1 May 2001

The CCR is concerned about the uneven quality of the consultations on the proposed regulations. In some areas, there has been constructive and in-depth consultation, although not necessarily with great clarity about the precise proposals. In other areas of clear interest to us, the CCR has not been consulted at all.

A related concern is that the paper gives in some areas clear information about the government's intentions for regulations, and in other areas gives no information at all about what concretely the government proposes. This makes it impossible for us to comment on the proposal (since there is none). These parts of the regulatory package therefore cannot benefit from this opportunity for input.

An example is the mechanism for Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (an area for which there has also been extremely limited consultation). The Regulations Paper offers no information on what the content of the regulations will be. What is more, the text of Bill C-11 appears to be seriously confused in this area. Yet this mechanism is to play a key role in ensuring that the program respects the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and meets Canada's international human rights obligations not to send people back to persecution or torture. It is extremely difficult to understand how Members of Parliament are to vote on the legislation when there is such confusion in an area in which fundamental rights are at issue.

The CCR urges the Standing Committee to delay finalizing its report until this area has been fully explored, discussed and clarified.


Age of dependants: broadening definition of "dependent child" by increasing the age from under 19 to under 22
The CCR supports increasing the age limit for dependent children. The current cut-off causes great hardship for families, particularly for refugee families, who are forcibly displaced and who find their families torn apart. In the case of young adult daughters, the need for the increase is particularly strong, since in many societies it is completely unacceptable and even dangerous for young single women to live on their own.

However, we note that children 22 years old and older continue to be part of their family and in many cultures cannot safely (or humanely) be left behind. This is especially true for young single women, students and young people with some kind of disability. There needs to be flexibility to deal with this.

The CCR urges that age limit not be used as a hard and fast rule, but rather as a guide.

We also draw attention to the need for consideration for compulsory military service. In many countries this continues to be an obligation, especially for young men. For their period of service (in many countries more than 12 months) they are generally unable to leave the country for immigration to Canada. The period of military service also effectively delays the point at which these young people become independent from their families, since during their service they are generally not earning more than a token amount and are not preparing themselves for the workforce. Young men and women doing military service should be deemed dependants.

The CCR urges that children over 21 who continue to be dependent on their family be considered "dependent children".

Common-law partners
The CCR welcomes the proposed introduction of "common law partner" into the definition of family class and dependant. This will help resolve problems faced by couples married according to traditional rites and who do not have marriage certificates. It will also finally provide for family reunification for same sex couples.

The CCR is however concerned about the one-year cohabitation requirement, particularly as it affects same sex couples and anyone who is a refugee or otherwise forcibly displaced. In many societies same sex couples cannot safely cohabit because of social and/or legal constraints. People who have been forcibly displaced may also not be able to meet the one year cohabitation requirement because they may have been separated through displacement (this is particularly a concern if the regulations require cohabitation during the preceding 12 months: it is not clear from the paper what the government will require).

We therefore welcome the proposed inclusion of an exemption for persons who have been in a conjugal relationship for one year but unable to cohabit. However, by saying that the exemption applies in cases where cohabitation is impossible "due to exceptional reasons" the paper suggests that the exemption will only rarely be granted. In fact, there are unfortunately very many regions in the world where cohabitation of same sex couples in a conjugal relationship is extremely difficult. Similarly, persecution separating couples is unfortunately not exceptional.

The CCR urges that the regulations not include the reference to "exceptional."

Creating an in-Canada landing class for sponsored spouses and common-law partners and their dependent children
The CCR welcomes the proposal to regularize landing processes for sponsored spouses and partners in Canada. The CCR is however concerned that the in-Canada processing must not apply only to applicants from countries whose nationals do not need visas to travel to Canada. It has in the past been suggested by the government that partners who are overseas will be permitted to travel to Canada for processing in Canada. However, this suggestion has not been followed up with any concrete proposals. There is a need for immediate action in this area, or the proposal will be open to charges of racism, since most of the countries from which nationals require visas are countries largely inhabited by people of colour.

The CCR urges that measures be put in place allowing sponsored spouses, common law partners and children to travel to Canada for in-Canada processing.

The CCR opposes restricting the in-Canada class to applicants who have "legal status" in Canada and to applicants who have a valid travel document or passport. These restrictions are particularly important if, as has been suggested, the H&C guidelines are going to be narrowed with respect to processing on the basis of a conjugal relationship.

