Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 7 #7, 5 November 2012

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Current issue and campaign pages:

Conditional Permanent Residence for Sponsored Spouses

Cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program

Refugee Reform - Bill C-31 changes to the refugee determination system

What We Want for Refugees: Four faces, four values

Upcoming CCR meetings in 2012 and 2013:

Fall Consultation, Thursday, November 29 - Saturday, December 1 2012, Toronto

Winter Working Group meetings, Friday, February 22 and Saturday, February 23 2013, Toronto

Spring Consultation, Thursday, May 30 - Saturday, June 1 2013, Vancouver

Upcoming CCR webinars:

Les intersections de l'exploitation au travail, Thursday, November 15 2012 (This webinar will be in French. Resources from the English version is available here)

Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 7 #7, 5 November 2012

CONTENTS:

  1. Bill C-43: Reducing fairness for refugees and permanent residents
  2. Conditional Permanent Residence will put women at risk of abuse
  3. Resources on refugee healthcare and cuts to the Interim Federal Health program
  4. New citizenship language requirements mean extra burdens for refugees
  5. Participate in the CCR Consultation Our Vision: A fair and honourable future for refugee and immigrant families, Toronto, 29 November – 1 December 2012

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  1. Bill C-43: Reducing fairness for refugees and permanent residents

The CCR has commented on Bill C-43 (the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act), raising concerns about provisions that will lead to less fairness, do not honour Canada’s international legal obligations and deny some people the right to appear before an independent decision-maker.

In the view of the CCR, the bill will result in less fairness for:

  • People inadmissible on grounds of security, human or international rights violations or organized criminality
  • Permanent residents facing loss of status because of serious criminality

Andrew Brouwer, who presented the CCR's concerns with Bill C-43 to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, has written an opinion article to illustrate some of the human consequences of passing this bill.

For more information, see:

Summary of CCR comments on Bill C-43

CCR Comments, Bill C-43: Reducing fairness for refugees and permanent residents

  1. Conditional Permanent Residence will put women at risk of abuse

The CCR is dismayed that the federal government has implemented a period of conditional permanent residence for some sponsored spouses and partners.

Under the new rules, if an affected spouse leaves their sponsor within two years of arrival in Canada, he or she could be stripped of permanent resident status and deported.

More than 80 organizations from across Canada have opposed the introduction of conditional permanent residence, because it will trap some sponsored spouses, mostly women and possibly children, in abusive situations.

The CCR is also concerned that women with language barriers, who are isolated, and who lack access to information will be placed at further risk, despite the proposal’s exceptions for spouses in situations of abuse or violence.

The CCR also questions whether the measure will be effective to deter people using spousal sponsorship to obtain immigration status, since they may just remain in the relationship for the required two years.

For more information, see:

CCR media release: Conditional Permanent Residence will put women at risk of abuse, 26 October 2012

Joint Statement on Proposed “Conditional Permanent Residence” for sponsored spouses

CCR webpage on the Proposal for conditional permanent residence for sponsored spouses

From the CCR blog: Conditional permanent residence - More complicated than it looks

  1. Resources on refugee healthcare and cuts to the Interim Federal Health program

On June 30, 2012, the federal government implemented cuts to its Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), which covers basic healthcare for refugees, refugee claimants and certain other non-citizens.

The cuts have led to:

  • Confusion and anxiety for refugee claimants and others affected
  • Confusion for health care providers about patients' entitlements
  • Some people left without any health care coverage, including those waiting for an appointment in order to make a refugee claim
  • Some people left without any means of paying for necessary medications
  • The loss of psychological support services for refugees who are survivors of torture, rape or other organized violence

The CCR is also concerned that the cuts have been accompanied by extremely divisive rhetoric that pits Canadian citizens against refugees.

The CCR believes that all who reside in Canada should be entitled to an acceptable level of healthcare and that Canadians are at their best when they treat refugees fairly and with an open heart.

To respond to these cuts, the CCR is compiling imformation in a special webspace on the Interim Federal Health Program. From this webpage you will find details on:

  • Impacts of the cuts
  • Responses to the cuts from the CCR and other organizations
  • Practical information to understand healthcare entitlements for refugees, refugee claimants and other newcomers
  • Blog posts on cuts to refugee healthcare to bust common myths and to inform public opinion
  1. New citizenship language requirements mean extra burdens for refugees

Starting November 1, applicants for citizenship have to provide proof of their English or French skills, at their own expense. Currently the Government of Canada assesses applicants’ language competencies.

The government estimates that 27% of applicants will need to pay for testing, because they lack documentary proof of their language competency, and that collectively they will pay $2.2 million annually for language testing.

Many newcomers come to Canada already speaking English or French, but without documentary proof such as high school certificates. This is particularly the case for refugees, who are often forced to travel without their personal documents or who may have learned languages informally.

Other newcomers learn English or French after arrival in Canada, but not in a formal language training course, so they do not have documents proving their language ability. This may include resettled refugees who must forego language training in order to work to pay back their transportation loan to the government. It also includes many refugees who arrived as refugee claimants: since claimants are not eligible for newcomer language training, they often find alternative ways on their own to learn English or French.

Language testing may not be equally available in all regions of Canada, putting at a disadvantage people in smaller centres or rural areas. They will likely need to pay for travel to centres where language testing is offered.

For more information, see:

Proposed Change to Citizenship Requirement: Proof of language proficiency - CCR comments

  1. Participate in the CCR Consultation Our Vision: A fair and honourable future for refugee and immigrant families, Toronto, 29 November – 1 December 2012

Our Vision: A fair and honourable future for refugee and immigrant families2012 has been a year of big changes for refugees, immigrants and those people that work with them. Policymakers have had their say, but what is happening to refugee and immigrant families because of these new government policies?

Find out what refugee and immigrant families and their supporters are seeing and doing to work through these changes. Participate in the Canadian Council for Refugees Fall Consultation on Our Vision: A fair and honourable future for refugee and immigrant families to talk about these questions and what we can do together to make a brighter future for all of us in our communities.

Information about the consultation and online registration are available at: ccrweb.ca/meetings Register before 9 November to take advantage of the reduced fees!

Discussions will address issues that challenge refugees, immigrants, advocates and community workers.  In addition to larger plenary sessions, workshops and working sessions will produce strategies for further collaboration and specific actions.  Some of the topics include:

  • Preparing for reforms to Canada’s refugee system after Bill C-31
  • Access to post-secondary education
  • Burma and the impact of recent developments on displacement
  • Workplace benefits for migrant workers
  • Future directions in refugee resettlement
  • Challenges faced by Roma newcomers

… and much more

The day before the Fall Consultation, the CCR is organizing a National Forum on Trafficking to take place on 28 November 2012, 9:30am-5pm, in Toronto. The forum will provide a space for networking, information-exchange and strategizing among NGOs on best practices, emerging issues and policy development priorities to meet the needs of trafficked persons. Interested? Check the appropriate box on the Consultation registration form.

The CCR is also hosting a silent auction fundraiser as part of the Consultation. The auction has started and will continue online until Wednesday, November 28th. Please feel free to browse and bid on the items on the auction site.