Canadian Council for Refugees on proposed amendments to IRPA

The Canadian Council on Refugees (CCR) finds fault with proposed amendments to the IRPA tabled by the federal government (as part of the Budget bill, C-50) on March 14/08. In particular, the impact on children with regard to changes in Canada’s obligations to consider humanitarian applications from outside of Canada: From today’s CCR press release:

“These amendments take away the right to have an application for humanitarian consideration examined, even though this is the only option under the immigration law for many people, including some children seeking to be reunited with their parents,” said Elizabeth McWeeny, President of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “Again and again when we point out gaps in the immigration law, Citizenship and Immigration Canada tells us that humanitarian and compassionate applications are the recourse. What kind of a recourse will it be, if visa officers can simply discard the application without even examining it?”

The following are two situations where the law does not provide children with a right to family reunification and humanitarian and compassionate applications are the only recourse:

  • Under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, separated refugee children in Canada cannot apply for family reunification with their parents and siblings who are outside Canada. The only way for these children to be reunited with their parents and siblings is through humanitarian and compassionate consideration.
  • The excluded family member rule (Regulation 117(9)(d)) keeps many children unfairly separated from their parents. The only way for affected families to explain why they should be able to reunite in Canada is through a humanitarian and compassionate application.

“Canada has an obligation, under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to consider the best interests of the child in any decision taken affecting a child. This obligation is reflected in the provisions in the Act relating to humanitarian and compassionate applications (section 25). With the proposed amendment, visa officers would no longer be required to consider the best interests of the child”.