1. Legal Aid

Jun 2019
Whereas:
  1. Access to legal aid in immigration related proceedings directly engages fundamental rights;
  2. Effective functioning of the justice system including the Immigration and Refugee Board requires that individuals are represented by skilled, competent legal professionals;
  3. In the absence of legal aid, vulnerable individuals will be denied access to representation;
  4. There are significant disparities in access to legal aid across the country;
Therefore be it resolved:

that the CCR:

  1. Advocate on both the federal and provincial levels for adequate and sustainable legal aid services in immigration and refugee related areas;
  2. Advocate that federal transfers and provincial legal aid legislation include specific requirements for the delivery of immigration and refugee services.
Working Group:

6. Simplification of change of address

Jun 2012
Whereas:

individuals with on-going processes with CIC, CBSA, and/or the IRB are required to provide separate address notification to each,

Therefore be it resolved:

that the CCR advocate in favour of a centralized notification of change of address to avoid incidents of unnecessary detention and/or abandonment or dismissal of claims.

Working Group:

8. Advocacy and training re Trans issues

Nov 2008
Whereas:
  1. The CCR adopted a resolution in November 1994 in regard to education and guidelines on sexual orientation for the IRB;
  2. The 1994 resolution does not address specific training with the IRB in regard to trans communities, nor does it recognize education and training for CIC and CBSA employees;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Ensure from now on that all CCR policies regarding sexual orientation reflect the diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transexual, queer, questioning and intersex communities;
  2. Advocate with the IRB, CIC and CBSA to include education and training on trans specific, transphobia and homophobia issues.
Working Group:

10. Mailing PIFs

May 2007
Whereas:
  1. The IRB offices are now located in only 3 cities (Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto);
  2. PIFs must be received within 28 days;
  3. Claimants living in cities far from IRB offices have seriously reduced time to complete their PIFs because mailing can take 7 to 12 days;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR urge the IRB to change the 28 days rule for PIFs to the date the PIF is posted, not the date it is received (even when it becomes possible electronically).

Working Group:

9. Persons with mental health issues before the IRB

May 2007
Whereas:
  1. The needs of persons with mental health issues are not being adequately addressed by any of the divisions of the IRB;
  2. The guidelines for vulnerable persons do not meet these needs;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR advocate for the creation and implementation by the IRB of specialized mental health tribunals modelled upon the mental health courts in the criminal justice system.

Working Group:

1. IRB regional offices

Jun 2006
Whereas:
  1. The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) is closing its regional offices at yearend;
  2. This will result in further reduction in quality of access to protection;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Call upon the Canadian government and the IRB to enable the continued operation of these regional offices;
  2. Request that the IRB provide full access to their resources and facilities to all claimants in all regions.
Working Group:

14. Delaying the day

Jun 2005
Whereas:
  1. The IRB will not conduct any refugee determination hearings until claimants have received security clearances;
  2. IRPA requires that hearings be held expeditiously;

Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR request the IRB to set a strict 6 month time limit for delaying a hearing to allow for the security clearance, so that refugee claimants who are ready to proceed can have their hearings in a timely manner as required by IRPA.

Working Group:

21. Palestinian refugee claims before the IRB and PRRA

May 2004
Whereas:
  1. There is demonstrable confusion within IRB and PRRA regarding the status of stateless Palestinian refugees, and the conditions they have fled.
  2. This lack of understanding has led to inconsistent and ill-informed decision-making.
Therefore be it resolved:

That CCR, together with other organizations and coalitions working for the rights of Palestinian refugees, raise with the IRB and with PRRA officials the need for better and more consistent information regarding the legal status of Palestinian refugees and the rights violations they face.

Working Group:

23. Guidelines for conduct of hearings

Nov 2003
Whereas:
  1. The IRB has implemented new guidelines related to the conduct of hearings;
  2. Many of the provisions contained in these guidelines will result in a denial of refugee claimants' right to be heard and right to counsel;
  3. The IRB has implemented these guidelines in a clear attempt to increase the efficiency of the Board without consideration of the negative impact these guidelines will have on claimants' ability to get a fair hearing;
  4. The CCR has previously passed a resolution (15, Nov. 1998) on video-conferencing of refugee hearings;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR call upon the IRB to:

  1. Withdraw the requirement that the Refugee Protection Officer or Member examine a claimant prior to the claimant's counsel.
  2. Withdraw the ability of the IRB to schedule hearings without regard to counsel's calendars.
  3. Direct Members not to impose a video-conferencing hearing on a claimant in the face of a claimant's objection.
  4. Amend the guidelines to delete the direction to Board members to restrict the length and content of a claimant’s counsel’s submissions.
  5. Add clear guidelines on the treatment of vulnerable claimants in the Guidelines on the Conduct of Hearings.
Working Group:

