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Better policy needed for vistor visas

By Kevin Lamoureux, MP Winnipeg North

On March 11, standing inside the House of Commons in Ottawa I said, “Mr. Speaker, [this] petition deals with the issue of visitor visas particularly from the Philippines and India. We need to support the right of family members to be able to visit Canada as long as they are of good character and good health. Far too often visas are turned down for individuals who want to come to Canada to participate in special graduation ceremonies or because someone in their family has passed away.”

On Saturday March 12 someone came to my office and asked for my help. After listening to him I felt sorry for his family and was very upset with immigration. The man explained to me that he and his wife have three wonderful children but his youngest child (19-month-old baby) was in the hospital and she will continue to be in the hospital for many more months. The baby has cancer and even though the baby will likely survive, she will require intense medical attention including chemotherapy. Knowing the difficult road ahead, the family should be allowed to have their mother, who happens to live in another country, be with them at this time.

It is hard to imagine how an immigration officer would say no to some one requiring a visiting visa in this type of a situation. I wrote a letter on the family’s behalf and described the emotional and physical impact on the family here in Winnipeg.

MPs and politicians are constantly told that they cannot decide who can or cannot be issued a visiting visa but we can advocate for better policy and raise concerns related to specific cases. As an MP, I will fight for a family’s right to have other family members to be able to have the ability to visit here in Canada.

Far too often I am told about people who have been denied a visiting visa because the immigration official feels that the person might not return to their homeland. The Government of Canada needs to reform the way in which visas are being issued. Not acting on this issue prevents many families from being able to be reunited, even if for only a few months.

The way in which visiting visas are issued was the primary reason why I went to the Philippines and I am committed to raising the profile of this issue until changes are made. There are many reasons why people want to visit Canada from the Philippines; things like graduations, marriages, baptisms, funerals and so much more – including just wanting to visit members of their family here in Canada, in the environment in which their siblings or others now live.

Canadian Embassies should be mandated to better facilitate people in countries like the Philippines that have family here in Canada. The benefit of doubt should be given to those who have family members here in Canada. As long as the person is of good character and in good health, why should they be denied the opportunity to visit Canada? Yes, there are some bad apples that will abuse the system, but let’s not penalize the good because of the bad. There are ways to address the bad with out saying no to the good. I hope to report on that concern before the end of the year. As for the case that led me to writing this letter I will be sure to pass on the outcome as they will be trying again in a couple of weeks.

Contact Kevin Lamoureux at www.4kevin.ca

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