ANALYSIS: The Parents and Grandparents Program offers a variety of benefits to families and Canadian society.
The 2020 Parents and Grandparents Program intake window is now open until November 3, 2020.
Between October 13th and November 3rd, Canadian citizens and permanent residents can submit interest to sponsor forms on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) website. After November 3rd, IRCC will conduct a lottery and invite candidates to submit sponsorship applications to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada. IRCC will accept up to 10,000 applications for the 2020 PGP window.
The PGP’s benefits are clear for Canadian citizens and permanent residents who bring their parents and grandparents to Canada. They get to reunite with their loved ones. Their parents and grandparents enjoy the full benefits of being permanent residents such as the ability to work in Canada, access health care, and eventually earn the right to become Canadian citizens.
What are the benefits to Canadian society?
First, strong families are the backbone of Canadian society.
There is also a very strong economic case that can be made in favour of the Parents and Grandparents Program.
Research shows that parents and grandparents contribute to the household income. This allows families to have greater purchasing power which benefits the economy.
Buying a home is the biggest purchase we all make and the homeownership rate of immigrant families is equivalent to Canadian-born families (roughly 70 per cent of families own a home).
In addition to supplementing the household income, parents and grandparents enable their children and grandchildren to work more hours. The reason for this is that parents and grandparents can provide child care, giving the rest of the family more flexibility to pursue economic opportunity.
In the past, Canadian government surveys have found that the PGP is among the least popular immigration streams among Canadians. This is understandable given the perception that parents and grandparents contribute little to the Canadian economy, and are likely to be a significant expense on social services such as health care.
But, it is important to remember that Canada mitigates these concerns in several major ways. First, parents and grandparents account for just 6 per cent of the total number of immigrants Canada welcomes in a typical year.
In order to immigrate to Canada, parents and grandparents, just like all immigrants, need to pass a medical screening authorized by the Canadian government to ensure they do not create excessive demand on Canada’s health care system.
Third, Canada imposes a 20-year undertaking period on those who sponsor their parents and grandparents. This means that sponsors sign a contract with the Canadian government that they will be financially responsible for their parents and grandparents for 20 years from the date their family member obtains permanent residence. During this entire period, the sponsor is legally obligated to repay any social assistance that is collected by their parents or grandparents. This results in very low social assistance utilization by parents and grandparents.
Finally, Canada seeks to pursue economic, social, and humanitarian goals through its immigration system. It wants immigrants to benefit the economy, and thus it selects nearly 60 per cent of its immigrants under the economic class. It also seeks to reunite families which is why it operates the Parents and Grandparents Program. Thirdly, it seeks to assist those who are less fortunate based on humanitarian reasons.
While it should not be viewed through an economic lens, a case can certainly be made that the Parents and Grandparents Program does help the Canadian economy.