The federal government is returning to a controversial lottery system to distribute coveted sponsorships to reunite immigrant families.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino today announced details of the new parent and grandparent sponsorship program. The program will open Oct. 13 for a three-week window when people can fill out online forms to express interest in bringing their relatives to Canada. The program had been suspended due to the global pandemic.
After the three-week period ends, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will randomly select potential sponsors and invite them to submit applications.
Those selected will have 60 days to submit their applications. Normally there are 20,000 spots available, but due to the suspension caused by COVID-19, there will be 10,000 available spots this year and 30,000 in 2021.
“We think this is the fairest way in which to administer the intake and to invite expressions of interest,” Mendicino told CBC News.
“We know that last year there was a high demand and there were some individuals who were disadvantaged by the intake process, so we wanted to create a level playing field as much as possible.”
First-come, first-served system failed
The Liberal government moved to a first-come, first-served online application system last year after scrapping the controversial lottery system.
But that approach left tens of thousands of people frustrated and furious because they couldn’t access the form or fill it out quickly enough.
Some said the sprint to file applications worked against those who couldn’t fill them out quickly, such as people with disabilities or literacy issues, or those living in places with slow internet connections.
The lottery system has also been contentious, with critics claiming it essentially gambled with peoples’ lives.
The lottery process in 2018 replaced another first-in system which was also unpopular because it led to a mad rush every January — with people lining up overnight at the doors of processing centres or paying placeholders to stand in line and deliver applications prepared by consultants or lawyers.
Mendicino said the government would continue to look for ways to improve the application system.