more families in Canada. I thank those who contributed to and are working on improving this program and other immigration programs. I am pleased about the prospect of future collaborations and a law that brings all parties in the House together to work on behalf of all Canadians and in their best interests.

Reuniting Families ActPrivate Members' Business

October 24th, 2022 / 11:05 a.m.
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Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, this bill will have a positive and meaningful impact on family reunification for many immigrants, particularly immigrant women.

Bill C-242 would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, specifically the eligibility criteria for parents and grandparents who wish to apply for the temporary resident super visa. To better understand this, let us take a quick look back.

The super visa was introduced in 2011. It allowed many parents and grandparents from around the world to temporarily enter Canada for two years at a time over a 10-year period. This visa allows multiple entries for extended periods. This has benefited families and communities across the country, both socially and economically. More than a third of the super visas were granted to families from India, followed by families from China, Pakistan, the Philippines and Bangladesh.

One year after the launch of the super visa program, approximately 13,000 visas had been issued, with an acceptance rate of 87%. Without exact statistics about the number of super visas issued per year, we know that it is 20,000 or less across Quebec and the country, representing a relatively small proportion of between 1% and 2% of temporary residence visas issued every year.

We can easily understand that being able to stay longer with an adult child would allow a parent or grandparent to provide support in all kinds of family situations. Very often, the individual will take care of grandchildren, enabling adult immigrants to actively contribute to the economy.

How does the super visa for parents and grandparents differ from a regular multiple-entry visa? Currently, most visitors can only stay in Canada up to six months after their initial entry. The super visa allows eligible parents and grandparents to visit their family in Canada for up to two years without having to renew their status.

Bill C-242 introduces minor and very specific amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to facilitate the arrival of parents and grandparents sponsored by a child or grandchild who is a temporary resident or Canadian citizen. This bill will extend the validity of the temporary resident visa from two to five years. This will give these families three more years to improve their chances of obtaining permanent residence. That is something.

One of the greatest benefits of facilitating the arrival of parents or grandparents from abroad is to make it possible for them to free the parents from the responsibility of caring for young children and helping them save money on child care costs.

I would ask members to note the following prediction: By 2036, between 38% and 50% of children under the age of 6 will be children of immigrants. Therefore, it will be especially important to provide the parents of these children with an alternative for their child’s care.

I would also point out to my colleagues that some cultures value the importance of exposing children to their mother tongue and their culture at a very young age. Those values can have an impact on the families’ preferences when it comes to choosing a child care option.

We know that the lack of established social networks, the lack of ties to the host community and language barriers significantly hinder access to child care. These factors disproportionately affect new immigrants. The situation is even worse for immigrant women. They often face a difficult choice: to work, at times for low pay because they often have few skills or their skills are unfortunately not recognized, or to stay home with the children to save on child care costs.

A resident in my constituency, Laurentides—Labelle, who is originally from India called us for help bringing over his father-in-law. That resident is a new father and it would be entirely natural for the grandfather to be able to stay in the beautiful area of Saint-Agathe-des-Monts to support his daughter and son-in-law for at least five years.

In general, immigrant families are more likely to turn to free child care options that allow both parents to work. For all these reasons, we must consider Bill C-242, which will facilitate family reunification for an extended period of time. It will enable immigrant families to turn to free child care options and make it possible for mothers to choose to contribute to the economy and improve their living conditions. Everyone wins.

For all these reasons, and to support these immigrant families, the Bloc Québécois will vote for this bill.

I would add that there are many new immigrant families who are having a hard time adjusting. We see it, and we support them every day in all our regions. They reach out to us for support in their integration journey. We must support them and support the amendments in Bill C-242.

I would like to talk about the four changes to the eligibility criteria for the parents' and grandparents' super visa. The first, as I said at the outset, is the extended stay in Canada for up to five years. Second, the visa facilitates access to permanent residence. Parents and grandparents will have three years to obtain permanent residence for themselves. Third, the visa expands the pool of insurance companies. Currently, only Canadian companies can be used. Immigrants will be able to buy coverage at a better price. Fourth, the minister will have to table a report about reducing the income requirement to make it easier for parents and grandparents to come.

