Bill C-31, Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
While it may be old news for some, I found myself immersed in this Bill C-31 while doing research on another project. I find that some reservations I had with respect to Canadian immigration policies and procedures where shared by none other than our current Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturism, the Honourable Jason Kenny.
This bill has met with considerable opposition both on and off the floor of the House of Commons. It has seen some politicians grandstanding in an effort to make political gains from opposing it, while others have seen fit to offer up conjecture that it would spell the demise of Canada’s prominence on the world stage with respect to refugee claimants. Remaining, are those whose visionary attributes will no doubt refine and enhance this bill and follow it through to implementation.
Some of the key aspects of this bill amount to good old common sense. There are four specific areas targeted by this bill and they are;
- Reduction of processing times for refugees
- Reduction of human trafficking
- Eliminating abuse of appeal system
- Increased awareness and identification of criminal elements at the point of entry.
Firstly, let’s look at proposals under the bill with respect to item 1, reduction of processing times for refugees. It was discovered that approximately 62% of asylum seekers, primarily from the European Union Democracies 1, have had their cases either denied or withdrawn. Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars are spent monthly on these bogus cases. By eliminating the bogus cases expeditiously we can proceed with alacrity to ensure those in real need of asylum can be processed promptly. This bill would see the processing of applicants from democratic countries reduced from 1000 days to approximately 45 days and they would not have access to the new Refugee Appeal Division that is being created. Under this bill failed applicants would be removed promptly. In addition limited access to social benefits and work permits to applicants from designated countries of origin will mitigate the attraction of individuals from these countries. Bogus applications from EU countries last year alone cost the taxpayers over 170 million dollars.
Secondly, this bill looks at reducing human trafficking by a detention requirement of 12 months, (those under 16 years of age are exempt) and harsh penalties for those convicted including the seizure of vessels, hefty fines and lengthy jail terms 2. This bill would put an end to “business as usual” for these miscreants. It should be noted that victims of human trafficking would be released as soon as their case is approved.
Thirdly, the appeal process would not be long and drawn out as it has been in the past. Secondary to timely, effective decisions, timely removals are proposed. While some refugees will continue to have access to the Refugee Appeal Division and a full fact based appeal, applicants will no longer be allowed to remain in Canada for years at the expense of the taxpayers. 1
Fourthly and finally, the introduction of biometrics, photo and finger printing will be welcome additions to the CBSA tool belt. This should be implemented within a year and is many years overdue. It will eliminate the possibility of criminals re-entering Canada with forged documents. It will require the photographing and finger printing of all applicants for temporary resident visas. It should be extended to include all applicants applying for immigration to Canada.
In summary, this bill says to all who come knocking on Canada’s door:
“If you are in need of protection, and a law-abiding immigrant, you’re more than welcome in this country… But if you intend to come here as a criminal or abuse our generosity, you will be stopped or you will be returned promptly”. 1
This bill, if implemented will immensely reduce the processing time for legitimate applicants, eliminate the possibility of launching appeal after appeal and remaining in Canada for years fighting deportation, reduce the number of criminals entering Canada and ease the tremendous financial burden placed on the taxpayers yearly by bogus applicants. It is comforting to see that some proactive advancements are being made in the area of immigration that reflect fiscal financial, social and humanitarian aspects as opposed to political popularity.