2. Developing a National Framework for Unaccompanied Minors in Canada

Jun 2019
Whereas:
  1. There remain dangerous gaps in protection and support for unaccompanied and separated migrant and refugee claimant children entering Canada and moving through the refugee determination system and other immigration processes;
  2. There exists a lack of consistency between and within Provinces, Territories and regions in regards to the assessment, treatment, and available services and supports for unaccompanied and separated migrant, refugee claimant and refugee children;
  3. Canada still lacks clear and consistent guidelines and legislation to deal fairly with unaccompanied and separated migrant and refugee claimant children;
  4. Concerns have been repeatedly expressed by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in regards to the absence of a national policy on unaccompanied and separated migrant and refugee children in Canada, as well as a failure to distinguish between accompanied and unaccompanied children within Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act;
Therefore be it resolved:

that the CCR: 

  1. Call on the federal government, in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments and NGOs, to establish a national framework for unaccompanied and separated migrant, refugee claimant and refugee children.
  2. Insist that Canada’s national framework for unaccompanied and separated migrant, refugee claimant and refugee children take into account the following:
    1. the development of appropriate legislation, policy, protocols and safeguards to ensure fair and compassionate treatment of unaccompanied and separated minors at all stages of their settlement in Canada;
    2. adequate access to services and supports in all areas critical to the minor’s settlement and wellbeing (including, but not limited to: access to safe housing, education, healthcare services, legal assistance, social welfare, basic needs supports and family reunification), and;
    3. that Canada’s national framework for unaccompanied and separated migrant, refugee claimant and refugee children is developed and implemented in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children.
Working Group:

13. Children in Detention

May 2009
Whereas:
  1. Section 60 of IRPA says that detention of children should be a measure of last resort;
  2. Regulation 249 obliges the consideration of alternatives to detention where children are concerned;
  3. The Convention on the Rights of the Child obliges Canada to give primary consideration to the best interests of the child;
  4. Children are held in detention centres in Canada either because they are detained or because they are accompanying their detained guardians;
  5. CBSA and IRB do not give primary consideration to best interests of the child in their decision-making with regards to detention of children;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR demand that:

  1. CBSA not detain children by considering all possible alternatives;
  2. IRB and CBSA respect their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and give primary consideration to the best interests of the child when making decisions on detention of children or of adult guardians of children, which affects their children.
Working Group:

14. Detention of minors – presumption of age

May 2009
Whereas:
  1. Detention is a recourse of last resort;
  2. Detention of minors must be an exceptional measure;
  3. The best interests of the child must be taken into consideration by the government and its tribunals;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR recommend that, when a person who alleges to be a minor is detained for reasons of identity, they must be presumed to be a minor, until otherwise established.

Working Group:

3. Canadian Commissioner for the Rights of Children

Nov 2008
Whereas:
  1. Canada is signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  2. The Final Report of the Standing Senate Committee On Human Rights, published in April 2007, concluded that “...one of its primary proposals should be the establishment of a children’s Commissioner at the federal level in Canada...” (p. 202).
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR promote the establishment of a children’s commissioner at the federal level, responsible for, among others, the welfare of immigrant and refugee children.

Working Group:

6. Paternal consent for children

May 2008
Whereas:
  1. Women who have been accepted as refugees or permanent residents in Canada and who are seeking family reunification with their children overseas are required to produce a signed consent form from the father, or a custody order if the parents have separated;
  2. This creates an unfair burden on women in some cases, especially in cases of domestic violence;
  3. Such demands are leading to delays which, in some cases, compromise the best interests of children affected;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR request that the Canadian Government find alternative solutions, which correct gender imbalance and respect the best interests of the child, in such cases.

Working Group:

3. Children’s ID and Dates of Birth

May 2008
Whereas:
  1. Children’s entitlement to education, protective services, and other supports is determined by age;
  2. Dates of birth on CIC issued documentation are frequently erroneous;
  3. The process for changing such information is cumbersome, onerous, and lengthy, taking time that child do not have;
  4. There are few security implications for altering birth dates for minors;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR request CIC to review the process for changing data on ID documents, with a view to making the process much faster and less difficult for children.

10. Best interests of the child

Nov 2007
Whereas:
  1. There are serious problems with the understanding and application of the notion of “Best Interests of the Child” by CIC officials;
  2. The practice with regard to “ Best Interest of the Child” has strayed far from the “substantial weight” required by the Supreme Court in Baker and the “primary consideration” mandated by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR call upon the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to conduct a departmental review of the understanding and application, by CIC officials, of the notion of “Best Interests of the Child”; that the CCR, the UNHCR and other members of civil society be consulted as part of this review, and that the results of this review be made public.

Working Group:

13. Post secondary education for children of refugee claimants

Nov 2004
Whereas:

children of many refugee claimants, failed refugee claimants and children who are themselves refugee claimants or failed refugee claimants are unable to attend post secondary educational institutions while they or their parent(s) are awaiting a decision on an application to CIC due to the high cost of that education. These children are considered international students.

Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR call on the Governments of Canada and the Provinces to permit children of refugee claimants, failed refugee claimants and children who are themselves refugee claimants or failed refugee claimants awaiting decisions on applications to CIC and who are not removable, to attend Canadian schools and post secondary educational institutions at the same fees and requirements as Canadian residents.

Working Group:

2. Leaving newborn children in camps

May 2004
Whereas:
  1. Communities are seeing many incidents where sponsored refugees are leaving newborn children behind.
  2. Some children are dying as a result of these decisions.
  3. These decisions are being made based on information circulating in-country that reporting these newborns will result in their travel arrangements being cancelled.
  4. Information on how to report and procedures for reporting do not always reflect the context of refugee applicants regarding access.
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR urge CIC to:

  1. Develop a policy which clearly states that reporting newborn children will not jeopardize a family’s passage to Canada.
  2. Communicate this policy to all embassies and UNHCR requiring that this policy be broadcast throughout the refugee population.
  3. Distribute this policy to refugee support systems in Canada for dissemination in ethnocultural communities.
  4. Facilitate a variety of avenues in which to report newborn children and ensure that applicants receive such information.

20. Trafficking in women and children - urgent protection

Nov 2003
Whereas:
  1. The CCR passed Resolution 24 in December 2001 and subsequently has held regional workshops and a national conference to explore the issues domestically;
  2. The Conference identified urgent protection for trafficked women and children as a key priority;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Request CIC to develop an immediate protection mechanism leading to permanent residence in Canada to protect trafficked women and children and that the necessary resources and support structures be put in place to sustain the program.
  2. Urge that the Urgent Protection Program be expanded to include trafficked persons and that their immediate family grouping be kept intact since family members left behind may be at risk.
Working Group:

27. Refugee claims by children and the Hague convention

Nov 2003
Whereas:

Recent family court decisions in B.C. and Ontario have provided that a child who comes under the jurisdiction of the Hague Convention and who is a refugee claimant in Canada could be returned to the country where she fears persecution prior to a determination of the refugee claim;

Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR work with the UNHCR and with the UN committee that monitors the Hague Convention and with the Departments of Justice of the provinces which are parties to the Hague Convention to ensure that these two international covenants are applied in a manner that does not interfere with a child's right to have a refugee claim determined and not to be refouled to a country where she has a well-founded fear of persecution.

Working Group:

30. Children and access to education

Nov 2003
Whereas:
  1. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has noted with concern in its recent report on Canada that children are being excluded from schools in Canada because of their lack of immigration status;
  2. It is the policy of the CCR that all minor children residing in Canada have the right to attend school regardless of their immigration status;
  3. Education of children is a matter of the exclusive jurisdiction of the provincial governments under the Canadian constitution;
  4. The exception set out in section 30(2) of IRPA has the effect, due to its ambiguity, of excluding from school many children who are not visitors;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Urge the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to amend section 30(2) omitting the exception.
  2. Contact all the provincial Ministers of Education and urge them to ensure that all minor children are admitted to schools in Canada free of charge without regard to their immigration status.
  3. Work with local groups such as the Education Rights Task Force in Ontario to develop strategies to ensure that all minor children have free access to education everywhere in Canada regardless of their immigration status.
Working Group:

28. Family reunification for children with protected person status

Nov 2003
Whereas:
  1. The reunification of families continues to be a serious problem for refugees in Canada;
  2. No financial support requirement need be satisfied in the resettlement of protected persons;
  3. Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, children who are granted "protected person" status in Canada are not permitted to include their parents and siblings, either abroad or in Canada, in their applications to be landed as "protected persons";
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR call upon the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to amend the Regulations [R. 1(3)] so that "family member" of a "protected person" includes the parent and siblings of a "protected person" who is a minor.

Working Group:

14. Separated children national policy

May 2003
Whereas:
  1. The CCR passed a resolution to endorse the "Best Practice" Statement developed by the Focal Point on Separated Children (Res. 19, Nov. 2002);
  2. There has yet to be a national policy developed on separated children;
  3. There is no consistent definition of the term "separated children";
  4. Practices differ widely across the country;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR write to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration requesting the implementation of a national policy that is consistent with the Best Practices statement, and that the policy be developed in consultation with the CCR, NGOs and the UNHCR.

Working Group:

18. Best interests of the child

Nov 2002
Whereas:
  1. International human rights instruments which Canada has signed require that children's best interests be given priority consideration;
  2. A number of recent decisions by H and C and PRRA officers seem to indicate that full consideration of the best interests of the child is not being applied;
  3. There are no written guidelines to follow for CIC officers when assessing the best interests of the child, and the new IP5 manual does not deal satisfactorily with this issue:
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR urge the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration that written guidelines on the best interests of the child to be used by CIC officers within Canada and abroad, be developed in consultation with the CCR and other organizations promoting the rights of children.

Working Group:

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