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A landmark ruling by the Ontario Court of Appeal held that Immigrant Sponsors are not automatically required to pay back immigrant debt of the relatives they sponsored despite having signed an immigrant Sponsors Agreement. Rather the Province now has to proceed with the debt collection of Sponsors in the same manner, with the same measure of fairness, as with other government debt scenarios. This means that the government must take into account the full context of the situation of the immigrant sponsors and treat each debt collection on a case-by-case basis.
Despite the somewhat overstated headline in today’s National Post by Natalie Alcoba, the Court’s ruling does not mean that immigrant sponsors are “off the hook” when it comes to sponsorship dept collection. The government will still require that, in most cases immigrant sponsors will have to pay back the money their relatives collect from the government. However, with his ruling, the government has to exercise discretion in the collection process.
This ruling is a welcome change. Not a free pass. Cases where, for example, spouses are sponsored from overseas only to leave the matrimonial home days after arrival, suggest possible “immigrant fraud” on the part of the relative who used the immigrant sponsor to get Canada. Such cases require a degree of fairness and compassion on the part of the government in the debt collection process. Many well meaning, unsuspecting immigrant sponsors are indeed taken advantage of by savvy suiters who promise love and companionship. Months or days later after arriving, bags are packed along with a new Canadian Permanent Resident Card.
They say “love is blind” . Well, if this is true, then its true for immigrant sponsors. Fairness not forgiveness should be the order of the day. Remember that immigrant sponsors are Canadians and Permanent Residents and should be afforded the same level of understanding that the rest of us have come to expect when being asked to pay back our debts.
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