Parents and Grandparents Immigrating to Canada
Citizenship and Immigration Canada has re-opened Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program as of January 2nd 2014. The re-opening has been much anticipated by families wanting to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada. Immigrating to Canada or any new country can be a challenge, but for the older generation it can be even more difficult.
With a new language, culture, customs and a lack of social support, it can be tricky for parents and grandparents to immigrate and get settled in their new home country. A senior’s life can easily become isolated. Their families are busy with work or school and they can get lonely being at home by themselves.
Suddhodan Raj Baidya shares his personal experience of his mother in law who refused to join him in Canada because she felt there were too many challenges for her to settle in Vancouver.
“My mother in law refused to come to Canada to live as she felt the places were very far apart and she cannot speak English well and she cannot drive and therefore afraid to take public transport” Suddhodan continues, “She gets quite bored easily compared to her life in China where everything is in walking distance or public transports are much more affordable for her and there are much more to do.”
Here are tips which can help senior immigrants make the transition to Canada that much easier:
- There are many free newspapers in different languages as well as settlement services across metro Vancouver where seniors can get more information about their new community.
- There are local ethnic community and religious organizations which can help senior immigrants and provide much needed support. This can help prevent seniors from feeling lonely or isolated.
- Weather can be different in Canada than what the elder is used to in their home country. Provide them with access to appropriate clothing and transportation can help prevent your parent or grandparent from staying indoors and potentially becoming cut off from the community.
- To help with medical issues check to see if there is an interpreter available so your parent or grandparent can freely share her medical concerns with their doctor. Some hospitals have interpreters available for their patients. http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/servicesresources/translatedresources/
- Language training will help your parent or grandparent settle into daily life much easier. At local immigrant service organizations they provide free language training which can make daily life much easier for your parents or grandparents.
- To make getting around easier, look into senior discounts on public transportation. In Vancouver, there are discounts available for seniors for monthly bus passes: http://www.translink.ca/en/Fares-and-Passes/Monthly-Pass.aspx
- If your parent or grandparent either has a challenge physically or mentally they may be eligible for the HandyDART service. This is a transportation service which will pick up your parent or grandparent from their home. http://www.translink.ca/en/Rider-Guide/Accessible-Transit/HandyDART.aspx
- Look for a local library. Libraries can provide hours of enjoyment for seniors. There are books available in different languages and assistance for them to find something interesting to read. The local library can also host events and gatherings which may interest your parent or grandparent.
Keep active. Local community centres can provide gentle exercise for the elderly which can help them stay healthy and they can also make new friends.
The good news is there are several services available to help the older generation with their integration to a new life in Canada. The Province of British Columbia provides immigrant settlement services which are available free to older newcomers. Their services include language training, basic settlement assistance with learning how to use banking, local transportation, peer support and much more.
To find out more about settlement services available for seniors visit:
Written by Sacha DeVoretz, blog contributor to Bell Alliance Global Immigration Services Inc.