The following are some comments on the federal government's Budget 2022.
Canada’s immigration plan
We welcome the ambitious immigration plan for 2022, which, as mentioned, is necessary to meet labour needs as well as reuniting families.
However, the 2022 immigration plan is inadequate to address the needs of convention refugees and protected persons and their family members. The target for permanent residence for refugees accepted in Canada is set at 24,500. Yet at the end of January 2022, there was an inventory of 43,335 people in this category. This means thousands of people who have been accepted as refugees must wait more than a year to become permanent residents and reunite with immediate family members who are waiting overseas.
Selecting economic immigrants
The government confirmed its intention to amend the legislation “to improve Canada’s ability to select applicants that match its changing and diverse economic and labour force needs.”
Canada must recognize the value of the labour contributed by newcomers at all levels. We need to end the tiered programs, where some workers are admitted as permanent residents, and some – whose labour is undervalued, though essential to Canada – are confined to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Canada must admit workers required by the labour market on a permanent – not temporary – basis. See CCR's letter to the Minister: https://ccrweb.ca/sites/ccrweb.ca/files/opw-letter-feb-2022.pdf
Refugee determination process
We welcome the government’s commitment to ensuring that Canada’s refugee determination system has the resources it needs. The Immigration and Refugee Board is respected around the world – it is crucial that it receive stable funding, adequate to the claims before it, so that it can continue to strive to provide the highest quality refugee determination, in a timely way.
We are concerned at the news that the government is planning amendments to the legislation so that refugee claims must be submitted electronically. While modernizing systems is welcome, it is essential that people are not excluded – most of all from a process at which fundamental rights of life and liberty are at stake. Many people needing Canada’s protection face barriers to use of technology: the elderly, people with disabilities, people without access to technology or stable internet. Since the introduction of the “Canadian Refugee Protection Portal” last October, we have already seen some of the barriers created by requirement to use technology. NGOs are called on to assist claimants – but no funding support is offered by the federal government. At the same time, the federal government is questioning NGOs’ right to support people in the process through its interpretation of section 91 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
We welcome the commitment to maintain funding of legal aid for refugee claimants, to ensure that they have access to justice in their refugee determination process. A multi-year commitment would however provide greater stability.
We welcome the emergency responses to the situation in Ukraine. Similar responses need to be offered to other emergencies. See CCR's letter to the Minister: https://ccrweb.ca/en/letter-minister-immigration-ukraine-crisis.
Extending settlement service coverage to Ukrainians on temporary visas highlights the fact that coverage could and should also be covered to other populations in Canada without permanent status, including refugee claimants. This will ensure that people who will most likely stay on a permanent basis have a good start in their settlement and are being set up for success.
Use of technology, machine-assisted processing
We welcome the move to greater reliance on digital tools to make processes (for example, citizenship applications) more efficient and easier to use by clients. However, the government must respect human rights. Technologies are known to raise serious issues of in-built racism and denial of access to some. New technology should add new channels, without excluding those who can’t use the technology, and should be designed with careful attention to equity considerations.
8 April 2022