Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney introduced the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act on February 16, 2012.
This legislation proposes further reforms to make the asylum system faster and fairer, steps to human smuggling issues, and to make it mandatory to provide biometrics with applications for temporary visas.
The changes proposed in this bill build on the reforms passed in 2010 as part of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act. This bill would provide protection earlier to those who require it and remove those who do not require protection quickly as well.
There is one modification to the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act (Bill C-4) . Children below the age of 16 will be exempt from detention proposals.
The last part of the bill gives authority to make biometrics mandatory for temporary visa applicants to make it more difficult for forgery and stealing of documents and to ascertain the identity of the applicants.
The reforms are aimed at safe-guarding Canada’s immigration and refugee system. Minister Kenny surmised, “To maintain the support of Canadians for our generous immigration and refugee systems, we must demonstrate that Canada has a fair, well-managed system that does not tolerate queue jumping.”
On February 13, 2012, the Anglican Church and the Government of Canada celebrated an agreement under which nearly 50 families were brought to Canada from Afghanistan, Somalia and Iran. Anglican dioceses hold sponsorship agreements with the government which has enabled them to bring approximately 150 refugees to Canada.
These families were selected and referred to Canada for resettlement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The initiative to resettle the families was part of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Church’s Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund. The patron of the project was Former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.
Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz said that, “The Refugees Project, featuring a theme of ‘In Faith, Join Hands, Inspire Hope,’ was one of the most exciting initiatives associated with the 50th anniversary of the Fund.”
The refugee families belonged to various countries across the world including Afghanistan, Burma (Myanmar), Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan.
The Government of Canada is looking to increase the number of refugees to be resettled by 20% and to steadily increase the number of those resettled by the Government-Assisted Refugee Program to 500 over time. The government is also likely to add 2000 resettlement places to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.