It is unclear what is meant to be covered by "legal status" but we suspect that it does not cover refused refugee claimants. Among this group are people who, while not in the view of the Immigration and Refugee Board meeting the Convention refugee definition, come from countries torn apart by war or massive violations of human rights. The CCR believes that the Canadian government must not discriminate against such groups in measures designed to protect family unity.

Take, for example, an Algerian citizen who makes a refugee claim, is refused but not deported because of the widespread human rights abuses occurring in Algeria. She marries a Canadian citizen, but is excluded from the proposed class. From the point of view of the CCR, such a person is, on the contrary, someone whose landing should be facilitated, since she not only has strong family ties to Canada (i.e. a Canadian husband) but is a displaced person who cannot safely return home.

Furthermore those without valid travel documents include stateless persons and persons from countries where there are no authorities in place to issue documents. There are strong arguments for saying that this would constitute discrimination in a manner that is clearly contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The proposed restrictions will have the effect of forcing spouses and common law partners of Canadian residents or citizens to go through the refugee determination system, rather than being sponsored under the family class. A refugee who arrives in Canada and makes a refugee claim would apparently not be eligible under this proposed class, because she does not have "legal status" and, in many cases, because she does not have a valid travel document. Thus she will be forced to go through the refugee determination system, even though her spouse or partner is a permanent resident or citizen.

The CCR urges that the requirement of "legal status" in Canada be dropped.

The CCR is also concerned at the absence of any provisions to speed the family reunion of Convention refugees recognized in Canada. If there are to be measures to speed family reunification for immigrant families, even more should there be measures for refugee families. Currently refugees can include spouses and dependent children on their permanent residence application form. However, processing is often extremely slow, taking months and often years. The processing time only prolongs a separation that began a long time previously, since refugees can spend quite long periods in the refugee claim process in Canada and may have been separated from their families for some time even before they arrived in Canada. This separation is particularly painful for refugee families, firstly because it is an involuntary separation forced on them by persecution, and secondly, because the family members left behind are often themselves facing persecution or living in harsh and unstable circumstances in a country of asylum.

The CCR urges that spouses, common-law partners and dependent children of Convention refugees in Canada have the right to immediately proceed to Canada.

This proposal would help to address shortcomings in Canada's compliance with its international human rights obligations to protect family unity, including the obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child to ensure speedy family reunification of children with their parents. Canada's record in this area has been criticized by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which in 1995 expressed its concern over Canada's "insufficient measures aimed at family reunification with a view to ensure that it is dealt [with] in a positive, humane and expeditious manner. The Committee specifically regrets the delays in dealing with the reunification of the family in cases where one or more members of the family have been considered eligible for refugee status in Canada..."

Length of sponsorship - spouses/partners
The CCR welcomes the proposal to reduce the length of sponsorship undertakings from 10 to 3 years for spouses and common-law partners. It represents a very positive step towards ensuring newcomers' access to rights and services and towards reducing the relationship of dependency created by sponsorship, with all the associated dangers of conjugal violence. For the same reasons, it is important that this reduction also apply to sponsorships of fiancé-e-s.

Length of sponsorship - children
The CCR is completely opposed to the proposed sponsorship period for children of 10 years or until the age of 22, whichever is longer. The CCR calls for it to be reduced to 3 years in line with the proposal for spouses/common law partners.

Parents of all children in Canada, whether immigrant or citizens by birth, have legal responsibilities towards their children until they reach the age of majority. These responsibilities already exist and will continue to exist independently of any sponsorship undertaking.

In the interests of promoting integration and healthy family relationships, the length of the sponsorship should be reduced, not lengthened, for sponsored children. Young people growing up in Canada need to know that they are fully accepted as members of society. A prolonged link of dependency on their parents because of their arrival in Canada as an immigrant sends a message that they are not full members, even long after they have become citizens. It also puts an additional strain on what is in any case often a stressful relationship between adolescent and parent.

The CCR urges that the sponsorship period for children be reduced to 3 years in line with the proposal for spouses/common law partners.

The CCR supports the proposal to offer refused sponsors the option of withdrawing their application and having the rest of the recovery fee refused. This increases the flexibility of the program.

