The Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
12 April 2019
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
Re: Refugee human rights and Budget Implementation Act, Bill C-97
OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants is the collective voice of the immigrant and refugee-serving sector in Ontario, and has 230 member agencies across the province.
We are shocked at the inclusion of the unexpected, substantial and deeply troubling reform affecting the human rights of refugees in the omnibus Budget Implementation Act, Bill C-97.
Depriving certain refugee claimants of access to full and independent refugee hearings - is harsh and unnecessary. We are particularly concerned about women fleeing domestic violence whose claims in the US on those grounds are not recognized due to changes to that country’s asylum system. With this proposal, they will also be turned away by Canada. This is shameful.
It is disgraceful that a proposal to strip people of critical human rights protections is buried in the budget bill. That will not allow sufficient and appropriate consideration of the proposal and its potential impact on vulnerable people.
We are shocked and saddened that as we work to counteract the deepening divisive and negative rhetoric about refugee claimants and the Canadian asylum system, the government has chosen to give credence to this xenophobic ideology through its proposal to close the Canadian border to those in need of protection. Use of language such as ‘asylum shopping’ is simplistic, inaccurate and only serves to create further suspicion and mistrust of refugee claimants. Further, there are a variety of reasons why refugee claimants may seek Canada’s protection after having filed a claim elsewhere. They must be given the opportunity to do so.
We urge you to reverse the decision to create this new inadmissible class. Canada’s heart and soul and our international reputation for human rights depend on it. At the very least withdraw this measure from the Budget Implementation Act.
Hon. Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, P.C., M.P.
Hon. Marco Mendicino, P.C., M.P. Eglinton-Lawrence