Grant Pakistanis Visas Quickly, Liberal MP

Grant Pakistanis visas quickly, Liberal MP

Toronto Sun
Last Updated: September 7, 2010 5:51pm

Canada should speed up the process for granting flood-stricken Pakistanis immigration visas so they can settle here with their families and loved ones, says a Liberal MP.

Canada should expedite new and existing family class immigration applications, Jim Karygiannis said on Tuesday. The government should allow visitor visas for the loved ones of Canadians to join them until the disaster has ended.

Karygiannis said the situation in Pakistan is dire as flooding has killed 1,600 people and left another 15 million victims homeless.

He said there has to be a policy in place for the way Ottawa handles international disasters.

(Prime Minister Stephen Harpers) government has dealt with humanitarian disasters in a piecemeal manner, Karygiannis said. Canadians want to help and their government should take the lead.

He accused Harper of improperly handling the crisis in Pakistan, charging that Ottawa has previously expedited visas for survivors of the Haitian earthquake, Sri Lankan tsunami and a 2008 earthquake in China.

Karygiannis also called on Ottawa to extend the deadline for when it will match donations from the public to Sept. 30 from Sept. 12.

Federal immigration spokesman Karen Shadd said the government expresses sympathy for Pakistan and its people.

The (immigration) department is aware of the unfolding crisis and we are closely monitoring the situation, Shadd said on Tuesday. While we will not automatically extend a visa, Pakistani nationals may apply to extend their temporary status.

She noted the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act provides sufficient discretion to officers to respond in a flexible and humane manner to emergency situations.