22. Change of venue

Nov 2003
Whereas:
  1. The Montreal Immigration and Refugee Board has been routinely refusing to grant any change of venue to refugee claimants despite proof of hardship;
  2. The refusals of requests for changes of venue have caused hardships for refugee claimants;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Call on the Immigration and Refugee Board to ensure that in all of its regions a request for change of venue not be rejected where a claimant can show that hardship would result from such a rejection.
  2. Call on the IRB and CIC to allow persons to choose their place of hearing where hardship would result from a refusal to grant this choice.
Working Group:

12. Extensions for filing PIFs and abandonments

May 2003
Whereas:
  1. The IRB is denying extensions of time for filing PIFs and where extensions are granted they are for 1-2 weeks maximum;
  2. This does not allow for difficulties claimants experience when they:
    a)are detained; b)require translation (language issues);
    c)require an experienced counsel (e.g. gender, sexual orientation);
    d)face delays in obtaining legal aid;
    e)reside in smaller centres with no easy access to counsel;
    f)are survivors of torture and trauma;
  3. The IRB is declaring abandonment even where a claimant has produced a PIF and has a reasonable explanation for the delay;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Ask the Chairperson of the IRB to issue a directive to allow for longer (1 month or more) extensions for filing of PIFs;
  2. Ask the IRB Chairperson to issue a directive that cases not be declared abandoned if the PIF is filed in advance of or at an abandonment hearing.
Working Group:

6. Access to the IRB for Repeat Claims Presently Before the IRB

May 2002
Whereas:
  1. More than a thousand people are presently awaiting a hearing at the IRB for a repeat claim;
  2. The transitional measures will have the consequence of depriving these claimants of their repeat claim by deeming them ineligible under IRPA;
  3. IRPA bars access to PRRA for repeat claimants who have returned to Canada less than 6 months after their departure;
  4. Many of these repeat claimants returned to Canada more than 3 months but less than 6 months after their departure, and would thus be ruled ineligible for PRRA;
  5. A significant number of repeat claims are determined to be refugees;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR write to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and to the Chairperson of the IRB urging them to allow all persons presently awaiting a repeat claim a hearing at the IRB.

 

Working Group:

7. Exclusion clause guidelines

May 2001
Whereas:
  1. The UNHCR exclusion clause guidelines of December 1996 provide that: a) in principle, the applicability of the exclusion clauses should be considered only after the adjudicator is satisfied that the individual fulfils the criteria for refugee status (guidelines 9). b) an assessment of a claim requires that the nature of the crime and the claimant’s role in it be weighed against the gravity of the persecution feared (guideline 9). c) the exclusion clauses need to be interpreted restrictively (guideline 8);
  2. The Federal Court has said that: a) it is not legally necessary to decide inclusion before exclusion, but it is desirable to do so. b) the refugee definition does not require that the gravity of the crime be balanced against the gravity of the persecution feared. c) the Board must be extremely cautious in its application of the exclusion clauses, but also that the standard of proof is less than the balance of probabilities;
  3. The Immigration Act gives the Chairperson of the Immigration and Refugee Board power to issue guidelines to the Board;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR ask the Chairperson of the Immigration and Refugee Board to issue guidelines to its Refugee Division on the exclusion clauses that would include the principles that:

  1. Inclusion should precede exclusion;
  2. The gravity of the offence should be balanced against the gravity of the persecution feared;
  3. The standard of proof should be higher than a balance of probabilities.
Working Group:

19. Combating homophobia and heterosexism

Dec 2000
Whereas:
  1. The CCR membership has acknowledged the negative impact of homophobia and heterosexism within our sector and membership;
  2. Current settlement standards do not explicitly reflect the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) refugees and immigrants;
  3. There is an apparent lack of commitment to training and education on these issues;
  4. There are serious concerns about the refusal rates of refugee claims based on sexual orientation;
Therefore be it resolved:

That a task group be struck by the CCR to:

  1. Facilitate information-sharing on pro LGBTQ practices and policies within the immigration and refugee sector;
  2. Suggest amendments to existing settlement standards to include LGBTQ issues;
  3. Urge CCR members to implement mandatory training and education within their agencies on unlearning homophobia and heterosexism;
  4. Gather evidence about the refusal rate, processes and practices of the IRB in relation to claims based on sexual orientation.

10. IRB complaint mechanism

Dec 2000
Whereas:
  1. Numerous members of CCR and other refugee advocates have criticized the lack of an effective procedure to deal with complaints about Convention Refugee Determination Division members' and Refugee Claims Officers' behaviour and competence;
  2. The complaint procedures and protocols implemented, to date, by the Immigration and Refugee Board have failed to adequately address the concerns of refugees and their advocates;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR call upon the Immigration and Refugee Board to:

  1. Introduce a procedure whereby complaints related to the behaviour or competence of Convention Refugee Determination Division members and Refugee Claims Officers will be investigated by an independent person or panel;
  2. Develop and implement a policy which clearly sets out what consequences flow from a finding that a Convention Refugee Determination Division member or Refugee Claims Officer has engaged in inappropriate behaviour or has acted in an incompetent manner.
Working Group:

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