Family fighting to stay in Alberta accuse government of 'bureaucracy over common sense'

A southern Alberta family who were set on becoming Canadians one day is now in a last ditch fight to stay here after their permanent residence application was turned down and an appeal rejected.

The Lowes have lived and worked in Suffield near Medicine Hat for more than 4 years

Engineer Mark Lowe is now unable to work, spending his days at home with his wife Michaela and daughter Isabella. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

A southern Alberta family set on becoming Canadians is now in a last-ditch fight to stay in the country.

Their application to become permanent residents and subsequent appeal have both been turned down, leaving the couple unable to work and struggling to pay the bills.

Mark Lowe, who's from the United Kingdom, met his wife Michaela in Germany while stationed there with the British Armed Forces. Together with their eight-year-old daughter Isabella, they've lived in Suffield, Alta., for the last four-and-a-half years.

Lowe has been busy working as a millwright following his long army career, which included two tours in Iraq. He has 23 years of experience as an engineer.

His wife Michaela had been working in the oilpatch as a driver before taking a job at a local Walmart when the economy tanked.

"There's been a lot of stress," said Lowe. "My wife ended up in hospital for a week with a complete nervous breakdown because of the stress, this whole nightmare."

Mark Lowe says Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada sometimes needs to look at the bigger picture when dealing with permanent resident applications like his.

Lowe said his wife has a 16-year-old son in Germany who had to be listed on their application, even though he's in the custody of his father, isn't part of the family in Canada and will never come here.

He said they paid the father in Germany to take the boy for a required medical examination but Lowe said the father refused to share the results and the family's application was turned down as a result.

"The father was being uncooperative and in the eyes of the German system my wife didn't have parental responsibility anymore because she had to sign that over to the father back in 2012, before she left Germany," said Lowe.

"Because we didn't supply the information they wanted, they refused our [permanent residence] for non-compliance. It was never enough, no matter what we did or sent to them."

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada wouldn't be interviewed about the Lowe family's case but confirmed their application was "refused due to non-compliance with the requirement that all dependents included in the application must undergo medical examinations."

"The easiest option and the most common sense option is that the boy gets signed off the application, we get our residency, me and my wife go back to work, and my daughter continues to go to school," said Lowe. 

"The option to remove the boy is there because I know of other cases where this has happened," he added. "It's a case of bureaucracy outdoing basic, common sense."

Mark Lowe says the stress of their situation has affected the whole family. (Mark Lowe)

Lowe's daughter, Isabella, has been allowed to stay in school until the family's fate is decided and she just started her third year in minor hockey in nearby Redcliff, Alta.

He said her friends and her future are here in Canada.

"Her whole life is here. She's excelling in school and in her hockey; she doesn't know anything else," he said.

"She knows nothing of the U.K.; she knows nothing of Germany; she even has a Canadian accent."

Isabella Lowe is in her third year of hockey with the Redcliff Grizzlies (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

While they work out what to do next, the Lowes are relying on the help of family, friends and even the Royal Canadian Legion for help, including food donations and money to pay bills. The family also now has a GoFundMe page to solicit online donations.

"Every bit of savings I did have I ploughed into Canada," said Lowe, who now has the family home in Suffield up for sale as they prepare for the worst. 

Lowe said his family's last chance to stay in Alberta hinges on him finding a company to sponsor him as a foreign worker in the coming weeks, which will allow him to start the whole process again.

If he's not successful, he said his family faces being deported as soon as November.


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