Slipping through the cracks
Earlier this year, families around the world got the welcome news that Canada was reverting to a system whereby immigration applicants could include accompanying children up to and including the age of 21 on an application for Canadian permanent residence.
I, for one, was glad to see the Liberals go back to this standard. Our erstwhile Minister of Immigration from the Conservative bench (which for a long while happened to be on the government side of the House), Jason Kenney, had changed the definition of a dependent child to up to and including the age of 18 back in 2014.
In his speaking notes at the time, Kenney is recorded as saying, to no individual in particular, ‘You’re not a child anymore. You’re an adult. Take responsibility for yourself.’ He was, of course, speaking of teenagers and people in their early 20s, most of whom were not eligible to immigrate to Canada through an economic program, because those programs typically require skilled work experience.
How many 19 or 20 year-olds do you know who have completed their education and landed, and kept, a skilled job? Not many, I bet.
But the past is the past, and the Liberals are de-Kenneyfying the immigration department piece by piece.
Unfortunately, it looks like some people — some children — are slipping through the cracks. The issue is that although the government announced this positive change in May of this year, it will only take effect for applications submitted on or after October 24.
Andy Buck moved from his home in the UK to Calgary, Alberta in 2008 after accepting a job with the city. His sons, 14 and 17 at the time, stayed back with his former wife. A couple of years later (and before the Kenney change), the elder son, Alex, followed his father to Canada as a dependent. In 2015 (and after the change), the younger son, Benjamin, decided he would join his father and brother, and it was then that the family realized that Benjamin was no longer considered a dependent.
He was 19 then, 21 today. He turns 22 in July — after the announcement that 21 year-olds were to be considered a dependent was announced, but before the change comes into effect. Twice denied.
According to a recent news reports, Buck tried applying for Benjamin on compassionate grounds, but the application was denied, and the family is now appealing to federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.
In certain situations, it is possible to submit an application for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds from overseas. But the exact ins and outs of the Buck case are not publicly available, and therefore it would be remiss to advise the Minister exactly what to do in the specific case. It must surely be acknowledged more generally, however, that families like the Bucks have been caught out not just once, but twice, and our immigration system should strive to avoid situations like this in the future. Hopefully situations that exist in the present, such as the case of Benjamin Buck, can be rectified to the satisfaction of all parties.