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CIMM Committee Report

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Government Response to the fifteenth Report of the Standing Committee on citizenship and immigration

safeguarding asylum: sustaining canada’s commitment to refugees

INTRODUCTION

The Government thanks the Standing Committee and is pleased to respond to the Report on Safeguarding Asylum-Sustaining Canada’s Commitments to Refugees tabled on May 30, 2007.

Canada is a firm advocate of refugees and human rights law globally and is a party to several international instruments related to refugee rights and well-being, which outline certain core obligations in the area of refugee protection. Further, Canada has an impressive international reputation for its dedication and commitment to the promotion and protection of the human rights of refugees at home and abroad and for its values of humanitarianism and compassion. During his November 2006 official visit to Canada, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Antonio Guterres, spoke of the extraordinary quality of Canada’s hospitality toward refugees and asylum seekers. He strongly praised Canada’s domestic refugee protection system, describing it as one of the best in the world.

The protection of refugees is a key component of the mandate of Citizenship and Immigration Canada and is central to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). The elements of “refugee protection” in IRPA come directly from the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture. The Act and regulations emphasize the importance of saving lives, protecting displaced and persecuted persons and maintaining the integrity of Canada’s refugee protection system through fair and efficient procedures.

Canada has two facets to its refugee protection program: resettlement from outside Canada; and refugee claims in Canada. Resettlement is the term used by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to describe the legal process of bringing a refugee to Canada to live as a permanent resident. CIC relies on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), other referral organizations and private sponsoring groups to identify and refer refugees for resettlement in Canada.

The in-Canada refugee protection system, through the asylum process, provides an opportunity for persons arriving in Canada from other countries to state their case as to why they meet the definition of a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection. Usually, this claim is heard at the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), an independent quasi-judicial body which reports directly to Parliament through the Minister of CIC. It is also possible for persons who have been ordered to be removed from Canada to make an application for protected status through a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA).

The Government has carefully reviewed the recommendations in the Committee’s report and welcomes this opportunity to respond to the Committee’s recommendations.  For the purposes of this response, the various recommendations have been grouped into ten overarching categories.

A - Private Sponsorship of Refugees

Canada has a proud tradition of providing protection to refugees from abroad by bringing them to Canada to live as permanent residents as Government Assisted Refugees (GAR) or as Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSR). The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has publicly recognized the importance and value of this public-private partnership between the Government and private citizens.

The Government is working to address the challenges identified in the Standing Committee’s Report in order to improve Canada’s refugee programs.

Canada’s policy on the sponsorship of parents by minor children is based on the fact that sponsorship is a serious and legally-binding commitment, and is intended to protect children from becoming victims of smuggling and trafficking. Current sponsorship limitations must therefore remain in place as they serve as safeguards to protect children and they maintain the integrity of the sponsorship program and refugee protection system. 

Family members of minor children who are protected persons are not barred from applying for permanent residence in Canada on Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) grounds, whether from within Canada or from overseas. This allows CIC, on a case by case basis, to assess whether a child is a victim of trafficking or smuggling by the parents, and consider whether, in the circumstances, the best interest of the child would be served by admitting the parents and siblings as permanent residents.

In terms of overseas partnerships, CIC has agreements in place with overseas referral agencies, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and Amnesty International. With respect to the concept of Visa Office-Referred cases, CIC fully supports the Committee’s recommendation and strongly encourages the sponsorship community to sponsor more refugees who have already been approved by our visa offices and by the UNHCR for resettlement in Canada.  For example, CIC recently shared a list of 300 approved Karen refugees from Burma (also known as Myanmar) with the sponsorship agreement holders for their consideration.

