Immigration Committee Study Reveals Separation and Uncertainty Causing Mental Health Crises on Canadian Immigrants

Many permanent residents and separated family members are unable to enter Canada due to the recent pandemic. They are regularly venting their frustration out in the House of Commons as witnesses in a recent study on Canadian immigration.

The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration of Canada is going to conduct a study. This will examine the overall impact of Covid-19 on the immigration system of the country.

The study of the impact will be over a course of a maximum of eight sessions. After completing the study, they will report the findings to the House.

After receiving the report, the government will have 120 days to come up with a proper response. However, there is no binding rule for them to bring any changes in the policy.

This study will consider the following issues as relevant to the Covid-19 impact on Canadian immigration:

  • Application pile-ups and processing times for various streams of family reunification. It will consider the barriers that prevent the time reunification of loved ones, like denials of TRVs due to section 179(b) of the Immigration and Refugees Protection Regulations and the continuing closures of Visa Application Centers.
  • Examine the Canadian government’s decision to reintroduce a lottery system for the reunification of parents and grandparents. They will compare it to the previous recurrence of application processes for the PGP. This will include a review of the criteria needed for successful sponsorship and processing time.
  • TRV processing delays that foreign students have to face while obtaining TRVs. This is especially French-speaking Africa, use of expired security, background, and medical checks for permanent registration, authorization to travel to Canada by individuals with expired confirmation of permanent residency.

During the House session, the committee will meet at 3:30 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. Forthcoming meetings are to be on November 16 and 18.

Marco Mendicino, the Canadian immigration minister, will appear before the committee on November 25 and December 2.

How The Travel Restrictions Are Affecting The Immigrants Mentally?

Among various previous findings, the immigrants’ and their Canadian families’ mental health will be examined. This will be in two scenarios in relation to family separation.

Faces of Advocacy is a subordinate organization. The reason behind its establishment was to reunite families in Canada during the recent travel restrictions.

According to them, they are directly in charge of the exemption on extended family members. This announcement was made on October 2.

The Faces of Advocacy made a study of the mental health of around 1,200 members at the end of August. Validated mental health rating scales were the basis of their findings with regard to depression, post-traumatic stress, and anxiety in civilians.

Although this result is not diagnostic, it does offer a glimpse into the mental health effects due to the travel restrictions.

49% of the respondents say that they were never mentally ill. At the same time, just over 69% tested positive for any symptoms of clinical depression.

An additional 16% of the respondents reported a history of suicidal thoughts or self-harm right before the travel restrictions. However, this number almost doubled to 30% after family separation.

The establishment of the Spousal Sponsorship Advocates was during the pandemic. It is another subordinate movement that aims to advocate for the hastened reunification of families. This will be with the continuing spousal sponsorship applications in Canada.

The survey successfully captured a mental health snapshot of 548 respondents. They were separated from their families for months and some for years at a time. The report states as follows:

  • 18% have suicidal thoughts
  • 22% had to cease working
  • 70% have anxiety issues and 44% have generalized anxiety issues
  • 35% began having panic attacks
  • 78% have certain periods of severe depression
  • 76% have severe cases of energy loss
  • 57% have physical pain at present
  • 52% either gained or lost weight
  • 85% have sleep disorders

There is also a mention of the mental state of all the expired confirmation of permanent residence or COPR holders. They were approved for permanent residence earlier. However, failed to enter Canadian soil before the expiration of their documents.

Due to this fact, there are many who are unable to travel to Canada without an authorization letter from the IRCC. Most of them have also uplifted their lives in their home country.

The proof includes a series of tweets that aim to portray the “agony, pains, and mental torture” that the COPR holders have to undergo.

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