Immigrant and refugee women have little to celebrate this International Women’s Day

Media Release

                                                                        For Immediate Release

8 March 2012

Immigrant and refugee women have little to celebrate this International Women’s Day

Immigrant and refugee women have little to look forward to on International Women`s Day this year according to the report State of Immigrant and Refugee Women`s Status in Canada – 2012.

Community groups concerned about the status of immigrant and refugee women due to the change in government policy and direction over the last five years came together to compile the report. The focus was on the impact of some of the major changes in the area of immigration policy and practice.

“We are deeply disturbed by the government’s proposal to make permanent residence conditional for sponsored spouses, a measure that will put women at risk of domestic violence and trap them in abusive relationships” said Wanda Yamamoto, President of the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR). The group noted that this measure is proposed to address “marriage fraud” by immigrants, including any who falsely claim to be in a relationship. “There is no evidence that this is a significant problem that needs to be addressed with further measures, especially one that increases the risk of violence against women,” she said.

The report identifies positive changes, such as to strengthen protection and ease pathways to permanent residency for live-in caregivers of whom the majority are women.

“We are concerned that while we have made progress in improving protection for caregivers, some existing conditions, such as the live-in provision, will continue to keep caregivers, particularly women, more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation” said Debbie Douglas, Executive Director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI).

“Despite the improvements in some areas, there are some extremely problematic setbacks on other fronts” said Avvy Go, Clinic Director at the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. “Most notable among these are measures that cause the continuing erosion of family reunification, and the criminalization of asylum seekers who enter Canada through so-called irregular channels. All these have a disproportionate effect on women” she added.

The community groups call on the Government of Canada to honour Canada’s commitment under international law, as well as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by withdrawing legislation and regulations and amending policies that are harmful to women.

Link to report:


OCASI: Amy Casipullai, tel. (416) 322-4950 x 239 or cell 416.524.4950  email:

Canadian Council for Refugees: Colleen French, tel. (514) 277-7223  email:

Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic & Colour of Poverty Campaign:

Avvy Go, tel. (416) 972-9674  email: