OCASI 2021 Federal Pre-Budget Submission


August 2021 / Toronto

OCASI made a written submission to the Standing Committee on Finance for pre-budget consultations on the 2022 Federal Budget.

OCASI made the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1 - That the government revamps the immigration and refugee system in relation to:

  • Introduce a fair and equitable regularization program to provide access to permanent residence status for all residents with precarious immigration status or without immigration status, including all migrant workers.
  • Develop national regulatory standards for the protection and safety of all migrant workers.
  • Reset the economic immigration program consistent with labour market needs and work deemed to be essential during the pandemic in all skills areas and skills levels.
  • Relax criteria and increase quotes for family class immigration; remove caps and minimum necessary income requirements from the parent and grandparent sponsorship program.
  • Expand the pilot project to sponsor undeclared family members to include everyone made inadmissible by IRPA 117(9)(d), and repeal that provision in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
  • Repeal criminal inadmissibility in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to remove double punishment and end double jeopardy.
  • End all immigration detention. Pursue alternatives consistent with respect for dignity and human rights when detention is judged to be necessary; and end the use of tracking bracelets as an alternative to detention.
  • Establish a fully resourced independent oversight body for the Canada Border Services Agency.
  • Repeal the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement.
  • Eliminate citizenship fees.

Recommendation 2 - Support the settlement and integration of refugees and im/migrants by adopting the following measures:

  • Open federally-funded settlement and integration services for all regardless of immigration status.
  • Amend Section 91 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and regulations to exempt non-profit organizations and their employees from sanctions for providing free immigration services to clients.

Recommendation 3 - Advance equity and eliminate racial discrimination by implementing the following concrete measures:

  • Create a National Action Plan Against Racism to accompany and provide the necessary details for the national Anti-Racism Strategy, containing concrete strategies with actionable goals, measurable targets, and timetables, and the necessary resource allocations to accompany each strategy and action to address all relevant forms of racism and faithism - including anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Black racism, anti-Asian racism and Islamophobia.
  • Adopt a federal Anti-Racism Act to build a legislative framework and foundation for the Anti-Racism Secretariat - with dedicated and sustainable funding support. The Anti-Racism Act must name and address all relevant racism and faithism, including anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Black racism, anti-Asian racism, and Islamophobia.
  • Mandate the collection of data disaggregated by race and other sociodemographic identities to better measure and understand the racial and equitable impacts of government policies, budget allocations, programs, and practices in the labour market, economic inequality, and poverty; in policing, the criminal justice system and access to justice; in child welfare; environment; health and mental health; housing; social and cultural benefits; education; refugee protection, interdiction, immigration and citizenship; and media, social media, and mass communication.
  • Develop regular and transparent reporting mechanisms and an accountability framework for the ownership and responsible use of data to improve life outcomes and wellbeing of racialized communities.
  • Update the federal Poverty Reduction Strategy and the National Housing Strategy to include targeted actions and objectives to alleviate disproportionate levels of poverty and address core housing needs across racialized communities and without immigration status barriers.

Recommendation 4 - Strengthen the federal Employment Equity Act to ensure racialized and other systemically and historically disadvantaged communities have equitable access to all labour market opportunities across Canada, including through the following equity measures:

  • Add "employment equity" consistent obligations and conditionality to all economic recovery, social and physical infrastructure investments and financial transfers.
  • Use federal government good offices to encourage the development of parallel legislated employment equity regimes – provincially, territorially, and municipally.
  • Require impact and community benefit agreements (CBA's) to be attached to all investments - which include employment equity obligations and requirements.
  • Ensure fair and equitable public procurement contractor provisions.

Recommendation 5 - Ensure equitable access to federal benefits and supports for low-income residents through adopting the following concrete measures:

  • Repeal S.122.6 (5) of the Income Tax Act which defines eligibility to Canada Child Benefits based on the parents’ immigration status.
  • Remove immigration status as an eligibility requirement for all federal benefits including all emergency relief benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Reduce the Old Age Security (OAS) Residency requirement to three years, allowing seniors who have recently immigrated to Canada to qualify and become eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement if they are living on a low-income.

Recommendation 6 - Ensure gender equality by adopting the following measures:

  • Ensure the Canada-wide early learning and childcare plan is affordable, uses a gender and racial equity framework in the development and delivery, and is free of immigration status barriers.
  • Provide targeted funding for racialized, refugee and im/migrant communities to appropriately address gender-based violence.
  • Make targeted investments in immigrant and refugee women’s organizations and programming.

Read the complete OCASI submission.