New Canadians – The Lucky Few

February 28th, 2014

Under the current Citizenship Act, the minister can grant fast-tracked Canadian citizenship to alleviate cases of special and unusual hardship or to reward services of exceptional value to Canada. The minister used this power to make instant Canadian citizens of certain athletes, who had a shot at making the recent Canadian Winter Olympic team. That gesture could not have sat well with the tens of thousands of Canadian landed immigrants, who have been waiting two or more years for their citizenship applications to be finalized. I understand that not many of our Olympians benefited from this preferential treatment, but that’s not really the point. The optics leave much to be desired. Moreover, compare our government’s favourable treatment of would-be Olympians to the lack of appreciation extended to Afghan interpreters who risked their lives by providing their services to Canadian Armed Forces in the field of action. Not only were these courageous individuals not offered citizenship, they had to threaten court action just to gain permanent residency.

Keeping with the Olympic spirit, if we are to be candid, our government’s handling of the citizenship portfolio in recent times has been less than medal-worthy. In 2012, the most recent full year for which statistics are available, 189,000 applicants were caught in the citizenship backlog compared to just 17,000 the year before. It may be true that the number of new citizenship applications increased by 94,000 in 2012, but at the same time the backlog grew by more than 160,000. So while the input of applications had gone up, the government’s output was stuck in first gear. The net result is that a huge number of Canadian landed immigrants live in a state of uncertainty, making it difficult for them to travel and impossible for them to vote. Hmm…

The government has defended its underwhelming performance by blaming the increase in processing times on its efforts to crack down on residency and citizenship fraud. However, as one of my colleagues pointed out, the government has taken a sledge hammer to a very small problem. The amount of paper work many applicants are now required to submit borders on the ridiculous. Having to provide three years of phone bills and credit card statements has become commonplace. No wonder applicants have begun turning to the Federal Court to force the government to process their applications.

Now the government proposes to amend the current Citizenship Act in a way that will fundamentally transform the meaning, scope and processing of Canadian citizenship. In my next blog, I will examine the new definition of Canadian citizenship and what it means for soon-to-be naturalized Canadians.

Previous Blog : Time to Change the Rules
Next Blog : Strengthening Canadian Citizenship?

6 Responses to “New Canadians – The Lucky Few”

  • On March 3rd, 2014, Anonymous said ...

    There were no Canadian citizens before 1947. My grandfather was a Canadian soldier and fought at Passhendaele and Vimy Ridge. My father grew up in the prairies. My son and grandchildren are all Canadian citizens yet my application to live in Canada has already taken 3 years and according to the London vis office is to take over 5 more years I had always thought Canadians were honest and caring people and I wanted to add something to the fabric of any community I eventually settled in but it looks as though I might never make it!

  • On March 3rd, 2014, Anonymous said ...

    the government does wht benefits the government. they are being ridiculous, preventing families from being together with unreasonable demands and expectations. they bring people into our country that they feel are the best candidates. says who, and who do they think they are. not everyone they bring is good for our country

  • On March 3rd, 2014, Anonymous said ...

    We have been here nearly 6 years, been waiting for citizenship award for 27 months AFTER having written the test. In the meantime, they cancelled the FSW category pre 2008 applicants, affective my sister and her family – and now, after 7 years of waiting, they cancelled my parents’ investor application. As a family, e have given our all to be in Canada – and Canada is systematically taking it away.Not much more to say.

  • On March 4th, 2014, Anonymous said ...

    It is really disgusting what I just read!!! In such a beautiful country, how can the government be so blind and deaf to those who work hard to make a tiny bit of living to escape a previous precarity?! And just because some brings a piece of gold around their neck makes them VIP into the Canadian citizenship program? I’m really disgusted about such favouritism. Like another anonymous said, government benefits the government, that’s all. Seriously, WTF?! Does the government has an idea of what it is to live in precarity? Not having any status in a foreign country? Etc… So now I ask myself this question: does the government really care?

  • On March 6th, 2014, Sohail said ...

    The Federal /Provincial Government has been changing P N P laws in Saskatchewan. It would have been fair if those families who relocated from other provinces to SK for unification of their families ( It appears that the Government is preventing families from being together with unreasonable & strange demands / rules. The fair rule would have been to exempt those families who settled in any city of Saskatchewan before the new regulations were enforced in probably May, 2012. Can the Government imagine the problems of relocation (Leaving jobs & disposing nearly all the house hold items ). If the program was misused at least inviting one OR two families law could have been retained. It seems that the Canadian Gov’t which was once known for its fairness & multiculturalism is changing its priorities. I request both the Federal & Provincial Governments to apply the old rules to those families who relocated before the changed rule of May, 2012.
    People expect fairness from the Governments if not from persons.

  • On February 4th, 2015, Anonymous said ...

    Thank you for your concern. I was under the live in caregiver program 2 years ago. We Filipinos are very dedicated in our job. We put our mind and soul by all means. We strive to have a better future and improve ourselves. In my humble way I can say I’m on my first step..

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