On June 18, the Senate adopted the report of the Committee on Bill C-280 (the RAD bill) and approved the bill at third reading. Congratulations to all who worked to persuade Senators to pass this bill!
The Senate adopted two amendments to Bill C-280 that were recommended by the Senate Committee on Human Rights:
- Bill C-280 would only come into force one year after being signed into law. The government claims it needs an extra year ‘to prepare procedures, train staff and provide for all the assorted logistics that would be required,’ according to Senator Raynell Andreychuk. This would be one year in addition to the preparation that was already undertaken back in 2002 when all expected the Refugee Appeal Division to come into force along with the rest of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
- Only refugee claimants rejected after the Refugee Appeal Division comes into force will have access to it. It will not be available for claims dating back the implementation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in 2002.
Because the Senate amended the bill, the House of Commons needs to vote on the amended version. Unfortunately, this was not done before the summer recess. It becomes important once again to meet with and write to Members of Parliament, urging them to press for rapid passage of Bill C-280 through the House of Commons. Please take the opportunity to contact and meet with your Member of Parliament while they are in your constituency over the summer.
For more information on RAD campaign action, including tips on organizing a meeting with your Member of Parliament, please see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/eng/campaigns/RADaction.htm
For the CCR’s press release welcoming the long-awaited passage of Bill C-280 through the Senate, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/eng/media/pressreleases/20june08.htm
For a transcript of the debates on the Refugee Appeal Division at the Senate, see:
Despite a recommendation by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration that amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) under Bill C-50 be removed from the budget bill for separate consideration, Parliament has proceeded with a vote on Bill C-50 as part of the budget bill in both the House of Commons and the Senate. The bill was passed without amendment before Parliament broke for its summer recess on 17 June.
Among the changes included in the bill, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration now has powers to issue instructions to prioritize certain applications over others. The CCR is concerned that:
- The amendments make use of immigration primarily to meet Canadian employers’ needs, without regard to broader Canadian interests. This includes the problematic increasing reliance on temporary work permits. Canada needs to consider immigrants as full participants in society, not simply as disposable units to fill currently available jobs.
- These amendments eliminate the right to permanent residence for applicants who meet the requirements of the Act.
- These amendments eliminate the right to have an application for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds examined outside of Canada.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada has apparently instructed visa posts not to process applications submitted after 26 February 2008. Applications have been put on hold until further notice and until the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration issues instructions as to which applications will be given priority and which ones will be returned unprocessed.
For the news release ‘Changes to improve immigration system pass; consultations next step’, from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 17 June 2008, see: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/releases/2008/2008-06-17.asp
For relevant news stories, see:
‘New immigration reforms put applications on hold’, Toronto Star, 21 June 2008:
The CCR has developed a number of resources outlining concerns over the proposed amendments, frequently asked questions about the changes, as well as a letter that organizations can use to write to the Prime Minister. These can be found on the CCR website at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/c50faq.htm
Following mounting public pressure over the rapidly increasing backlog, Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, announced a new series of appointments and re-appointments of adjudicators to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). Despite these appointments, the IRB remains significantly short of members, and the backlog continues to grow to record numbers. At the end of March 2008, there were 42,300 claims pending, dramatically up from 23,500 at the end of December 2006.
For a recent article on appointments and reappointments to the IRB, see ‘Tories act on refugee board vacancies’, Toronto Star, 25 June 2008: http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/448784
For a copy of the press release announcing the latest ‘Appointments and re-appointments to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada’, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 24 June 2008: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/releases/2008/2008-06-24.asp
Problematic refusals by Canadian visa officers of some refugees continue to be a concern for private sponsorship groups. A recent example was Canada’s refusal of a number of Iraqi refugees of Armenian origin, on the basis that they could go to Armenia, a country that needs international assistance to support the refugees already on its territory. One of those refused by Canada subsequently applied for a visa to Armenia and was refused. Canada is the only country known to refuse Iraqis on this basis. The CCR has brought this issue to the attention of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
More generally, the Canadian Council for Refugees continues to collect cases of particularly problematic refusals of privately sponsored refugees, with a view to further advocacy. Repeated interventions by the CCR have contributed to CIC’s decision to do a quality assurance review of visa office decision-making in privately sponsored refugee cases. The review is currently ongoing.
For recent media coverage of Iraqis of Armenian origin rejected by Canada, see ‘Shock as Canada rejects Iraqi refugees’, Toronto Star, 23 June 2008: http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/447476
In December 2006, the CCR published an Analysis of refusals of Iraqi private sponsorship applications at Damascus, http://www.ccrweb.ca/IraqiPSRrefusals.pdf. Subsequent to that report, the acceptance rate of Iraqi refugees at the Damascus visa post improved markedly.
Not everyone realizes that resettled refugees have to pay the costs of transportation to Canada and the required medical exams. Most refugees are given a loan by the Canadian government to cover these costs. Even fewer people see the burden of repaying transportation loans and its significant impact on the successful integration of resettled refugees and their families.
The unseen cost of transportation loans was highlighted by youth participants at the CCR’s Consultation in Edmonton in spring 2007. The CCR has now adopted a resolution calling on the government to absorb the costs of resettlement without decreasing the number of refugees resettled in Canada.
