OPEN LETTER to Immigration Minister on delays in processing for family and spousal sponsorships

Could you please advise specifically innovation actions has been taken or are being planned, what budget and resources have been allocated within IRCC to employ these “innovative solutions” and what is the timetable for the implementation of these measures.
Finally, some of the individuals who are in the midst of the spousal sponsorship process have written me with their concerns that their letters or emails to the Minister, or even their participation in petition or social media campaigns to raise public awareness of the difficulties that they face are allegedly being logged as notes in IRCC’s Global Case Management System (GCMS). As one writer noted, “Our right to advocate peacefully is guaranteed by the Canadian constitution. Should these notes be held against spousal sponsorship applicants, or in any way hinder their application process, this would represent a serious and fundamental breach of our constitutional rights.” Could you please verify whether these correspondences or other communications are being logged in the GCMS, and if so for what reason. 

OPEN LETTER to housing minister on cost-sharing plan with BC provincial and municipal government urgently needed to address homelessness crisis

The homelessness crisis is not only an affront to human rights, but also poses an enormous national public health risk. This puts the individuals and the communities they live in at risk. Despite the undisputable importance of housing, I am deeply concerned that your government’s National Housing Strategy (NHS) is woefully inadequate.
Based on the response to my order paper question submitted February 4th, 2020, it seems the largest component of the NHS, the National Housing Co-investment Fund (NHCF), has fallen short of expectations. I was shocked to learn that only 23 of 432 of submissions have finalized funding agreements. Even more troubling was the lack of funding outside of Ontario. Among these applications, over 50% of the finalized agreements were from Ontario and over 91% of the $1.47 billion in these agreements went to a single application in the City of Toronto.
Only 2 applications were finalized in British Columbia, which represents 0.05% of these funds. To say the least, this fails to recognize the housing crisis that has impacted Vancouver and communities in my riding particularly hard.

OPEN LETTER to Immigration Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister - Follow-up on immigration measures for Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan

As noted by the WSO, on March 25, 2020, ISIS-K terrorists attacked Gurdwara Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib in Kabul and murdered 25 Sikhs, including four-year-old Tania Kaur. At the funeral for the victims of this attack, a second attack was initiated involving the detonation of an explosive device. Earlier, in July 2018, the senior leadership of the Sikh and Afghan communities was assassinated in a suicide bombing that took 19 lives in Jalalabad. In June 2020, an Afghan Sikh, Nidan Singh Sachdeva, was abducted from a gurdwara and tortured for weeks. That was followed on July 17 by the abduction of 13-year-old Salmeet Kaur who was kidnapped from a Kabul gurdwara where she was living with her blind mother and younger brother. Salmeet’s father was killed in the March attack. ISIS-K has sworn to exterminate all Afghan Sikhs and Hindus if they do not leave Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s Sikh and Hindu communities face a threat to their very existence. The minority communities which once numbered over 200,000 have now dwindled to less than 800, due to decades of persecution. Only those families remain that do not have the means to relocate elsewhere. The majority of the community is forced to reside in gurdwaras and face discrimination in accessing education, employment and housing. As ISIS-K continues to attack civilians and international troops continue to withdraw from Afghanistan, Sikhs and Hindus are likely to face more violence.

OPEN LETTER to Minister of National Revenue on urgent support for PNE

As you are aware, this was an issue I initially brought to the attention of the House. I also wrote to various Ministers and raised it at a joint meeting with the Vancouver Mayor and other MPs and it was following this meeting that MP Fry and I sent the co-signed letter to you. As it relates to an organization that operates in my riding, I am wondering why I have not been included as part of these discussions. Your government has stated time and again that you want to work with all Members of Parliament to support the community through this pandemic. In the spirit of cooperation and collaboration, I hope you would be willing to include me in this conversation as this is a non-partisan matter. Kindly note that I am available any time to meet your schedule and look forward to your response. 

