Statement for International Women's Day 2016

On International Women’s Day, the CCR reflects on the situation of newcomer women in Canada, and on opportunities for improvements in the coming years.

The CCR welcomes the announcement by Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum that the government will soon follow through on its campaign promise to repeal conditional permanent residence. Since its implementation in 2012, this measure has made sponsored spouses, particularly women, more vulnerable to abuse and has forced some to remain in abusive relationships in order to avoid losing status in Canada.

We were also pleased to note the Minister’s reflections about finding solutions for undocumented migrants, many of whom are women. They and their children find themselves in precarious and vulnerable situations due to their lack of status.

The CCR continues to call on the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to develop a policy on violence against women. Too often women are deliberately kept without secure status by their abusive partners, and then detained and deported when their lack of status becomes known to CBSA.

We remain concerned about the impact of changes to the almost entirely female Caregiver Program introduced by the previous federal government, which place caps on applications for permanent residence, thus removing the guaranteed pathway to permanent status in Canada.

Caregivers and accepted refugees are also anxiously awaiting the fulfillment of the government’s commitment to reduce processing times: in both categories the exceptionally long delays for processing permanent residence and family reunification applications means that many mothers are separated from their children for many years.

The CCR continues to be concerned about non-citizen women who have been trafficked into Canada. Existing measures to offer them protection and support are insufficient. In order to respect their human rights it is crucial that the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act be amended to guarantee protection to survivors of trafficking. Canada also needs to offer adequate support to trafficked persons and faster access to permanent residence.

The CCR urges the government to abolish the Designated Country of Origin regime for refugee claims. Women fleeing gender-based violence are particularly affected by the policy of deeming certain countries “safe”, since violence against women is widespread in many countries that appear stable and democratic.

8 March 2016