CCR urges government to drop plans to break up families

Canadian Council for Refugees
Media Release

    For immediate release
2 July 2013

CCR urges government to drop plans to break up families

The Canadian Council for Refugees today called on the government to abandon proposed changes to the immigration regulations that would undermine families. Background documents reveal that the government’s purely economic rationale for breaking up families is very weak.

“Newcomers have always relied heavily on their families to get ahead in their adopted country,” said Loly Rico, President. “We are asking the government to recognize refugees and immigrants as members of families, not just individual economic units. We believe Canada is stronger when families are valued and supported.”

The government is proposing to narrow the definition of a dependent child in the immigration regulations by reducing the maximum age from 21 to 18 years and eliminating the exception for full-time students.

The reason given for dropping young adult children is that dependants who arrive in Canada at a younger age earn more in the long term than those who are slightly older. However, the government’s own documents show that the difference in earnings is small, and older dependants actually earn more than the average Canadian.

Concerns include:

  • Unmarried children aged 19, 20 or 21 years, are usually still part of the family (economically, socially and psychologically) and need their parents’ support.
  • In many societies it is difficult and even dangerous for single young women to live alone.
  • Refugees are forced to flee danger and face multiple losses and disruptions. Forcing refugees to leave their young adult children behind exposes them to risk, as well as causing hardship for all the family.

The government is also proposing dramatic restrictions on sponsorship of parents and grandparents. Sponsorships will be increased from 10 years to 20 years and sponsors will need to have a higher income over a longer period before they can sponsor. If adopted, these changes will mean that only the wealthy can sponsor their parents.

The CCR questions the government’s over-emphasis of economic objectives: Canada’s immigration program is also about protecting refugees and reuniting families. Refugees and immigrants contribute more than just economically. Separating families also has economic costs, which have not been evaluated in the government’s analysis.

The CCR calls on the government to abandon the proposed changes and to give higher priority to removing the existing painful barriers to speedy family reunification.

For more information, see the CCR's backgrounder on the proposed changes.

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Colleen French, Communication and Networking Coordinator,, 514-277-7223, ext. 1, 514-476-3971 (cell)