B - Refugee Appeal Division

Canada’s refugee protection system protects those who need it, is in full compliance with international and domestic refugee law, and is seen as generous by international standards. In addition, claimants who receive a negative decision currently have access to three post-claim recourses. First, they can apply for leave to seek judicial review of the negative decision at the Federal Court. Most failed refugee claimants apply for such leave. Second, failed claimants have access to a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) where new information not previously available to the RPD is considered. Finally, they may apply for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds, including possible risk upon return to their home country. Many apply for such consideration and are accepted on such grounds. Both the PRRA and H&C decisions are subject to judicial review at the Federal Court. RAD would add a further layer of adjudicative process on a system which already has multiple forms of recourse and is strong, fair, generous and complex. It would also have significant cost implications for both the federal and provincial governments.

C - Sanctuary

Canada has a generous refugee determination system for those seeking protection.  In addition, as mentioned above, those in Canada are entitled to due process and have multiple forms of recourse at several levels, including a PRRA to ensure that there is no risk in returning to their home country and an application for permanent residence in Canada on H&C grounds.

Canada has also temporarily suspended removals to countries where there is a generalized risk to the entire population, such as war or an environmental disaster. Countries currently under a temporary suspension of removals are Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. Country conditions are reviewed at least once a year, and non-governmental organizations (e.g., the Canadian Council for Refugees and Amnesty International) and the UNHCR are consulted before a decision to maintain or lift a temporary suspension of removals is made. Those who pose a threat to national security and/or are involved in organized crime and crimes against humanity and criminals may be removed regardless of a temporary suspension being in place.

Canada expects those under removal order to leave Canada. The removals program, under the purview of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), is key to the integrity of the immigration program and is respectful of the thousands of people who apply from abroad legally to live in Canada permanently every year. The CBSA has a statutory obligation to remove someone under an enforceable removal order as soon as reasonably practicable.

The Government encourages those who would like to live in Canada permanently to do so by applying from abroad. It does not support seeking sanctuary in places of worship to avoid removal as this undermines the integrity of the immigration program. Although there is no legal impediment to prevent the CBSA from entering a place of worship to remove someone, the CBSA has traditionally not done so as a matter of policy. Those currently seeking sanctuary in a place of worship are encouraged to contact their local CBSA office to make removal arrangements.

Regarding the children of refugee claimants who may be affected by their parents’ decision to seek sanctuary, the IRPAdoes not discriminate based on age or attendance at an educational institution. The legislation specifies that those under an enforceable removal order, regardless of age, must be removed as soon as reasonably practicable. In practice, our officers only act on these types of cases as a measure of last resort and taking the best interests of the child into consideration.

As a matter of policy, however, CBSA will only enter schools for reasons of national security, serious criminality or for the purpose of family reunification, at the request of the parent, legal guardian or school official. These exceptional circumstances require approval from a senior CBSA official.

With respect to cases of medical emergencies for those who have sought sanctuary, and members of their family, the CBSA is concerned about the health and safety of those under its jurisdiction and encourages those who require medical care to seek it. In addition, the CBSA considers a person’s fitness to travel and may consult with medical personnel, depending on the situation, before removing someone. When a person under removal order is unfit to travel, medical attention takes precedence and the removal is delayed until the person is fit to travel or arrangements are made to ensure that the health of the person being removed is not compromised. This may involve including a medical escort for the removal.

D - People from countries where there are moratoria on removal: TSR

A temporary suspension of removals (TSR) prevents removals to a country when conditions such as war or environmental disaster threaten the lives or security of the entire civilian population. The decision to suspend removals to a country or territory is made by the Minister of Public Safety. As previously noted, there are eight countries currently the subject of a TSR.

The Government of Canada is sensitive to the circumstances of foreign nationals from those countries that are currently subject to a TSR. Under current provisions of the IRPA, such individuals may make a refugee claim as well as apply for permanent residence including through the in-Canada spousal category and on H&C grounds.

Since the implementation of the TSR, approximately 18,000 individuals from TSR countries have been granted permanent residence in Canada in one of the categories above, which is an acceptance rate of more than 90%.

