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MP’s from Prince Edward Island have been accusing the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) of ignoring the demands and requirements of immigrants living on the island and elsewhere. After the CIC shut down its Charlottetown, Saint John and Moncton offices earlier this season immigrants living in the areas have been experiencing trouble reaching out to the immigration department for assistance.
Presently in Charlottetown, the immigration office has only a single employee who works half time and is not required to provide face-to-face assistance to the immigrants. Sean Casey, Charlottetown MP, said that the Canadian immigration department must seriously consider the problems the immigrants in Charlottetown are facing. Casey said that due to the absence of proper immigration offices to assist the local immigrants, their cases are piling up. He said that in the last quarter the number of immigrants requiring assistance has been increasing.
In a press release posted on Casey’s website, he said, “I recently spoke with the other MP offices and they are experiencing the same thing. It is unfortunate, we have worked really hard to get immigrants to move to Canada and now we are saying, ‘You are on your own’. Our offices can help but we are not immigration experts.”
After the budget cuts by the government for CIC, the files of many immigration cases were transferred to other immigration offices in Halifax and Moncton, with the former being opened for public and the latter closed but accepting files till October this year.
The Charlottetown MP said that most of the offices in the region have shut down their counter services. The immigrants who require some assistance from the immigration officers have to take prior appointment from them, on immigration offices which are still open.
Lawrence MacAulay, MP for Cardigan, said that this behavior of the CIC is forcing the immigrants to use CIC 1-800 service or the department’s official website. He said that immigrants who are not good at understanding the local language find a linguistic barrier in their way while using these two alternatives.
“Many of the clients cannot grasp English or French when first arriving,” MacAulay said, “so reading a hard to navigate website or talking to someone at the other end of the phone just isn’t practical. If we need more immigrants to settle in Canada for our future, we are sending the wrong message.”
CIC spokeswoman, Julie Lafortune said that the office was moving forward with the modern system of immigration in the country. She said that the new system makes it more convenient for immigrants to use the online services to understand any procedures they want, as in many cases face-to-face communication is not required. This is aimed at reducing the time duration each case requires.
“With more and more services being provided electronically,” Lafortune said, “fewer applicants will find it necessary to invest their time and money in a visit to a regional office. They will be able to conduct most routine business with the CIC quickly and easily online.”
Lafortune also said that this is also beneficial for the immigrants as they will no longer have to wait in lines or for their turns at the immigration offices and can get immediate assistance online.
Tags: Canada, Canadian Immigration, CIC spokeswoman Julie Lafortune, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, immigrants in Canada, Prince Edward islands