October 28, 2015/Toronto - As the newly elected government of Canada is set to be sworn into office, OCASI is encouraged by the Prime Minister Designate's leadership in countering a growing divisiveness and xenophobia through an expression of unity and appreciation of diversity in Canada. We look forward to the full realization of that message through strong public policy measures, including public education initiatives that will build equitable opportunities for all Canadian residents.
OCASI offers assistance as a civil society partner in addressing the priorities identified by the incoming government and by the immigrant and refugee-serving sector on issues of immigration and refugee protection, immigrant settlement and refugee resettlement. Some of these priorities include:
- Fully restore Interim Federal Health Program for refugees and refugee claimants;
- Expand and expedite government and private sponsorship of refugees including Syrians;
- Remove the arbitrary and unfair Designated Country of Origin scheme, which has created a two-tier refugee determination system
- Grant permanent resident status to sponsored spouses upon arrival, eliminating Conditional Permanent Residence which has increased the vulnerability of women immigrants.
- Restore maximum age for sponsorship of immigrant dependents to age 22 from 19;
- Increase parent and grandparent sponsorship applications, at a minimum doubling them to 10,000 a year (Liberal party commitment);
- Make family reunification faster by increasing resources to process sponsorship applications, particularly at visa posts with the longest delays; and by introducing Express Entry for family reunification (processing within 6 months);
- Repeal the revocation of citizenship of dual citizens, and remove barriers to citizenship introduced through Bill C-24 including longer residency period to qualify, expansion of language and knowledge test requirements and no right of appeal to courts;
- Reduce delays to acquire citizenship and reduce costs (which have tripled as a result of Bill C-24);
- Give all migrant workers (at all skill levels) a pathway to permanent residency;
- Remove the four-year-in four-year-out limitation on migrant workers;
- Support more francophone immigration to Ontario and the rest of Canada, meeting the 4% target (outside Quebec) as a minimum;
Immigrant and refugee settlement
- Support immigrants and refugees to get jobs that match their experience and education through foreign credential recognition, enforcement of employment equity legislation and through bridging, mentoring and job placement programs;
- Reverse the deep funding cuts to settlement services in Ontario.
The Council looks forward to engaging with the new government on how it can best support the settlement and integration of refugees and immigrants, including a review and necessary revision of the settlement allocation model and to build future sector stability through sustained investment.
We will continue to engage with all elected representatives in their role in government as well as in opposition as we work for access and equity for immigrants and refugees.