In closing, we must remember that a newcomer's journey demands a fighting spirit, especially in the early years. They face many obstacles. I salute everyone in Laurentides—Labelle who is facing those obstacles right now. Of course we do what we can to support them.

Many of those who reach out to us need help finding work, learning our language or accessing various services. I believe that Bill C‑242 will facilitate their social and economic integration. It is important to support them.

The House resumed from September 20 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 third time and passed.

Reuniting Families ActPrivate Members' Business

September 20th, 2022 / 6:50 p.m.
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Jenica Atwin Liberal Fredericton, NB

Madam Speaker, it is great to see you back in the chair and to see all of my colleagues in this wonderful place. It is, of course, an honour to rise on behalf of the residents of Fredericton and to join our voice in this debate this evening.

I would like just to begin with my wish for this fall session on behalf of our colleagues here in this place. I hope for a session of collaboration, of collegiality and, dare I say, of kindness and compassion. I know that is what Canadians want to see from us on all issues, even difficult ones. Even on issues where we may disagree, there is a place for us to show our respect for one another. Really, Canadians want us to work together. I hope to see rhetoric toned down. I hope to see a little less polarization, understanding that our behaviours in this place are reflected in our communities.

This evening we are discussing Bill C-242, which is the reuniting families act. In Fredericton, inquiries regarding immigration, refugee status and visas are the highest number that we have as far as constituency files go. I would like to thank my incredible staff for the work that they do on behalf of our residents as well. It is difficult work and we hear a lot about the need for family reunification. None of us can imagine the difficulty of being separated from our loved ones for long periods of time, but it certainly continues to happen, and I am happy to see that there are measures being taken to address these long absences.

The super visa is extremely popular. Our government recognizes that having parents and grandparents being able to visit Canada for longer periods of time will bring substantial benefits for families living in Canada and, by extension, the Canadian economy as well.

After extensive consultation with caucus, stakeholders and experts, it was determined that the fundamental program changes sought in this bill would be in the best interests of Canadians and Canadian permanent residents. For this reason, in June the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship used his authority under ministerial instructions to make changes to the length of stay for a super visa holder and he committed to designate certain international medical insurance companies as authorized to provide coverage to super visa applicants. These changes will strengthen family reunification in Canada, which is, of course, a priority for our government.

What this shows is a demonstration of working together with opposition members on some of the issues that they also see in their constituencies. It also shows a willingness to listen to what Canadians and other members in the House are telling us, and the commitment to work together to solve these problems. It may not be exactly what we saw in the private member's bill. It shows kind of a tweaking of the message there, but our minister has been doing an excellent job of really responding to the high needs that we see in each constituency.

Again, it is an honour to rise. I did not realize I would be participating in tonight's debate, so I am happy to have my voice on the record. It is a complicated issue, but we have found the best pieces to work together on. I am sure there are still places we can improve, but the goal is to focus on family reunification and ensuring that those long absences do not add to the stress that those families are feeling and do not add to the mental health issues that we are seeing with those who are separated from loved ones for long periods of time. It is something that we are going to continue to work on, listening to Canadians and hoping to deliver.

Reuniting Families ActPrivate Members' Business

September 20th, 2022 / 6:45 p.m.
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Anju Dhillon Liberal Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Dufferin—Caledon for the time he has dedicated to this legislation.

As we know, our government has made a strong commitment to bring newcomers with their family members from overseas. Maintaining the bonds of family is not only essential to our immigration system. It is paramount to the well-being of Canadian society in general and, perhaps, most importantly, family reunification is a fundamental Canadian value.

For me, I was also raised by my grandparents. I would not be who I am without them as I stand here today.

Canada has one of the most generous family reunification programs in the world. We strive to keep families connected wherever possible.