Prior to receiving permanent residence, foreign nationals benefiting from a TSR stay are entitled to the same employment and social benefits from the Government of Canada as any temporary foreign worker. In addition, persons benefiting from a TSR stay are entitled to an open work permit. They are also subject to the same professional and labour market restrictions as all foreign workers in Canada, including restrictions on licensing and professional associations.

Individuals benefiting from a TSR stay may attend school. As in the case of refugee claimants, foreign students and temporary foreign workers, subsidised post-secondary education is not included in the services offered.

Individuals benefiting from a TSR stay have access to the Interim Federal Health program. This coverage includes but is not limited to: essential health services for the prevention and treatment of medical and dental conditions, including immunizations and other vital preventative medical care; essential prescription medications; and contraceptive, prenatal and obstetrical care. Other services may be covered if prior approval is sought and received.

With respect to the proposal that there be a new regulatory class, the Government of Canada believes the current provisions under IRPA provide foreign nationals benefiting from a TSR stay a sufficient number of avenues for obtaining permanent residence. As noted above, they may apply for H&C consideration. The discretionary nature of the H&C provision is necessary to ensure flexibility in approving deserving cases that do not meet the requirements of the legislation. Each case is assessed taking into consideration the personal circumstances of the applicant, notably the time they have spent in Canada; their integration into Canadian society; and the best interests of any children directly involved. IRPA does not limit the number of submissions made under H&C and refused applicants may seek leave to appeal from the Federal Court.

The creation of a regulatory class for these individuals would be providing a unique benefit to some out-of-status foreign nationals, while requiring others to apply through regular immigration channels. It could also create a considerable draw factor to Canada for irregular migration of citizens from the affected countries.

E - IRB Appointment Process and Backlogs

Canada’s approach to refugee determination is highly regarded by other nations and the UNHCR, and has contributed to enhance the reputation of Canada abroad. The essence of this approach is the concept of an administrative tribunal that emphasizes both fairness and efficiency. The IRB is Canada’s largest administrative tribunal. Each year, it renders, on average, approximately 50,000 decisions on immigration and refugee matters.

The Government is aware of the current complement of decision makers at the Immigration and Refugee Board. An independent review of the selection process of IRB Board Members has been completed by the Public Appointments Commission Secretariat. The Public Appointments Commission Secretariat made nine recommendations. The Government has accepted the recommendations and is implementing them. The Government has established a new selection process to strengthen the merit-based competency focus of the appointments, while increasing transparency and fairness. The Government will increase the complement of decision makers through a combination of re-appointments and new appointments under the new selection process.

F - Safe Third Country Agreement

The Safe Third Country Agreement (Agreement) embodies the commitment made by Canada and the United States to more effectively share responsibility with respect to refugee claims. It is based on a mutual recognition that international cooperation is required to share the responsibility for refugee protection between countries, and builds on a strong history of Canada-United States bilateral cooperation on migration and refugee protection issues.

The Agreement is founded on the fact that both Canada and the United States maintain refugee protection programs that meet international standards and both have mature legal systems that offer procedural safeguards.

The primary purpose of the Agreement is to reinforce refugee protection by establishing rules for the sharing of responsibility for hearing refugee claims between Canada and the United States. It also serves the purpose of reducing the misuse of our respective refugee protection systems, thereby restoring public confidence.

The UNHCR has indicated that it supports the objectives of the Agreement and considers that both Canada and the United States meet their international obligations. In its monitoring report at the end of the first year of implementation of the Agreement, the UNHCR stated: “In general, the Agreement is being implemented in keeping with its own terms and with international refugee law.” Furthermore, the UNHCR made a number of recommendations to improve the implementation of the Agreement. The Government has responded positively to the majority of recommendations. Most of the recommendations have already been implemented while others are in the process of being implemented.

The Government is committed to providing comprehensive public information about the Agreement, including the exceptions, in order to correct any misconceptions and provide clear and accessible access to the facts. Both CIC and the CBSA have taken steps to improve the information on the Agreement on their respective Web sites by adding additional reference materials, including the exceptions, and creating better links within and between the two sites.

