Toronto / August 7, 2020
OCASI provided a written submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance for its pre-budget consultations.
The OCASI submission called for a revamp of the immigration and refugee system to make the systems fair and more accessible. OCASI also made recommendations to advance racial equity and eliminate racial discrimination.
Recommendation 1 – Revamp the immigration and refugee system as follows:
- All residents with precarious immigration status in Canada can access permanent residence; and all pilot programs for regularization are made permanent (including programs for domestic violence survivors, caregivers, vulnerable workers, and undeclared family members) while relaxing the rules for the agri-worker pilot program and expanding it to other workers and sectors.
- The economic immigration program is reset consistent with labour market needs and work deemed to be essential during the pandemic in all skills areas and skills levels. Future immigration selection must include all occupations at all skills and all skill levels in the ten sectors in the National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure.
- Family class immigration is reset to least 35% of total annual immigration intake; and re-instate the parent and grandparent sponsorship program and remove the minimum necessary income criteria.
- Open access to all federally-funded settlement and integration services for all who need it regardless of immigration status.
- Amend Section 91 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and regulations to exempt non-profit settlement agencies and their employees from sanctions for providing free immigration services for their clients.
- Repeal criminal inadmissibility in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to remove double punishment, and amend the Quarantine Act to make sure temporary foreign workers and seasonal agricultural workers are not penalized for their employers’ failure to comply with quarantine measures.
- End all immigration detention, and pursue alternatives in situations where detention is judged to be necessary, consistent with respect for human rights and dignity; and end the use of tracking bracelets for immigration detainees.
- Establish a fully resourced independent oversight body for Canada Border Service Agency.
- Immediately stop sending refugee claimants back to the United States and suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA); and accept the July 22, 2020 judgement of the Federal Court that the STCA is of no force or effect.
- Eliminate citizenship fees.
- Work with provincial and territorial governments and accrediting bodies to streamline the recognition of foreign credentials and experience.
Recommendation 2 – Advance racial equity and eliminate racial discrimination by implementing the following concrete measures:
- Mandate the collection of data disaggregated by race and other socio-demographic identities to better measure and understand the racial impact of government policies, programs, and practices in the labour market, economic inequality, and poverty; criminal justice system and access to justice; child welfare; environment; health and mental health; housing; social and cultural benefits; education; refugee protection, interdiction and immigration and citizenship; and media, social media, and mass communication.
- Undertake a racial equity review of all COVID-19 emergency measures and end all civil liberties restrictions.
- Do not implement penalties for the collection of CERB. The quasi-criminalization of CERB recipients will disproportionately impact racialized communities who are overrepresented in low-wage and service sector employment and have faced a disproportionate job loss.
- Create an Anti-Racism Act for Canada that gives a legislative foundation for the Anti-Racism Secretariat, which will receive ongoing, sustainable funding and resourcing. Ensure the Anti-Racism Act will name and address all forms of racism including anti-Asian racism, anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism.
- Create a National Action Plan Against Racism to accompany the national Anti-Racism Strategy, containing concrete strategies with actionable goals, measurable targets, and timetables, and the necessary resource allocation that accompanies each strategy and action to address all forms of racism.
- Amend the federal Poverty Reduction Strategy to have specific focus and actions on alleviating disproportionate levels of poverty in racialized communities.
- Strengthen the federal Employment Equity Act and attach employment equity measures through community benefits agreements on all federal investment and recovery programs, to ensure racialized groups and other underrepresented groups have equitable access to any new jobs created.
- Fund efforts across Canada to address anti-Asian, anti-Black, and anti-Indigenous racism and discrimination.
- Remove all immigration status and residence period barriers to accessing income supports and other supports and benefits including CERB, the Canada Child Benefit and Old Age Security.