Judy Broadbent is the Vice Chair of Maytree.
Maytree’s yearly Policy Insights document presents policy proposals prepared by Maytree, its partners and grantees. These recommendations make up the three important “I”s of public policy: ideas, instruments, and investments. They each identify a powerful idea to improve the life of Canadians, the instruments which will be effective in creating that improvement, and the investments that must be made to operationalize the instruments. These recommendations build on the power and potential of public services, and the resiliency of Canadians. You can read a summary of recommendations and download the complete collection of Policy Insights in PDF format. Please share and distribute to your networks.
In 2009, Canada granted permanent residence to almost 23,000 refugees, more than half of whom were recruited overseas through the government’s resettlement program or sponsored by a private group. The remainder were determined to be refugees by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) upon arrival in Canada.
Regardless of how they have arrived in the country, refugees to Canada have experienced adversity and loss. Many have witnessed violence and atrocities; some have been imprisoned and tortured. All know what it is like to live in countries where there is little regard for human rights or human lives.
Many arrive in Canada needing our support and compassion. With some help they are able to demonstrate the depths of their resilience as they carve out a future in their new country. They make new friends, learn new customs and teach us a great deal about true adversity on the one hand and true courage on the other.
It is in Canada’s best interest to ensure these resilient and talented individuals not just integrate – but thrive.
Eliminate the processing fees for refugees
After being accepted as refugees by the IRB through the Inland Refugee Program, refugees have 180 days to submit their application for permanent residence. There is a processing fee of $550 for the principal applicant and $150 for family members under the age of 22. This is a significant financial barrier for refugees who arrive with few resources, particularly young people with no family in Canada.
Some protected persons simply cannot raise the funds before the deadline. In such cases, they are still protected persons and cannot be removed from Canada, but they continue to be treated as a person temporarily in Canada. If protected persons are eventually able to acquire the funds for the processing fee, they may apply for landing on “humanitarian and compassionate” grounds. However, applying through this stream can take several years, acting as a further delay to a protected person’s full integration into Canadian society. It is also an unnecessary financial and administrative burden on government institutions which must process this new application.
About $5.3 million was collected from “Immigration cost–recovery fees for refugees” in 2008-2009. This represents only one percent of fees collected by Citizenship and Immigration and a miniscule amount of the department’s overall budget.
Eliminating the processing fee would entail a straightforward regulatory amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.