Liberals scrap controversial family reunification lottery, accepting more applications
Justin Trudeau's Liberal government is dropping its controversial lottery system for reuniting immigrant families and reverting back to a first-come, first-served system following backlash from frustrated sponsors.
On Monday, the federal government announced it will admit up to 20,500 parents and grandparents under its reunification program in 2019, and 21,000 in 2020.
To reach those targets, Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada will accept 20,000 parent and grandparent reunification applications next year, up from 17,000 this year and 10,000 in 2016.
But "instead of randomly selecting the sponsors to apply, we will invite them to submit an application to sponsor their parents and grandparents based on the order in which we receive their interest to sponsor forms," reads a press release.
Mathieu Genest, a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, said the government is moving towards a fairer system.
As CBC previously reported, the lottery system was criticized for being "cruel," "heartless" and a "fiasco" when it was introduced in 2017.
Last year, more than 95,000 people took part, vying for just 10,000 spots.
Of those who filled out the online form, 10,000 sponsors were randomly selected and sent an email inviting them to submit an application.
In hundreds of pages of correspondence that were released through the Access to Information Act, potential sponsors expressed anger with what they described as a rushed and deeply flawed program that came without public consultation.
"Previous to this lottery, my wife and I had just completed the whole immigration process file and were approved to begin … when you decided to change the entire system to a Vegas-like circus of random choice," read one email.
The lottery system was in itself an attempt to make the system more fair and transparent after complaints the process was skewed by geography and an applicant's ability to pay a lawyer or other representative to get to the head of the queues.
The family reunification program has been plagued with massive backlogs in the past, as the number of applicants far exceeded the limited number of spots. The number dropped from a peak of 167,000 people, in 2011, to just under 26,000 people, in June 2018, according to the immigration department.