Toronto – April 2, 2015 – In 1985, on April 4, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that refugee claimants in Canada were fully protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including their right to legally challenge a denial of their refugee status by the government.
According to the United Nations, Canada had 160,279 refugees and 17,468 asylum-seekers in 2014. However, according to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada Tribunal Statistics, only 19,900 claims for residency were finalized in 2014, while 16,500 claims remained pending.
The justice denied by the delayed claims process is just one hardship. The actions of the Conservative Government, specifically its limitations on gaining permanent residency status and citizenship, have also led to substandard protections for refugees seeking to rebuild their lives in Canada.
Refugee Rights Day provides the opportunity to reflect on what happens to newcomers once they have landed in Canada as refugees — and on the importance of a safe haven for those fleeing violence and persecution.
This April 4, UFCW Canada honours the contributions of newcomers to Canada, many of whom face daily struggles to achieve a pathway to permanent residency status. And we can call on all levels of government to protect the rights of refugees by making status in Canada secure; by creating a broad, inclusive, and effective refugee resettlement program; and by fostering welcoming communities that embrace people of all backgrounds, cultures, and faiths.
This Refugee Rights Day, let us redouble our efforts to ensure that we are once again a country that prides itself on compassion, as we renew our commitment to working toward a Canada that is accepting, fair, and socially just towards refugees and all newcomers.
Paul R. Meinema