Prior to the signing of the Agreement and since its implementation, the government has continued to monitor developments in United States law and policy which could have an impact on the integrity of the Agreement. A process for ongoing review is in place, enabling the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to monitor compliance with these factors for the Government. As part of this ongoing review, a variety of sources are considered, including academic and internal government sources as well as submissions of refugee advocacy groups.

G - Removals and PRRA
Legislative change with respect to the jurisdiction of the IRB:

The Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) provides an opportunity, immediately prior to the execution of the removal order, for Canada to ensure that the removal would not constitute a violation of our obligation not to return the individual to a risk defined in sections 96 and 97 of IRPA. The decision, when Parliament passed IRPA, to place the PRRA process within CIC was to allow for efficient coordination of the removals and risk assessment process. Efficient communication between Removal Managers and PRRA Coordinators within CIC was intended to ensure that removals units did not overload PRRA units with cases and that PRRA did not unduly delay removals decisions. CIC and CBSA continue to work together in this way.

As for repealing the IRPA provisions that preclude refugee claims if a prior claim was found ineligible, or was withdrawn or abandoned, Canada continues to respect its international obligations. Those who are ineligible or who have simply changed their minds continue to have access to PRRA but should not be able to repeatedly engage the IRB in further processes.

As for amending IRPA to allow the IRB to re-open applications where there has been a significant change of circumstances or significant new evidence has become available, the refugee protection process requires both efficiency and finality. For that reason, the jurisdiction of the RPD of the IRB is limited to one opportunity for the individual to make her or his case for protection (the RPD does, however, already have the ability to reopen its cases in those situations where the RPD has breached the rules of natural justice in conducting a process). The PRRA was specifically designed to deal with such cases.

Training of PRRA officers:

All PRRA officers receive an in-depth specialized training within the context of PRRA. This training orients officers to the best approaches to decision making and is later supplemented by intensive training related to processing of cases on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds. The training is developed at CIC National Headquarters and delivered in regions, in conjunction with the Department of Justice (DOJ). The officers are trained specifically on administrative law, with content seeking to facilitate an understanding of the relevant sections of the IRPA; the gathering of evidence and how to assess it; research techniques; and writing a decision.

CIC is supportive of continuous learning and is continually working through its regional offices to identify and address any additional training that officers may require. Staff continue to benefit from exposure to speakers from Amnesty International, UNHCR, Human Rights Watch, Department of Justice, and other organizations who provide updates on jurisprudence concerning PRRA cases and on various country conditions, and discuss PRRA-related standards and associated issues. 

Information pertaining to the education and employment history of individual staff is protected by the Privacy Act. In general terms, new PRRA officers must have at least a university degree. Many have degrees in law, sociology, political science or criminology, complemented by many years of experience as immigration officers or as decision makers in complex legal environments. 

As for specific expectations related to their duties, PRRA officers, as any public servants, are subject to the Public Service Employment Act and to the Department’s performance evaluation policy, which provides for one mandatory performance evaluation per year.

PRRA officers are instructed to consider whether an oral hearing is required in each and every case, having regard to the factors identified in section 167 of the IRPA regulations. The Federal Court has explained in Iboude that an oral hearing is required when credibility is at the heart of the decision. They have also clarified that the fact that a claimant has not previously been heard by the IRB does not necessarily mean that fairness requires there be an oral hearing before the PRRA officer; rather, it involves a case-by-case assessment. The Government does not see a need to impose additional requirements upon PRRA officers, beyond what the law, as interpreted by the courts, requires.

It should be noted that PRRA is currently being evaluated by an independent contractor. This evaluation will be made available on the CIC web site. Once the results of the evaluation have been analyzed by the Government, proposals for administrative, policy and possible legislative changes may be considered.

Removal of unsuccessful PRRA applicants:

Canada has temporarily suspended removals to countries where there is a generalized risk to the entire population, such as war or environmental disaster. As noted above, there are eight countries currently under a TSR. Country conditions are reviewed at least once a year with decisions to maintain or lift a temporary suspension of removals only made after consultations with non-governmental organizations, such as Amnesty International, and the UNHCR.