Regarding the exemption of persons under 22 years old from the Right of Landing Fee, while the CCR welcomes any move to exempt more categories of people from this fee, the CCR remains firmly opposed to the ROLF being imposed on any newcomers to Canada, no matter their age.

The CCR urges that the ROLF be eliminated.

Calculation of income
The CCR supports giving people different options for calculating income.

The CCR urges that financial resources of the sponsored person(s) be integrated into the income calculation. For example, parents may have significant pensions that they will bring with them and will be used in the support of the household.

Sponsorship ineligibility

Barring sponsorship for persons in default of court-ordered spousal or child support payments
While there are good reasons for barring from sponsorship people who have defaulted on support payments, there are cases when exceptions should be made. In particular, where there are children involved, the best interests of the child need to be considered. There will be some cases when the best interests of the child will require family reunification, even though the sponsor has for some reason been in default (maybe simply because of a temporary reduction in income).

The CCR urges that some discretionary authority be retained for case by case review.

Barring sponsorship for persons convicted of a crime related to domestic abuse
The CCR supports measures to prevent abusive partners undertaking new sponsorships which will lead to further abuse of vulnerable partners (for example, serial sponsors of "mail-order brides" who abuse their wives). The regulations could also usefully address the situation of victims of abuse who are either sponsored by or sponsors of the abuser. In either of such cases, the sponsorship should be automatically canceled. Since it takes time to achieve a conviction, it is in addition necessary to have effective mechanisms for breaking the sponsorship before there is a conviction.

With respect to barring sponsorships from persons convicted of domestic abuse, the CCR is pleased to see that the paper envisages some discretionary authority. There will be cases when the crime committed was relatively minor and the offender can be considered rehabilitated in under five years. Most importantly, there must also be consideration given to the best interests of the child.

There may also be occasions when the person who suffered the abuse would be the person most negatively affected by a denial of sponsorship. For example, a woman who had been beaten by her husband, but still living with him (perhaps after counseling), might want to sponsor her parents. In order to meet the income requirements, she may need her husband to be a joint sponsor. If there is an absolute bar, she - the victim of the domestic abuse - would be prevented from bringing her parents to Canada.

An absolute bar on sponsorship might also have the effect of discouraging victims of abuse from cooperating with prosecution of their abusers because they want to avoid this negative consequence.

Barring sponsorship for persons in receipt of social assistance other than for reasons of disability
The CCR is strongly opposed to this proposal, which would deny people their basic right to family unity on the basis of their economic situation. If this proposal is brought into effect, spouses and common-law partners will be kept separated simply because they cannot find employment. Children will be denied their basic right to be with their parents because of their parent's economic situation.

The proposal clearly runs counter to Canada's obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, notably Article 10 which states "applications by a child or his or her parents to enter or leave a State Party for the purpose of family reunification shall be dealt with by States Parties in a positive, humane and expeditious manner".

There is little to reassure us in the suggestion that there will be some flexibility to facilitate the entry of family members on compassionate grounds if their presence in Canada is likely to improve the family's financial situation. Current experience suggests that visa officers rarely give positive compassionate decisions. The proposal would also tend to offer solutions mostly to the more privileged applicants (who have the education and job experience that Canada is seeking in independent immigrants).

It also offers no solution for parents who are trying to sponsor their minor children, since minor children cannot be expected to improve the family's financial situation.

The CCR agrees that it is not logical to ask recipients of social assistance to sign an undertaking for their family members. However, it does not follow that they should therefore be denied family reunification. Rather, they should be granted family reunification without the need for a sponsorship undertaking.

The CCR urges that the law clearly state the right of all Canadians and permanent residents, irrespective of their economic situation, to be reunited with their immediate family.


Emphasis on protection
Currently, refugees resettled must satisfy visa officers not only that they meet the refugee or humanitarian designated class definition, but also that they will be able to successfully establish in Canada. The period within which they are expected to establish themselves is one year. This leads to refugees with a compelling need for resettlement being refused simply because they are believed not to be likely to settle in the same time as immigrants. There is a strong gender and class bias in the successful establishment criterion, since visa officers are directed to take into account level of education, knowledge of English/French, professional experience and qualifications, all of which women and people of lower socio-economic classes are less likely to score well at.