With families by their sides, newcomers can better integrate into Canadian society and contribute to the success of communities from coast to coast to coast. The last two years have been tough for everyone. After the uncertainty and isolation of the pandemic, people are especially keen to reconnect with their loved ones. The love and support of parents and grandparents in particular are factors in the success of newcomers and those who are well-established here as permanent residents or Canadian citizens. This is why Canada has a special class of visa available for parents and grandparents who wish to visit their family for longer periods of time. The parent and grandparent super visa is a multiple-entry visa, valid for entry for up to 10 years.

In June of this year, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced that the visa would be enhanced to allow for stays of up to five years at a time. That is an increase from two years. The super visa also holds the possibility of multiple extensions so that now a parent or grandparent can stay up to seven consecutive years. A long-term, flexible visa means that applicants and their families might be subject to additional criteria before their applications are approved. This includes undergoing an immigration medical exam, purchasing private medical insurance and making sure that the applicant will receive minimum financial support from their Canadian or permanent resident child or grandchild.

As previously mentioned, the minister announced enhancements to the super visa in June of 2022 and, as part of those changes, the minister is now able to designate foreign medical insurance providers to provide insurance coverage for super visa applications.

It is important to ensure that these visitors, who are more at risk of changing health circumstances, are protected with reliable and secure emergency medical coverage while visiting Canada for a long period of time so that they are not denied medical treatment or asked to pay hospital bills right out of pocket. The minister made this change to provide more flexibility to super visa holders while also ensuring that these parents and grandparents have adequate coverage while in Canada. I am confident that any foreign insurance companies designated by the minister will undergo a robust verification process to ensure that super visa holders are adequately protected.

Bill C-242 also requires the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to table a report on reducing the income requirement that the child or grandchild must meet for the parent or grandparent to qualify for a super visa. As we affirmed during debate in the last stage of the bill, the government supports these changes. As I have already said, the necessary steps to implement them were taken in June 2022 through ministerial instruction, which came into force in July.

Along with many other members here, I would be glad to see a report tabled in Parliament on the income requirements for the super visa. The minimum necessary income requirement is in place to ensure that the host child or grandchild is able to provide for the basic requirements of their visiting parent or grandparent while they are in Canada. That said, we must always be willing to look for opportunities that may lead to greater program flexibility and, ultimately, more families being able to reunite with one another.

What needs to be clarified is the fact that Bill C-242 proposes to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, effectively enshrining these changes to the super visa in law. We continue to believe that entrenching changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act would hamper the ability to be responsive to potentially different needs of parents and grandparents in the future. Any future enhancement to the super visa could potentially take years to go through a legislative process.

The changes that were made in June exemplify how effective and rapid this instrument is when an improvement is needed. Setting things in stone in IRPA would completely negate this expediency. Ministerial instructions allow the government to respond rapidly to the needs of clients as opposed to a slow-moving legislative procedure.

In closing, the government strongly recognizes family reunification as an integral part of our immigration system. Helping families reunite with loved ones is a priority for our government. Canadians have asked for this, and we have responded. Thanks to the changes brought into force last June, parents and grandparents may now stay in Canada for many, many years without having to leave the country. With approximately 17,000 super visas issued every year, the super visa is an accessible option for the parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to reunite in Canada. I remain confident that the super visa in its current form maximizes benefits to families.

For this reason, while the Government of Canada supports many of the principles outlined in private member's bill, Bill C-242, we recommend that the authorities remain under ministerial instruction and not in legislation. This would preserve our ability to best serve our current clients and those who are to come in the future.

Reuniting Families ActPrivate Members' Business

September 20th, 2022 / 6:40 p.m.
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Jasraj Singh Hallan Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today in support of my colleague's bill. First and foremost, I want to congratulate my colleague from Dufferin—Caledon for bringing forward such a compassionate, sympathetic and common-sense bill that will help many new immigrants to this country and help our economy at the same time.