The international complaints mechanisms do not provide for a stay of the execution of removal orders during the consideration of complaints by the treaty bodies. However, these bodies do issue interim measures requests in some cases asking Canada not to deport pending the consideration of the case. Canada fully supports the important role mandated to the treaty bodies, such as the Committee against Torture, and gives careful consideration to the interim measures requests issued by them. Although these interim measures requests are not binding, as Canadian courts have decided, the Government of Canada has in the vast majority of cases acted in accordance with them. The decision whether or not to act in accordance with an interim measures request must necessarily be made on a case by case basis.

H. Settlement Issues Affecting Refugees

CIC is continuously examining progress to determine the effectiveness of its approach to settlement issues. Since responsibility for immigration is shared across federal and provincial/territorial governments, it is important to respect current arrangements for settlement program delivery.

CIC currently devotes significant resources to the settlement of immigrants and refugees, as reflected by the additional funding announced in Budgets 2006 and 2007. Budget 2006 announced an additional $307 million over two years to support settlement and integration programs for newcomers (in all provinces and territories outside of Quebec). Budget 2007 reconfirmed the Government of Canada’s commitment to settlement funding and indicated that the total investment over five years would be $1.3 billion. CIC is working with provinces and territories (outside of Quebec) to allocate new and existing funding for basic settlement services in a fair and transparent manner to ensure that settlement programs are delivered effectively with partners and to ensure accountability in its investments in settlement programs. This funding will go far in addressing the barriers facing immigrants and refugees through improvements to programs and services to better meet their multifaceted needs. 

The availability and nature of settlement services (which include language training provided to immigrants and refugees) can vary considerably between provinces and territories, and from community to community, dependent on the size, needs and priorities of individual jurisdictions, presenting challenges related to the comparability of services across the country. Similarly, developing national standards would require collaboration between both levels of government. CIC continually works with provinces and territories to determine how best to meet the needs of immigrants and refugees across the country, and to improve accountability to Canadians. For example, CIC recognizes that national settlement sector occupational standards do not exist. CIC is supportive of working with agencies across Canada to improve the professional standing of the settlement sector in the provision of services to immigrants and refugees.

I - Stateless Refugees in the Philippines

Although the Vietnamese living without status in the Philippines do not meet the definition of refugee under the IRPA, and are not considered to be in need of protection by the UNHCR, Canada’s new Government has taken actions to facilitate the immigration of this group, in recognition of their unique situation. 

In recognition of these unique circumstances, the Government has taken steps to facilitate the immigration of the remaining members of this group. As announced on May 22, 2007, CIC is working with the Vietnamese Canadian Federation to identify those still living in the Philippines without status, and to communicate specific information on how members of the group can apply for H&C consideration. In addition, all completed applications received before December 31, 2007 will be considered on a priority basis. 

H&C is a discretionary provision under the IRPA which allows for permanent residence to be granted on H&C grounds. While there are no guarantees of a positive decision, it allows visa officers to assess applications on a case-by-case basis, and to use their discretion to determine whether the case warrants an exemption from the IRPA or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. Applying under H&C allows the special circumstances faced by this group to be taken into consideration.

J. Fee Charged to Refugees

The basic principles underlying Canada’s system of cost recovery for immigration are that the use of fees is an approved means of shifting the burden of financing services from the Canadian taxpayer generally to the user specifically. The fees are set to recover as much of the costs of each service as is reasonable without imposing undue hardship or affecting access to service. The fee for any service will not exceed the average documented global cost of providing that service. Exemptions are only to be applied in situations where the requirements for a fee are incompatible with other government policy or international practice. 

