OCASI made a written submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, for the pre-budget consultations in advance of the 2024 federal budget.
List of Recommendations
Recommendation 1 - Eliminate inequalities for refugees and im/migrants and appropriately invest in the immigrant and refugee-serving sector.
- Fully realize the promise of higher immigration targets by increasing and expanding sector capacity and resources to provide quality services;
- Expand sector capacity to provide settlement, integration and language training services to all who need them, regardless of immigration status;
- Establish a minimum core funding threshold that will ensure quality services, decent work and sector stability;
- Make permanent the de-coupling of administration from program spending, and cover technology and equipment purchase, repair and maintenance costs to support online delivery of settlement services. These measures were introduced during the pandemic and are set to end by March 2024;
- To be efficient and prudent in managing funds allow agencies to carry unspent funds from one year to the next;
- Provide adequate funding so that the sector can attract, recruit and retain qualified staff;
- Create a National Housing Strategy stream with additional supports to rapidly develop affordable housing for refugees and im/migrants.
- Invest in emergency shelter and housing supports and services to be provided by sector organizations to all refugee claimants, refugees and im/migrants;
- Provide funding support for a reception centre for refugee claimants at or near Pearson airport in Toronto to be managed by Refugee Houses/Agencies, and sufficiently resource refugee claimants’ reception services at other ports of entry;
- Any federal funding to private developers must be tied to conditions - no displacement guarantee, targeted at people in core housing need, affordable term perpetuity; and minimum maintenance and energy efficiency standards.
- Mandate rent control across all provinces which will take away the financial incentive financialized landlords have in evicting tenants.
- Ensure equitable funding support for Black-led and Black-focused organizations, racialized ethno-specific organizations, women’s organizations, trans organizations, 2SLGBTQ+ organizations, and disability organizations and services in the sector; and
- Exempt non-profit organizations and their employees from sanctions for providing free immigration services to their clients, as per IRCC’s interpretation of Section 91 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).
Recommendation 2 - Bring fairness and equity to the immigration and refugee system.
- Establish an independent racial equity and anti-racism review and revamp of the immigration and refugee system;
- Establish a comprehensive and inclusive immigration status regularization program;
- Expand economic immigration selection criteria to include all skill backgrounds regardless of skill level or education, give permanent resident status to all migrant workers on arrival, and make all pilot economic immigration programs permanent;
- Increase and expand family reunification by:
- increasing family class immigration to 35% of annual targets
- removing the numbers cap and end the lottery system for the parents and grandparents’ sponsorship program and remove minimum necessary income;
- Withdraw from the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement;
- Remove criminal inadmissibility double-punishment provisions in immigration law and regulations;
- End all immigration detention;
- Expand eligibility criteria to allow access to settlement and language training services for all who need them;
- Provide direct federal funding to organizations across Canada for immigration and refugee legal services;
- Eliminate citizenship fees; and
- Eliminate processing backlogs including by increasing IRCC staffing.
Recommendation 3 - Advance racial equity and eliminate racial discrimination.
- Eliminate racialization of poverty including by allowing all residents in Canada to access income supports regardless of immigration status and residency period (eg. Canada Child Benefit, Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement);
- Ensure access to Employment Insurance for all migrant workers who pay into the program;
- Create an Anti-Racism Act that will name and address all forms of systemic racism, racism, and hate, and that will provide a legislative foundation for an independent Anti-Racism Secretariat that reports directly to parliament and has its own budget;
- Ensure a whole-government disaggregated race-based data collection, supported with sufficient budget allocations;
- Collect and report on the percentage and dollar values of federal funding to Black-led and focused organizations and racialized led and focused organizations, and federal contracts to Black-owned and racialized-owned businesses; and the diversity of senior management and boards within the federal government and federally regulated organizations.
- Strengthen the federal Employment Equity Act and attach employment equity measures through Community Benefit Agreements to all federal investment and recovery programs to ensure racialized groups and other historically disadvantaged and under-represented groups have equitable access to all labour market opportunities across Canada;
- Integrate Community Benefit Agreements within infrastructure and housing spending to ensure the inclusion of racialized workers, apprentices, and businesses within the supply chain.
Recommendation 4 - Advance gender equity for racialized, refugee and im/migrant women through targeted investments and concrete policy changes.
- Increase funding for women-led women-focused organizations and trans organizations – with priority for women’s centres, women’s shelters, and language and interpretation services across all women’s services;
- On an ongoing basis, make a budget commitment to multi-year capacity building grant funding for women’s, trans and gender-equity organizations;
- Make targeted investments in racialized, refugee and im/migrant women’s organizations and trans organizations and programming to appropriately address gender-based violence;
- Set a clear federal budget line for the implementation of commitments in the National Action Plan on Gender-based violence with measureable targets and timelines;
- Establish a permanent residence program for people in Canada facing gender-based-violence to safely leave situations of violence without fear of removal and/or loss of status in Canada.