Before I get into the speech, I would also like to thank my NDP and Bloc colleagues for supporting the bill, making all kinds of great recommendations all the way along, and helping to get it through our immigration committee, without the support of the Liberals of course. I find it quite funny that the government loved the bill so much that it ended up taking it from my colleague and claiming it as its own.

I find it even more interesting and ironic that at second reading of the bill, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration said in this place, “The government does not support the member's proposal to allow...applicants to purchase private health insurance from foreign companies.” It is interesting enough that when the Liberals were taking the bill from my colleague, they also took that part of it, one of the most common-sense parts of the bill, which would help low-income families and those who need the help the most. However, they did not support that part. They still do not support that part.

I find it quite ironic and interesting that the woke government, which claims to be there for Canadians and have their backs, is not there. It is not there for low-income families, especially newcomers, who need the support from their parents and grandparents. We know how important it is to have grandparents and parents here. We saw that throughout the entire pandemic. People needed help. People were struggling with mental health and all sorts of problems.

In my office I see all sorts of troubles caused by the Liberal-made backlog in immigration. As my Bloc colleague said, 80% to 90% of the cases that come through our offices are immigration cases. The immigration system today is broken under the Liberal government. In my opinion, this common-sense bill, Bill C-242, would help to reduce that backlog. These are the common-sense solutions our party is putting forward because the government is not addressing the Liberal-made backlogs it has created itself.

I will keep it short because we have debated enough. All of my colleagues have put great points forward. I urge the government to support this bill. Let us get the help right away that people need now. Let us put it into legislation and let us get the job done.

Reuniting Families ActPrivate Members' Business

September 20th, 2022 / 6:30 p.m.
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Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I am happy to rise and speak to Bill C-242.

The heart of the issue of Bill C-242 is reuniting families. It is about ensuring that parents and grandparents can come to Canada to be with their loved ones. We know the value of that and cherish it as individuals. Like other people with children, I value the moments that my daughter and son spend with their grandmother and grandfather. Of course, my parents are immigrants here, so they get to enjoy that, but so many newcomers, so many immigrants who come to this country, are not in that fortunate situation. They did not bring their parents and grandparents here to Canada, and they cannot enjoy those moments. What Bill C-242 is trying to do is facilitate a process for those families to be reunited through the super visa process.

The super visa process is already in place, and the bill before us seeks to enhance it by addressing the high cost of the issue with respect to insurance coverage particularly, and then extending the period to which parents and grandparents can come to Canada under a super visa.

Interestingly, and because of petty politics, in my view, after the bill was tabled, we saw the government, through committee, literally in the ninth hour, bring forward ministerial instructions to try to kill the bill, which is exactly what happened. Despite government members saying that they have advocated for this for a very long time, the reality is that they did not act on it. I remember, because back in 2015 as a new member of Parliament, this was one of the issues that we studied. We studied parents and grandparents reunification, and there was a whole host of recommendations that were tabled, but then it just sat on a shelf and nothing happened. I express my congratulations to the member for actually pushing the government in this regard and getting this done.

With that being said, I do think there are flaws within the bill. Of course, my first choice would be for the government to lift the cap on parents and grandparents reunification so that all those family members could seek permanent residence status here in Canada in an expeditious way. Now, that did not happen.

However, the issue I have with Bill C-242 is that I was hoping, through the bill, to have an amendment so there would be an appeal process for rejections of super visas, which the member did support, but it did not get government support. It did not go through, which is very unfortunate, because as members can imagine, a person whose application has been turned down would actually have to go through judicial review, which is a very onerous and expensive process that should not, in my view, be required. There should be a simple appeal process for the review officers, the government and the minister to take into consideration the extenuating circumstances of why an application is being rejected and then make compassionate decisions.

I cited an example of one family whose application was rejected because they missed the income requirement in the final stages. Their child came early and they had to go on maternity leave. As a result, their income dipped every so slightly for a short period of time. After the child the was born, their income went back up, but then it was already too late, because they had already failed the program and they were rejected in the application. To me, that is a shame.