Refugees selected from overseas do not pay a processing fee for applications for permanent residence. In contrast, successful refugee claimants in Canada, as other potential immigrants, are required to pay a cost recovery fee of $550 for adult applicants and $150 for family members under the age of 22. Of this cost recovery fee, $50 goes toward production of the Permanent Resident Card (PRC) and the remainder is applied toward the cost of processing the application.

The requirement to pay a processing fee by protected persons who apply for permanent residence in Canada is based on the policy rationale that these individuals have had access to the Canadian job market prior to applying, so this requirement does not pose an undue burden on them. All refugee claimants are entitled to apply for work permits during the period before and after their claims are heard by the IRB.

On the other hand, persons who are selected by CIC as refugees abroad (Government Assisted Refugees and Privately Sponsored Refugees) are exempt from application processing fees because this group has not had access to the Canadian labour market and in many cases, has no work possibilities, and the imposition of a fee would affect the ability of refugees seeking resettlement to access our immigration program. Many refugees from abroad already arrive in Canada with loans from the Government of Canada which are provided to help them pay for the costs of their medical exams, travel documents and transportation to Canada.

It is important to note that CIC policy guidelines address the issue of family violence as a factor to be considered in the H&C application itself. CIC officers are instructed to be sensitive to the fact that foreign nationals in Canada who are in abusive relationships may feel compelled to stay in the relationship in order to remain in Canada. This is because the abuser may also be the applicant’s sponsor. In order to address this concern, the absence of a sponsor is not considered to be a negative factor in H&C applications where family violence is cited.

CIC guidelines also address the best interest of the child. CIC officers are instructed to be alert and sensitive to the circumstances of children who are directly involved in an H&C application.

The Government thanks the Committee and looks forward to continued collaboration in enhancing Canada’s humanitarian tradition and international reputation by improving our refugee protection programs.

Appendix: Recommendations

  1. That the Government of Canada continue to support and expand the PSR program as a key element of Canada’s refugee program, allowing individuals and communities from across Canada the opportunity to participate in upholding Canada’s longstanding humanitarian traditions.

  2. That CIC increase the lower end of the annual target for privately sponsored refugees to 4000 and that the government make appropriate investments in infrastructure and funding to support that target.

  3. That CIC significantly increase the resources for processing private sponsorships (and other immigration classes) at visa posts abroad, in order to both clear up the existing backlog, and allow for an increase in the number of people admitted under the PSR program.

  4. That CIC provide clear guidelines to sponsoring groups as to the criteria they use to evaluate applicants under the PSR program, and provide clear reasons for decisions to refuse applicants, in order to reduce the high refusal rates for private sponsorships.

  5. That the spouse and children of a person admitted under the PSR program be allowed to immediately enter Canada, and that the processing of the child or spouse take place within Canada.

  6. That a child who is accepted as a refugee be permitted to sponsor his or her parents, and that the parents be immediately brought to Canada for processing within Canada.

  7. That CIC develop new types of overseas partnerships and consider different sponsorship agreement models that will expedite the processing of refugees at visa posts.

  8. That CIC further develop the visa-office-referred refugee concept, by which visa offices abroad pre-approve refugees for resettlement in Canada under the PSR program, and extend the system to all sponsoring groups.

  9. That the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada immediately implement the RAD as provided for in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

  10. That CIC, the CBSA, and law enforcement officials respect the right of churches and other religious organizations to provide sanctuary to those they believe are in need of protection, but that official recognition of sanctuary be made on a case-by-case basis and be subject to reasonable limits.

  11. That CIC, the CBSA, and law enforcement officials open clear lines of communication with a religious organization providing sanctuary, and seek to negotiate a resolution with the religious organization or refused refugee claimant.

  12. That in cases of sanctuary, officials strictly adhere to a policy of non-interference with the children of refugee claimants who may be affected by their parents’ decision to seek sanctuary, including but not limited to the right of children  to attend school (and be brought to and from school) without the threat that they, or their families, will be arrested or detained.

  13. That in cases of medical emergencies, those who have sought sanctuary, and members of their family, be allowed to receive medical treatment without the threat that they will be arrested or detained.

