Children

Developing a National Framework for Unaccompanied Minors in Canada

Resolution number
2
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
Subject

Convention on the rights of the child

Resolution number
12
Whereas
  1. The Canadian Council of Churches and the Inter-Church Committee for Refugees have cooperated in the preparation of a brief submitted by ICCR to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child about non-citizen children;
  2. The CCR meets regularly with senior immigration officials;
Therefore be it resolved

That the CCR support the thrust of the Brief submitted by ICCR and raise the major recommendations of the Brief at its meeting with officials, namely:

  1. providing training programs on the Convention for the various actors in immigration procedures;
  2. allowing the children of non-citizens to benefit from the Canadian Human Rights Act as of right;
  3. introducing provisions of the Convention into the Immigration Act and Regulations relating to overseas procedures; children in hearings and interviews; family reunion procedures; and access to essential health and social services.
Working Group

Access to social and health services for Canadian children of parents waiting for status

Resolution number
2
Whereas
  1. Some provincial governments are refusing to provide social services, health services and benefits for Canadian children born to parents waiting for status;
  2. These Canadian children face discriminatory and arbitrary treatment that is counter to their fundamental rights;
Therefore be it resolved

That the CCR:

  1. Document the policies and practices of the different provinces in this area through its regional contacts;
  2. File complaints with the appropriate Human Rights Commissions (federal/provincial) to denounce these discriminatory practices of the provinces towards these Canadian children;
  3. In addition investigate possible international recourses with regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in order to file a complaint.

IRB guidelines on unaccompanied minors

Resolution number
10
Whereas
  1. The IRB Chairperson has issued guidelines on unaccompanied minors;
  2. There is nothing in the guidelines to encourage expedited hearings, nor avoiding full hearings, nor on recognizing the principle of family reunification;
  3. There are often compelling reasons to expedite unaccompanied minors and very little difference between their claims and the claims of their parents, siblings or relatives whose claims have already been adjudicated positively;
Therefore be it resolved

That the CCR write to the IRB Chairperson to recommend that:

  1. Expedited hearings be generously used for such children;
  2. The IRB develop substantive guidelines for children which will include family reunification as one of its principles.
Working Group

Unaccompanied minors entering Canada

Resolution number
9
Whereas
  1. The Ports of Entry at the US border have not in the past allowed unaccompanied minors to enter Canada to make refugee claims without a guardian to receive them;
  2. Due to the work of VIVE Buffalo and CIC P.O.E. at Niagara, an agreement has been reached to allow unaccompanied minors to enter Canada rather than be returned to the US;
Therefore be it resolved

That the CCR request that the Department implement a National Policy allowing entry of unaccompanied minors on the same basis as the Buffalo/Niagara agreement.

Working Group

Children's education

Resolution number
1
Whereas
  1. Canada is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which guarantees education for children;
  2. Education is fundamental to child development;
Therefore be it resolved

That the CCR:

  1. Adopt the policy that education is a right of all minors regardless of immigration status;
  2. Write to appropriate Provincial Ministers of Education urging that they adopt the above policy, and, for those provinces where this is already required by law, urging that they comply with their own legislation;
  3. Write to CIC urging that in the interim letters of no objection be issued to the children of refugee claimants without delay prior to determination of eligibility.

Unaccompanied minors

Resolution number
7
Whereas
  1. There are serious problems with unaccompanied migrant and refugee claimant children entering Canada (e.g. (1) difference between Provinces in assessment, treatment and support; (2) inconsistency with institutions concerned with protection and representation of unaccompanied migrant and refugee claimant children (IRB, detention));
  2. Considerable research has been done by UNHCR, Save the Children and other organizations concerned with the rights of children;
  3. Canada does not have clear and consistent guidelines and legislation to deal fairly with migrant and refugee claimant children;
Therefore be it resolved

That the CCR collaborate with the UNHCR to research and develop recommendations regarding legislation, policy and appropriate protocols to ensure fair treatment of unaccompanied migrant and refugee claimant children consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 
Working Group
Subject

Minors in detention

Resolution number
20
Whereas
  1. The CCR called in Resolution 20, November 1993 for an end to the detention of refugee children;
  2. Minor refugee claimants continue to be detained in Canada;
  3. In the case of trafficked minors the government justifies such detention on the grounds that detention protects minors from their traffickers and is in the best interests of children;
  4. The CCR recognizes that in certain cases there is a need for the protection of minors but unequivocally opposes the detention of minors as detention is never in the best interests of children;
Therefore be it resolved

That the CCR call on CIC, in the case of refugee children in need of such protection, as an alternative to detention, to implement other protection models such as “safe houses.”

Working Group

Separated children in BC

Resolution number
19
Whereas
  1. The Province of BC has in place an appropriate model for the protection, care and guardianship of all separated children;
  2. The current BC government is now considering reduction of these services and lowering the age limit for such services;
Therefore be it resolved

That the CCR call on the BC government to maintain or improve the current level of protection, care and services for separated refugee children in BC.

Working Group
Subject

Separated children over 16 years of age

Resolution number
18
Whereas

It has been recognized that the situation of separated refugee children in some provinces (notably Ontario where the largest number of such children arrive) is particularly critical due to the province’s general failure to provide appropriate child welfare services to separated refugee children, and due to the province’s breach of its international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child in defining children to include only those under 16;

Therefore be it resolved

That the CCR call on all provincial governments to immediately take responsibility for all children under 18 years in their jurisdiction and in need of protection and care, in accordance with their international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Working Group
Subject