Toronto – March 29, 2018 – April 4 is recognized across Canada as Refugee Rights Day – a day that commemorates the historic April 4, 1985 ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada that refugee claimants are fully protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Refugees come to Canada with the hopes and dreams of building a better life for themselves and their families, and finding opportunities to contribute to their new communities. In 2016 alone, Canada admitted over 46,700 refugees into the country, marking the highest number of refugees admitted in a single year since the 1978 Immigration Act came into effect.
Despite this remarkable achievement, many refugees are subjected to incidences of hate and intolerance.
In our workplaces and communities, we must all make it our duty to stand up to intolerance – whenever it occurs – while recognizing the immense gain that Canada has made with the arrival of thousands of refugee families. We must also join the fight against unjust legislation that discriminates against refugees, such as Section 38 (1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which denies permanent residency to an entire family if one individual is deemed to pose an excessive demand on the Canadian health care system.
While Refugee Rights Day is a reminder of what our country can achieve if we act on our best intentions, it is also a time to recognize and learn from our past and fight for a more just future for everyone who calls Canada home. This April 4, let us remember what we stand for, and remind ourselves that democracy can only be realized when all workers’ voices are heard.
Paul R. Meinema