Refugee Rights Day – April 4
Refugee Rights Day Poster
Each year in Canada, Refugee Rights Day is commemorated on April 4. The day is a moment to celebrate the advances that have been made in the protection of refugee rights in Canada, most notably as a result of the Singh Decision in 1985. It is also an opportunity for us to strengthen our advocacy for refugees, refugee claimants, displaced persons, undocumented persons, and immigrants in our labour activism.
On April 4, 1985, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the fundamental rights of refugees. The Court decided that Section 7 of the Charter applies to everyone in Canada. The judgment states that everyone is entitled to “life, liberty, and security of the person,” regardless of their status as citizens, refugee applicants, or as undocumented persons.
Canada’s points-based immigration system prioritizes immigrants based on their capacity to contribute economically. Unfortunately, because refugees are not selected for economic reasons, their ability to thrive in Canada is not necessarily a priority for lawmakers.
Recent findings from Statistics Canada demonstrate that refugees are more likely to experience lower employment rates. These challenges are often exacerbated by systemic racism and the harmful effects of xenophobia. This leaves refugees and undocumented workers more vulnerable to the fallout of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.
With the global trend to limit cross-border movements due to pandemic-related restrictions, it is more important than ever to stand with refugees. As we remember the landmark Singh decision, it is important for us to maintain our commitment to protect the rights of refugees and undocumented people in Canada. This should be reflected in the way we advocate for improved workers’ rights and for a just post-COVID19 recovery.