  14. That the government pass regulations creating a new class of immigrants, similar to the former Deferred Removal Order Class (DROC), that would allow refused refugee claimants from moratoria countries to apply for permanent residence if they have been in Canada for more than 3 years.

  15. That the regularization program impose minimal conditions and criteria for acceptance, consisting of criminal and security checks.

  16. That CIC draft and publish clear guidelines respecting the criteria for acceptance for this new class of immigrants so that prospective applicants are able to assess, before submitting their application, whether or not they are likely to meet the requirements of this class.

  17. That CIC ease restrictions on employment, health care and education provided to people from moratoria countries.

  18. That the Government of Canada expedite the reappointment of existing members of the IRB to help alleviate the backlog of refugee applications, spousal applications and appeals against removals, and that such reappointments be made on the basis of an evaluation of core competencies.

  19. That the Government of Canada appoint new IRB members immediately, using the selection process and criteria developed in 2004.

  20. That the government reject recommendation 5 of the PAC report.

  21. That the Minister’s power to recommend reappointment of members be transferred to the Chairperson of the IRB, who will recommend reappointments on the basis of an impartial evaluation of core competencies.

  22. That the Government of Canada undertake a full and comprehensive review of the Safe Third Country Agreement every two years, in light of changes to U.S. refugee law, to determine whether the U.S. system continues to meet internationally acceptable standards.

  23. That CIC take steps to publicize the exceptions to the Agreement through its website, and by disseminating information to U.S. based refugee organizations.

  24. That CIC take immediate steps to respond to the UNHCR’s concerns with the Agreement, as set out earlier in the UNHCR Safe Third Country Agreement Monitoring Report.

  25. That the government remove the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) from the jurisdiction of CIC and instead mandate the IRB to carry out PRRAs.

  26. That the government repeal the IRPA provisions that preclude refugee claims if a prior claim was found ineligible, or was withdrawn or abandoned.

  27. That the government amend IRPA to allow the IRB to re-open applications where there has been a significant change of circumstance or significant new evidence has become available.

  28. Pending legislation that would transfer the PRRA to the IRB, and allow it greater leeway to re-examine claims, the Committee recommends:

  29. That CIC provide better training for PRRA officers, particularly in regard to rules of evidence, the interpretation and application of IRPA, and international human rights standards. The training should include consultations with stakeholders and interested parties on the standards to be used in the PRRA.

  30. That CIC disclose the qualifications of PRRA officers, along with expectations relating to the duties and conditions of tenure of PRRA officers, to stakeholders.

  31. That CIC ensure that section 167 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations be applied so as to afford an oral hearing whenever credibility is at issue and in all cases where the applicant was denied a hearing before the IRB.

  32. That CIC change its policy on removals to prohibit the removal of persons to war zones or imminent war zones notwithstanding an unsuccessful PRRA application.

  33. That CIC change its policy on removals to ensure that any person who is having their case adjudicated by an international body, for example to the United Nations Committee against Torture, should be granted leave to remain in Canada pending resolution of their claim.

  34. That the government begin to develop and make public a comprehensive comparison of settlement services and funding in light of provincial agreements, including in language training provided to immigrants and refugees.

  35. That the CIC introduce national standards to address discrepancies in settlement services between provinces, and make all federal transfers for settlement services contingent upon the provinces meeting those standards, subject to the Canada-Quebec Accord Relating to Immigration and Temporary Admission of Aliens.

  36. That CIC dedicate significant resources to the settlement of immigrants and refugees.

  37. That CIC provide funding for multi-service settlement hubs in areas that receive significant numbers of immigrants.

  38. That the Government of Canada take immediate steps to resettle the remaining 156 stateless Vietnamese refugees in Canada.

  39. That the government immediately eliminate the $550 fee currently required of protected persons to process their application for permanent residence in Canada, and the $550 fee for the processing of a humanitarian and compassionate application for women and children escaping domestic violence.