The government would say that they can reapply, which is true, but why make a family reapply? It is costly for the family. It delays the process, and equally important, it actually jams up IRCC and its staff, because they have to reprocess the same application yet again. Why go through that process when we could save the administrative cost on the government side?

That amendment, unfortunately, did not go through, but Bill C-242 would require the minister to report on it and review the issue around the review process, as well as report back on the income cut-off. I do think that reunification should not be based on one's ability to pay. Family reunification should be valued for what it is. Therefore, we should actually have a fulsome review of the costs that the government is imposing with respect to that and really examine whether or not we should be imposing it.

One thing that people often misconceive is the reality that when parents and grandparents come to Canada through family reunification, they contribute to our economy. They support the family, as both parents can get out into the workforce, as an example, and they can help with child care. They help with the growth of the children by teaching them their cultural and family history, language and so on. All of that contributes to building a multicultural Canada, one we are very proud of.

When we put up these barriers that block family reunification and only talk about their income, for example, saying that if their incomes dip ever so slightly, they are somehow disqualified, we are sending the clear message that family reunification needs to be bought. Just imagine that for one minute. If any one of us sitting in this chamber was told that we have to buy the ability to see our parents or grandparents, what would we say to that? I do not think that is who we are as a country and as a nation. I do not think that is who we are as people. Humanitarian actions acting on the basis of humanity mean that we cherish and value what we have and that we want to expand that to other people as well.

When it comes to family, I wish all families would be able to reunite. I wish that people would have the opportunity to be with their loved ones, create memories and then preserve those memories. The only way they can do that is for people to be able to reunite with each other.

I hope the government and the minister will take this to heart and examine the parents and grandparents sponsorship program and lift the cap to honour reunification in that way. In the interim, they should enhance the super visa program with an appeal process to ensure that there is an appeal process in place, and should lower the cost requirements. When we do that, we are respecting the families, and I think that is ultimately what we all want to see.

I will close by congratulating the member for bringing this bill forward. It is better to have legislation than ministerial instructions. It is petty for the government to play petty politics and bring in ministerial instructions at the last moment to usurp this bill. In the life of politics, at the end of the day what we all want to do, no matter which side we are on or which bench we are on, is make sure that policies are brought in to support and benefit the community.

There is no doubt in the minds of the New Democrats that ensuring family reunification for parents and grandparents is a laudable goal. It is a goal we support. We want to see this measure come to fruition, at least in the interim as a super visa. Let us reduce the cost of it for families and say that reuniting with loved ones should not be something we need to buy, but something we all honour and respect.

The New Democrats are happy to support this bill, and I look forward to seeing its full passage through the Senate.

Reuniting Families ActPrivate Members' Business

September 20th, 2022 / 6:25 p.m.
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Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to see you again after such a lovely summer. I hope you were able to meet with your constituents and all the people participating in this debate in the House this evening.

I do not know if the member for Saint-Jean is listening this evening, but I must commend her 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.

I also want to acknowledge the patience of the member for Dufferin—Caledon, who has been waiting many months for his bill to move forward.

First, I will quickly explain what a super visa is. I believe that everyone who rises to speak to this debate will do so. It is a visa, a travel document, for parents and grandparents. Someone who gets this visa is not allowed to work here, but they are allowed enter multiple times and stay for a maximum of two years at a time. There are certain requirements, and I will talk about the two most important ones. First, the person needs to have medical insurance coverage from a Canadian company. Second, the child or grandchild bringing in the parent or grandparent must provide proof of their ability to support them financially. There is a minimum income threshold that has to be proven by the child or grandchild in order for the parent or grandparent to receive the visa.

Spoiler alert: Let me just say that the Bloc Québécois is in favour of this bill.

For many families wishing to bring in parents and grandparents, the logistics, the paperwork and the wait times are an immeasurable administrative burden. Often, these families want to sponsor their parents or grandparents to come here permanently.

