Immigration is a joint federal - provincial/ territorial responsibility, with the federal government controlling the numbers and types of immigrants, and provincial- territorial laws and policies significantly affecting their day-to-day lives.
There are several categories of immigrants to Canada. One of the important categories for older adults (parents, grandparents) is to be sponsored by family. Nationally, seniors comprised almost half of the all Family Class immigrants to Canada in 2006.
Reuniting immigrant families has been considered an important goal in Canadian policy. As Family Class immigrants, sponsored parents and grandparents are not subject to the education, language, and employability criteria of economic immigrant categories. They must, however, meet the general health and security criteria.
When an elderly relative is sponsored under the Family Class immigration category, the sponsor makes an unconditional undertaking to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. to support them financially for a period of ten years. This is a longer period than for any other Family Class group.
As part of the undertaking, sponsors must agree to cover the sponsored individual’s “food, clothing, shelter, and other goods or services, including dental care, eye care, and other health needs not provided by public health care” to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada.
In addition to the other eligibility criteria, a prospective sponsor must meet minimum income requirements for the twelve months prior to application. This amount is based on the number of people already in the sponsor's family plus those they intend to sponsor and reflects the Low Income Cutoffs.
In addition to their legal status as dependents, sponsored seniors can be left financially and socially vulnerable by a constellation of cultural, situational and structural factors.
Sponsorship... For Better or Worse: The Impact of Sponsorship on the Equality Rights of Immigrant Women (March 2001) This Status of Women Canada report documents and analyzes the impact of family class sponsorship on Francophone immigrant women living in Ontario.
Government of Canada
Community Legal Education of Ontario
Immigrant women and domestic violence (PDF 269KB) February 2007
Sponsorship Breakdown PDF