OPEN LETTER to Immigration Minister on long processing delay

I am writing to you to echo the concerns I’ve been hearing from families who are experiencing long delays for spousal sponsorship applications and urge for your government to adjust the program to allow conditions for spouses to obtain temporary resident visas as part of the spousal sponsorship application process.
Immigration is an exercise in nation building, and I have always seen family reunification as a pivotal component of Canada’s immigration system. During the last 5 years as the NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, I have heard far too many heart wrenching stories of how families are kept apart due to long delays in processing. Indeed, the issue of long delays in processing for permanent residence applications is a longstanding one and I share the concerns experienced by families who remain separated while they wait on the spousal sponsorship application process, which has worsened under COVID-19.

OPEN LETTER to Deupty Prime Minister and Finance Minister on federal emergency funding needed to save historic Chinatown

Your government has been made aware of the dire situation for businesses in Vancouver since the start of the pandemic. As you are aware, a recent announcement was made for Granville Island in Vancouver, a site owned by the federal government, where a special provision is made and $17 million is made available to provide rent relief for the merchants, theatres and artisans for a full year. While I support and appreciate the Federal government’s action in support of Granville Island, I would like to emphasize that historic Chinatown is in need of special consideration from your government. The significance of Vancouver’s Chinatown, a national historic site, is undeniably valuable to our city, our province and indeed our country.
Even before the pandemic occurred, Chinatown was already in a delicate state. The neighbourhood was ranked number three on the Heritage Vancouver Society’s top 10 watch list of endangered sites in Vancouver in 2018 and listed as the top 10 endangered places of the National Trust for Canada in 2016. In fact, ongoing gentrification and immense pressure from developers have already been impacting Chinatown’s rich cultural essence. The loss of small business merchants would only increase the risk of Chinatown losing its unique urban cultural characteristics.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Minister of Employment on continued support for new mothers, new parents and infants

We have previously raised concerns in letters to you, in Committee and in technical briefings about the financial difficulty faced by new parents who have fallen through the gaps between both EI maternity/parental leave and the CERB. We are still hearing from new parents about the many reasons that they struggle to meet their basic needs in this pandemic:

• Expectant and new parents who lost work as a result of COVID-19, and are no longer able to accrue the hours needed to qualify for EI maternity or parental benefits, have therefore been left without the source of income they were counting on during maternity or parental leave. While CERB may assist some of these families for up to 16 weeks, this is no replacement for the 12 to 18 month support provided by EI maternity benefits.

OPEN LETTER to Immigration Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to address migrant workers’ bad treatment

We urge you to instruct your respective departments to immediately undertake a review of the existing situation on Canadian farms with respect to migrant workers. It is evident from the volume of complaints this 60-day snapshot put together by the Migrant Workers Alliance that there a need for immediate action. We further urge that you undertake to act on the recommendations as outlined in the report.

The living conditions identified by these workers are simply unacceptable and we look forward to your prompt response, detailing the steps being taken by the Government of Canada to ensure migrant workers who grow the food that supports Canadians – and the world – are treated with dignity, respect and to ensure their health and safety.

OPEN LETTER to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Minister of Infrastructure and Communities on emergency COVID-19 financial assistance to save the PNE

As such, this meant that all the other Fairs across the country were able to access the CEWS at this difficult time, however, the PNE is the only fair that has been deemed ineligible. If the PNE is unable to a I first corresponded with you about the situation faced by the Pacific National Exhibition (the PNE) on April 21, 2020. PNE President & CEO Shelley Frost advised that at that time, “Since March 15th the PNE had 249 event cancellations totaling over $8.2 M in revenue. The loss of a summer operating season (Playland and PNE Fair) will result in another $42 million in revenue losses by November 2020...The PNE‘s only financial safety net is a $15 million credit line. With COVID shutting down the economy at the start of our spring revenue season, the PNE goes deeper into that credit line daily. We have minimized expenses, shut down services to various buildings on site and conducted maximum level layoffs to maintain as much room as we can within that credit line for the coming months. But once that credit line is maxed out, we have no options.”

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