Madam Speaker, a number of years ago, I was the immigration critic for the Liberal Party of Canada. I can tell members that I was at the table when the Conservative Party made the decision to actually cancel the program of being able to sponsor parents and grandparents. They had brought the system to where there were seven- or eight-year waiting periods for someone to be able to sponsor a parent. They actually shut it down. Then when they did decide to reopen it a year and a half or two years later, they put in a cap of 5,000.
This government does not need to be lectured by the New Democrats on the important issue of immigration and how it is that we believe we need to, wherever we can, allow for the reuniting of families, especially parents and grandparents. I am very familiar with the issue.
One of the initiatives we need to recognize is that we increased the number of applicants from 5,000 to 20,000, fourfold in the last three years. That is a significant achievement. Whether the NDP wants to choose to recognize that is completely irrelevant. The fact is that we understand it. This is a program whereby not only have we increased the numbers but we have seen substantial reduction in the amount of time it takes to process the sponsoring of a parent or grandparent.
We continue to reinforce the importance of the super visa, a visa that allows for those individuals who are not able to get their parents into the system, to get that 10-year visa whereby they can come and be here in Canada in blocks of two years at a time.
We do not need to be lectured by Johnny-come-lately New Democrats as to what should be happening on immigration. It is an issue that we follow very closely, and we have a proactive minister who is constantly working with many different stakeholders. Just the other day, in fact, I was approached by the minister, as I know the minister has approached many individuals looking at ways in which we can further advance the way we reunite families through immigration.
As a government, we have hit record numbers of immigrants with a great mix from economic immigrants to businesses to family reunifications, and so forth. This government takes the immigration file to heart, and we are very serious about that file.
We will continue to be diligent. We will continue as a caucus. We have a very proactive caucus. Members of Parliament from all regions of the country in our caucus recognize the true value of immigration, and we will continue to work and strive to improve the system. This is something that, from the Prime Minister to the minister of immigration, constantly not only raises and challenges our members on the government benches but encourages members of the opposition. I am sure they also bring issues to the attention of the department, because we recognize that there are ways we can actually improve. We will strive to make the system even better than we have in the last more than three and a half years.