The government has indicated in the Regulations Paper that the criteria for determining successful establishment are to be relaxed. We note that this proposal is even less precise than previous proposals on this issue. This limits our ability to comment meaningfully.

In any case, the Canadian Council for Refugees continues to call on the government to eliminate altogether the successful establishment criterion, which has no justifiable function in a humanitarian program. Canada should follow the example of other resettlement countries (for example, the United States) and select refugees on the basis of their need for resettlement, and not on their potential as immigrants.

The CCR urges that the successful establishment criterion for resettled refugees be eliminated.

Ensuring the immediate entry into Canada of persons in urgent need of protection
While this objective is altogether laudable, the proposal unfortunately gives no information about concrete plans, and it is therefore not possible for us to comment.

Facilitating reunification of refugee families
The CCR welcomes the proposal to have a one-year window of opportunity during which immediate family members of refugees in Canada can come to Canada under the same application.

As mentioned above, we urge a simple step that would make the biggest difference in the facilitation of reunification of refugee families: spouses, common-law partners and dependent children of Convention refugees in Canada should have the right to immediately proceed to Canada.

The CCR urges that spouses, common-law partners and dependent children of Convention refugees in Canada have the right to immediately proceed to Canada.

Balance inclusiveness with effective management
The CCR welcomes the proposal to remove requirements for private sponsorship from country of asylum class applications. This will enable displaced persons in need of resettlement to benefit from inclusion in the government-assisted numbers.

The CCR is also pleased to see the proposal to remove the country list from the Source Country Class. The Canadian Council for Refugees has consistently argued that limiting Source Country Class processing to countries listed in a schedule seriously undermines the responsiveness, and thus the effectiveness, of the Class. With the country list, the Class is often unable to respond to situations of need. There are a very large number of countries in which people are facing persecution. A responsive Canadian resettlement program should have the flexibility to be able to offer resettlement, where appropriate, in as many countries as possible.

We are however concerned that CIC intends simply to move the country list from the Regulations to another level.

The CCR urges that the source country list should be eliminated altogether.

Mechanism to ensure that access to the program is linked to resettlement capacity and priority is given to those most in need of protection
The CCR appreciates the challenges faced by CIC in selecting refugees for resettlement in an effective and efficient manner. However, it is essential that the system remain open and responsive to refugees.

The CCR urges the government to adopt a mechanism that ensures that there is flexibility to respond to refugees in need of resettlement and that the government has in place effective and creative ways of identifying such refugees.

Waiting period for undocumented refugees
The proposal to reduce the waiting period from 5 to 3 years for "undocumented" refugees is completely unsatisfactory. Where refugees are unable to provide documents, they should not be penalized. Whether the period of limbo is 5 or 3 years it is unjust.

We note also that the proposal is only to apply to refugees from countries in which there is no central government. There are however many refugees from other countries who cannot provide identity documents, sometimes because the persecutors have destroyed the person's documents, sometimes because procuring documents would put family members in the home country at risk. In situations of war, records offices may be non-functional or destroyed even though there is still a central government.

The CCR urges that all Convention refugees/protected persons be automatically landed by operation of law.

Travel documents
Canada is obliged under terms of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees to provide Convention refugees with a travel document. Excluding those who have not "established their identity" is inconsistent with this international obligation. It is important to bear in mind that refugees are often unable to provide identity documents because their persecutors may destroy or deny them identity documents and because seeking identity documents from the home government may put refugees or their families at risk. Some countries have no functioning authorities that can issue documents. In the context of the landing process, we have already seen how the ID requirement discriminates against women, youth and children, people of certain nationalities and more generally, people of colour.

The CCR urges that all persons who receive refugee protection in Canada be automatically entitled to a travel document.

Status document
The paper says only that regulations will outline the circumstances in which documents indicating status for protected persons may be issued, without giving any clue about what circumstances the government considers relevant. It is therefore impossible to comment, important though this issue is to the CCR.

The CCR is concerned that if the status document is given to some refugees but not others, those without the document and without permanent residence will be left in an even more vulnerable situation than currently, since they won't even have the standard document acknowledging their status.

The CCR urges that Bill C-11 be amended to state that all persons who receive refugee protection in Canada shall be provided with a document indicating status.