There are already groups doing advocacy on this issue in various regions in Canada, including an active coalition in Edmonton. The CCR will be developing a national campaign in the coming weeks and months. If you and your organization are interested in working together on the campaign to end the burden of loans for resettled refugees, contact Janet Dench at: email@example.com
For the resolution on transportation loans adopted by the CCR membership at the 2008 Spring Consultation in Winnipeg, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/resmay08.htm
Great news! Since the CCR published profiles of individuals and families affected by Regulation 117(9)(d), the Excluded Family Member rule, several highlighted families have received positive news.
- Akino, age 16, has recently been reunited with his mother and brother in Vancouver.
- Quenty Largao, age 3, has been granted a temporary resident permit to be reunited with his family in Edmonton. He will be able to apply for permanent residency.
- Meraj and Samia, ages 16 and 17, have received news that their applications for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds have been accepted. Processing of their permanent residence visas is being finalized.
- Niloufar, age 2, is being issued a temporary resident permit. Her mother in Saskatoon is still waiting anxiously for final arrangements.
- The government did not contest Farhad’s application for judicial review, so the application is back before the visa office for a new decision. This time, the visa office will, we hope, consider the best interests of Ali, Farhad’s young son in Montreal, who is separated from his father.
R. 117(9)(d) bars family members if they were not examined by an immigration officer when the sponsor immigrated to Canada.
The CCR has also discussed the need for a better solution to R. 117(9)(d) with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) at a high level. CIC is looking into some operational measures to address concerns with how affected families are currently dealt with by the system.
The CCR continues to urge you to contact your Member of Parliament to call for the repeal of Regulation 117(9)(d), which has a devastating impact on children. While Akino, Quenty, Meraj and Samia have received good news on their cases, many others continue to wait years to be reunited with family members in Canada.
For recent articles on Quenty Largao and his family, see:
‘Regulation 117(9)(d) keeps Quenty, age 3, from family’, Edmonton Journal, 2 June 2008:
‘Sierra Leone boy effectively orphaned by Canadian bureaucracy’, Edmonton Journal, 3 June 2008: http://tinyurl.com
For the profiles of others like Quenty, who are affected by Regulation 117(9)(d), see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/famexcluprofilsEN.pdf
For more information about the CCR’s campaign for speedy family reunification see: www.reunification.ca
Do you want to be part of efforts to promote rights for refugees? Want to participate in in-depth discussions on pressing issues affecting refugees and immigrants in Canada? Looking to share information and strategies with others from across Canada? Come to the CCR Summer Working Group meetings in Montreal!
Moving forward on issues, Getting involved: The Working Group meetings are a chance to:
- advance many of the projects and positions adopted during CCR Consultations.
- look at issues in greater depth and plan local and national actions, all in a setting that encourages greater individual participation.
- become more involved in CCR activities at the national level, lending your experience and perspectives to the CCR’s work.
Networking, Learning: The Working Group meetings provide an excellent opportunity to:
- get to know others working on issues affecting refugees and immigrants.
- see links between many issues nationally and locally, and how they are relevant to our work with refugees and immigrants.
When: 5-6 September 2008, 9:30am – 5 pm
Where: St. James the Apostle Church, 1439 Ste Catherine Street W., Montreal
For more information and for a copy of the Working Group promotional pamphlet, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/eng/about/meetings.htm
Looking for eye-catching materials to highlight refugee and immigrant rights, your actions on behalf of refugees and immigrants and the CCR's 30th anniversary in your community?
Look no further! Now available on order from the CCR office and on the CCR website:
- Pamphlet: Justice for Refugees and Immigrants: Some key issues
'Justice for Refugees and Immigrants: Some key issues' is a new CCR pamphlet that highlights some of the key issues and challenges that CCR members address including: making family reunification a priority, the sponsorship of Iraqi refugees, protection for trafficked persons, the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement and gender issues.
This pamphlet makes a great complement to any refugee or immigrant rights materials that you use in reaching out to members of your local community.
This pamphlet is available from the CCR office (for the cost of shipping only) or you can download and print it from the CCR website at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/justicepamphletEN.pdf
- Poster: 30 Years of Building a Home of Justice for Refugees and Immigrants
Place your order for 18''x24'' bilingual posters on the theme: '30 Years of Building a Home of Justice for Refugees and Immigrants'. These are available for $5 for 5 posters for CCR members (includes shipping costs) or $10 for 5 posters for non-CCR members (includes shipping costs).
The poster is also available in a smaller 8.5''x11'' size or to download as an image file at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/30anniv/images/CCR30an.jpg)
To order download, fill out and submit the publication order form at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/publicationsorderform.pdf or call Guadalupe Macias at the CCR office (514-277-7223).
About the CCR’s 30th anniversary:
For more information about the CCR’s 30th anniversary and ideas for celebrating in your community, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/30anniv/home.htm or click on the CCR 30th anniversary logo at: www.ccrweb.ca
Looking for other suggestions? Contact Colleen French, Communication and Networking Coordinator at: firstname.lastname@example.org for additional ideas and past successes.