John McCallum, Liberal Critic for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism made the following statement regarding the Conservative Government’s proposed changes to the Citizenship Act:
While some aspects of the new citizenship bill C-24 are positive, the government’s own data shows that processing times for citizenship applicants have doubled under their watch, from 15 months in 2007 to 31 months in 2012. The government acknowledges that inadequate resources are the main reason for this increase. Indeed, processing times for all major categories of immigrants, as well as for visitors, have also skyrocketed over the past five years. At the same time, the bill proposes to increase the fee for new citizens from $100 to $300.
What a deal these Conservatives are offering would-be new citizens: double the waiting time and triple the fee!
Given this government’s abysmal record on skyrocketing processing times, it’s hard to believe that they will now wave a magic wand and cause those wait times to plummet in the next two years, just in time for the 2015 election.
While we agree with the government that Canadian citizenship is a privilege and that new citizens should be genuinely committed to our country, we disagree with their decision to extend language tests from those aged 18-54 to the broader age range 14-64. The age 14 is too young, while 64 is too old.
More than half of my Markham constituents are Chinese and South Asian. Many who are 60+ years old speak imperfect English, but that doesn’t make them any less committed as Canadian citizens. Raising the age for the language test from 54 to 64 is an insult to hundreds of thousands of loyal Canadians.