Liberals relaunch family reunification lottery system despite of criticism.

The Liberal government has relaunched a lottery system to reunite immigrant families, despite a backlash from frustrated sponsors who called its random selection process “cruel,” “heartless” and a “fiasco.”

The lottery system replaced the former first-come, first-served process last year. This year’s version includes additional questions after widespread criticism that some people picked in the 2017 pool did not meet financial requirements or other qualifications.

The online form is available until Feb. 1, when IRCC will remove duplicate submissions and randomly select potential sponsors, who will be invited to apply.

A one-month period opened this week inviting entries to an online draw that gives people a chance at one of 10,000 spots that allow them to apply to sponsor their parents or grandparents.

The switch to a lottery drew a flurry of angry emails and letters to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, his predecessor John McCallum and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The change to a lottery system was announced Dec. 14, 2016, just weeks before applications were to be accepted under the first-come, first-served system.

The change aimed to make the system more fair and transparent after complaints the process was skewed by geography and an applicant’s ability to pay a lawyer or other representative to get to the head of the queue.

The change was also intended to avoid building a backlog that had ballooned in past years, as the Liberal government doubled the cap to 10,000 spots from the previous 5,000.

Despite the increased intake target many sponsors condemned the process, with one calling it “a complete mess.”