OTTAWA– The Harper Conservatives must immediately address the dismal processing times for citizenship applications that have become endemic on Minister Jason Kenney’s watch, the federal Liberals said this week.
“Since Jason Kenney became minister, Canadians have witnessed a staggering decline in Citizenship and Immigration services, including over 300,000 permanent residents whose citizenship applications now sit in a backlog,” said Liberal Citizenship and Immigration critic Kevin Lamoureux.
“These processing times are totally unacceptable. We have thousands of potential citizens who are being denied the right to vote and there has been no indication from this Conservative government as to when they plan to process these applications.”
Under the current system, residents in Canada’s largest cities can be left waiting four to five years if a proof of residency is required. If a hearing is required in Toronto, it can take five to six years. This stands in stark contrast with the previous Liberal government which invested $69 million in 2005 to improve processing times towards an average of 12 months for a grant of citizenship and four months for proof of citizenship.
“Jason Kenney needs to dial down the rhetoric about potential security threats and start doing the real work – providing the resources to cut the processing times,” said Liberal Multiculturalism critic Jim Karygiannis.
“He and the Conservatives constantly urge permanent residents to make a commitment to Canada and become citizens, yet the Minister is responsible for putting up the barriers to obtain Canadian citizenship.”