Kababayans in Canada know all too well about waiting for immigration to process our applications. We have all been there – whether as a caregiver or sponsors of family members. What most of us expect is that we get processed on a first-come-first-served basis, provided that the application is complete and that all requirements are met. It is what seems fair. However, the Trudeau government issued a statement last December, telling Canadians that on January 3, 2017, immigration will become a lottery. Trying to find out more about this new system, the Honourable Tobias C. Enverga Jr., Senator from Ontario, asked the following question during the Senate’s Question Period:

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Family Reunification—Lottery Program

Hon. Tobias C. Enverga, Jr.: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. In December, the previous Minister of Immigration announced changes to the Family Reunification Program, replacing the previous first-come- first-served program for sponsorship applications with a new lottery-based system. The change was announced on December 14 and put into effect on January 3.

Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us why the government chose not to provide more advance notice of this important change to the families already waiting in line?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question and his ongoing interest in matters respecting immigration and refugee issues. It is not unusual, from time to time, for the minister responsible to make adjustments to ensure that the management of immigration applications is such that we can meet our commitments in terms of the immigration levels with the flows that are before the department.

I will inquire with respect to the specific announcement that he references, but it is not unusual at all, and it is usually done as quickly as possible, which I assume is the motivation of the minister at the time.

Senator Enverga: As a supplementary question, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has stated that it will randomly choose 10,000 individuals from those who filled out an online form. Those 10,000 people will be invited to send in their completed application package. Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate please tell all honourable senators how the department intends to conduct this random draw? What algorithms will the department use?

Senator Harder: I haven’t studied the algorithms that will be used, but I’m happy to inquire.