The super visa being considered provides the opportunity to have one's parents here in Canada 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. As all members of Parliament know, in our constituency offices across Canada and Quebec, about 80% to 85% of our most complicated cases are immigration cases. It needs to be said. This should not be allowed to continue across multiple programs. It would be a good idea to fast-track and streamline the process for those who in all likelihood would receive a favourable decision anyway. It seems to me that it might not be a bad thing.

The bill also makes some overall 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 who are granted the existing super visa are generally people of significant financial means. The applicants have proof of funds, and the 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 practical changes. First, visitors may purchase private health insurance from an insurance company located outside Canada. The current eligibility criteria require applicants to purchase insurance from a Canadian company.

Yesterday, I was talking about supply and demand, 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, the premium can cost between $1,000 and $1,500. For people slightly older or with known health problems, insurance coverage can cost up to $6,000 or $7,000 a year. For two parents or grandparents, the cost must come to about $10,000 annually on top of all of the costs associated with the immigration process. Wes, these people do have resources, as I said, but that is no reason to stop them from shopping around for insurance.

The bill requires that the foreign insurance company be approved by the minister, ensuring 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 over this type of insurance coverage. I am not an economist, but this seems to me like a rather 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.

I imagine that this could help them save money that they can use to get settled here, purchase goods and services, and contribute to our economy.

The second thing is that Bill C‑242 extends the period of time a person can stay in Canada without having to renew the document from two to five years. This measure would help eliminate some existing irritants.

The super visa is a multiple-entry visa that 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 significantly reduce those costs. As well, renewing the permit every two years currently 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 and grandchildren who are hosting them and taking responsibility for them.

As I said earlier, children who are either permanent residents or citizens must meet a minimum financial threshold. Bill C‑242 does not relax or eliminate the requirement for proof of financial means to support their parents or grandparents. Instead, it would have the minister study whether the minimum income requirement should be maintained. As I learned from my colleague from Saint-Jean, many people are suggesting it should be eliminated altogether.

If, within the next two years, the minister wants to maintain the minimum income requirement as is, they will have to explain why. Ministerial instructions changed everything though, so parliamentarians have not taken much of an interest in this bill.

The bill calls for a review of whether a particular measure is appropriate, which is reasonable. The committee covered this, and it went very well. The committee members were in agreement. Simply put, the Bloc Québécois supports this bill. It is all good. We have nothing bad to say about it.

There were ministerial instructions, but I think that this will make the measure permanent and ensure that it goes further in time. The member for Dufferin—Caledon did outstanding work on this. He has the support of the NDP and the Bloc Québécois. I think that this bill will move forward one way or another, even if one party on the other side of the House opposes it.

Reuniting Families ActPrivate Members' Business

September 20th, 2022 / 6:10 p.m.
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Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Dufferin—Caledon for his speech. I also thank him for his hard work on this bill. He has been working on it for a long time, and he can be proud of what he has accomplished.

Let me play devil's advocate so he can say a few more words. Some people are watching this debate because they plan to criticize Bill C‑242. They wonder why we should bother proceeding with the bill if there are ministerial instructions that are essentially the same as what is in Bill C‑242.

Would my colleague please comment on that?

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-242, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (temporary resident visas for parents and grandparents), as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 14th, 2022 / 10:05 a.m.
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Salma Zahid Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth and 10th reports of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in relation to Bill C-242, an act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act regarding temporary resident visas for parents and grandparents.

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

June 9th, 2022 / 12:55 p.m.
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Marie-France Lalonde Liberal Orléans, ON

As my colleague was stating, I think there was a lot of goodwill all throughout this process that took place to try to bring forward the consideration. It's very interesting for me the spirit of collaboration we've started. When I think about C-242—and I think my colleagues on both sides realize the importance of this—I have to say that I did congratulate Mr. Seeback myself, because I was very happy to see the goodwill we had in this committee, Madam Chair.