Human or international rights violators
The paper proposes maintaining the current definition of "senior official in the service of a government." This is very problematic because it catches people who bear no personal responsibility for wrong-doing and who may even have been working within the government in favour of human rights.

The CCR urges that the definition be more narrowly framed in order to limit it to persons with direct responsibility for human rights abuses, or better still, deleted altogether.

Legitimate concerns about those who have committed crimes can and should be addressed through the criminality provisions.

Trans-border offences
The CCR is concerned at the proposal to prescribe the whole of the Criminal Code as well as other acts for the purpose of transborder offences. The criminal justice system exists to separate the guilty from the innocent, while protecting the rights of the accused. The complexities of the issues to be weighed have recently been demonstrated in the Supreme Court's decision in Ruzic where an acquittal of a woman found in possession of narcotics at the border was upheld, based on the defence of duress. The government's proposal has the effect of circumventing the criminal justice system and allowing people to be punished for criminal offences in a parallel system without the protections. There is nothing sacrosanct about the border which justifies this proposal.

The CCR urges that the category of trans-border offences be dropped altogether, or at least narrowly circumscribed.

Definition of excessive demand
The CCR is very concerned about the proposal to make inadmissible people who are considered likely to use more than the average Canadian over a five year period. It is feared that this may lead to an increase in findings of medical inadmissibility and that many people with fairly minor health problems may be excluded even though they may have much to contribute to Canadian society. The effects on family sponsorship, particularly sponsorship of parents, is of special concern. The measures would appear to be clearly discriminatory notably with respect to the disabled.

The CCR urges that the definition of excessive demand be reformulated in a way that takes into consideration the people's contributions as well as costs and is non-discriminatory.


Removal orders
The CCR is very interested in the proposed regulations in this area, but unfortunately the paper does not disclose the government's plans in this area so it is impossible to comment.

It does however appear that greater scope is being given to the Minister's delegate to issue removal orders without adjudicators. It is highly problematic to give immigration officers powers to make important decisions by themselves, rather than having to submit their arguments to an independent decision-maker responsible for weighing the arguments of both the officer and the person concerned. We underline the need for strong procedural safeguards when people's fundamental rights are at stake.

The CCR urges that the powers of immigration officers to issue removal orders be reduced or kept at current levels, not expanded.

Stays of removals
One of the principal factors to be taken into consideration in evaluating country conditions for removal should be the human rights situation in the country. Human rights instruments provide a clear standard against which conditions can be evaluated. "Dangerous conditions" as a factor is by contrast vague and will lead to arbitrary and inconsistent decision-making.

The CCR urges that the human rights situation be one of the factors taken into consideration in evaluating whether there should be a stay of removal to a country.

The CCR is also concerned at the lack of information about the proposed mechanism for evaluating countries against the factors. Previous processes used by government for making these decisions have been very unsatisfactory.

The CCR urges that the regulations establish a transparent, accountable and effective mechanism for evaluating whether there should be a stay of removals to particular countries.


Factors for release
Flight risk:
A caution needs to be included regarding fugitives from justice, given that refugees may be fleeing false charges. Refugees in such circumstances do not represent a flight risk and should not be considered so.

The fact that a person entered Canada through criminally organized smuggling or trafficking operations is not in itself relevant to the alleged ground of flight risk. Many refugees use such operations because it is the only way they can escape persecution, but they are not flight risks. The mode of arrival is not a guide to the motives or future behaviour of the person.

We also note the importance of clearly distinguishing trafficking and smuggling. The two appear sometimes to be confused in the paper.

A positive factor that should be included is the existence of family or friends in Canada.

The CCR urges that the criterion "fugitive from justice" not apply to refugee claimants, that the criterion relating to smugglers or traffickers be struck, and that a positive criterion relating to friends and family in Canada be added.

Danger to the public
The fact that a person is involved in people smuggling activities does not in itself make the person a danger to the public.

The CCR urges that reference to involvement in people smuggling be eliminated.

ID grounds
The CCR continues to maintain that there should not be a ground for detaining someone on the basis simply of ID. The grounds of flight risk and danger to the public are reasonable grounds, but if no one has any concern about the person showing up for proceedings nor about the person representing a danger to the public, there is no reason to detain the person. It is not legitimate to use immigration detention as a form of punishment or deterrence. The CCR is gravely concerned that the detention on ID grounds as formulated in Bill C-11 will lead to the increased detention of refugees coming to Canada to seek protection, in complete contradiction to our legal and humanitarian obligations, and in disregard of the UNHCR advice not to detain asylum seekers.

