Taline Nehmé settled in Quebec about 20 years ago. Back in Lebanon, she always dreamed of returning to settle in the province.
Today, back in Quebec and working as a nurse, she has been trying desperately for over a year to get her six-year-old daughter to join her.
But his request for family reunification is taking much longer than expected. Nehmé says her daughter doesn’t understand why she can’t be with her mother and that the child believes she was abandoned.
“Sometimes I wonder if anyone can really imagine, if they close their eyes for a few seconds, if they can imagine their life without their partner, without their child, what they are going to feel,” Nehmé said.
“It’s the most painful feeling in life, to be separated.”
Nehmé is one of some 36,000 Quebecers waiting for their family reunification request to be processed.
While the average wait time for such requests in other provinces is around 10 to 13 months, wait times in Quebec are at least double that.
Laurianne Lachapelle is also still waiting for her application to be processed. Born and raised in Quebec, her husband lives in Guatemala and she is trying to sponsor him so they can live together in the province.
But she is now considering the idea of moving elsewhere. Her request took so long that she felt forced to terminate her pregnancy, fearing she would have to raise her child alone.
“I couldn’t imagine having a pregnancy, giving birth and having a child, let’s say, on its first day and who knows how long without my husband,” Lachapelle said.
“It’s hard every day. I see children and I want to have one, and I see my friends having children and I am happy for them, but I know that I am not capable of following them in this process.
In fashion now
Although it is up to the federal government to process applications, it is the province that determines the maximum number of applications that can be accepted in a given year. In the province’s current plan, this maximum is set at 10,000 people — a number which, according to Québec Solidaire, is significantly lower than that of other provinces, which explains why requests take much longer than elsewhere.
“I hope that all Quebecers, and of course the CAQ government, will be able to show compa*sion, empathy and allow their spouses and children to find them here in Canada,” declared the spokesperson for Québec Solidaire in immigration matters, Guillaume Cliche-Rivard.
Responding to a question from Cliche-Rivard during question period Tuesday, Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette said she felt empathy for families who are still waiting for their applications to be processed and noted that she had asked that the province have more powers over its immigration process.
Fréchette also said she would be open to making some changes to her next immigration plan, but is waiting to see what comes out of the public consultations on immigration underway in the National Assembly, adding that the family reunification already represents about a quarter of immigrants in the province. population and it wants to maintain a balance.
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