The CCR urges that ID not be a separate ground for detention and instead be limited to a factor to be considered in weighing the grounds of flight risk and danger to the public.

a) It is not clear whether the phrase "in order to mislead immigration authorities" applies to destroying documents. If not, it casts far too wide a net, covering people who destroy documents without any intention to mislead Canadian authorities. Many refugees destroy false ID or travel documents, often because they have been led to believe that they should for their own protection. Where the documents are false, the action is of no relevance to the establishment of their identity. Refugees sometimes destroy their own documents because they believe that this may be an effective way of preventing themselves being returned to persecution. Again this is not in itself relevant to their identity, especially if they have other ways of showing their ID.

With respect to using fraudulent documents to mislead immigration authorities, many refugees do this in order to get to Canada (e.g. showing a false passport to immigration authorities - either Canadian or other - in order to get on a plane to come to Canada). Again this is not necessarily relevant to ID. The phrase should at least be made more precise "in order to mislead immigration authorities in Canada about their identity."

The CCR urges that the factor relating to destruction of documents be dropped or at least narrowed to behaviour undertaken with the intention of misleading Canadian authorities about their identity.

b) refugee claimants awaiting determination should never be expected to apply for documents from the government of their country, nor should they be expected to help the Canadian government contact their government on their behalf: such actions could put themselves and/or family and associates at risk. A refugee claimant is alleging persecution, often at the hands of the home government and it is contrary to the principle of refugee protection to ask refugees to apply for anything from their persecutor. In fact, the Immigration and Refugee Board will sometimes refer to the fact that a claimant applied for or received documents from the home government as a reason for refusing the claim (on the basis that the person has supposedly re-availed themselves of the protection of the home country).

The CCR urges that the regulations clearly state that refugee claimants awaiting a determination must never be expected to apply to their home government for documents nor to cooperate with Canadian authorities in contacting that government.

c) there is a need for caution in relation to changes of personal identity information, since there are often mistakes, miscommunications and cross-cultural misunderstandings in recording identity information. The factor should be framed narrowly to cover material changes for which there is no adequate explanation.

The CCR urges that the factor relating to changes in identity information be defined narrowly to significant changes for which there is no adequate explanation.

Detention of minors
We oppose use of detention to protect minors from traffickers. Depriving someone of their liberty is never an acceptable way to protect that person.

As noted above, the paper fails to draw a clear distinction between smugglers and traffickers. This is an area where there is confusion. It makes little sense to talk about minors being in the control of smugglers, since by definition the smuggling transaction is supposed to be a voluntary one involving securing entry into a country.

The CCR urges that the regulations clearly state that detention is never to be used as a means of protecting a person.

Conditions of release
Again, refugee claimants awaiting determination should never be asked to complete a travel document application form. Refugee claimants are alleging that they would be persecuted if returned home. Asking them to apply for a travel document from their home government is equivalent to asking them to re-avail themselves of the protection of their home state, an action which undermines their refugee claim. For some refugees, the choice implicit in such a condition of release would be to either put themselves and their family at risk or stay in detention.

The CCR urges that the regulations state that application for a travel document should never be a condition of release for a refugee claimant awaiting determination.


Refugee protection, Convention refugees and persons in need of protection
The CCR urges that an additional class of persons in need of protection be created to cover stateless persons.

The CCR is aware that there are some stateless persons in Canada who do not meet the Convention refugee definition and find themselves in limbo, in detention or in orbit. A protection class would enable Canada to ensure protection of their rights.

Pre-Removal Risk Assessment
As noted in the opening comments above, the CCR is gravely concerned at the absence of any clear information about the government's intentions with regard to the PRRA, despite the fact that issues of fundamental justice are at stake.

The CCR urges that there be a full discussion about the PRRA.


Collection of debts
The CCR welcomes the reference to "sensitivity to ability to repay." However, it would be important to see and discuss what mechanism is planned and using what factors.

The CCR urges that there be an effective and accessible mechanism to determine sensitivity to ability to repay.