Immigration minister promotes refugee plan
TORONTO, 31 March 2010 (Toronto Sun)—Immigration minister Jason Kenney is on the road pushing for a new refugee selection process that he says will lead to speedy decisions and protect those in need.
“Canada’s asylum system is broken,” Kenney said Wednesday. “The proposed changes would result in faster protection for those who need our help and quicker removals of those who do not.”
Kenney and his entourage were given a police escort as they visited groups in the GTA to explain the $540 million reform package he tabled before Parliament on Tuesday. It has to be passed by Parliament to become law.
Kenney said under the proposed system, asylum seekers will have eight days to obtain counsel and file claims, which will be heard in 60 days by civil servants of a new appeal division of the Immigration and Refugee Board.
Unsuccessful claimants will have limited appeals and be deported in a year, he told a news conference at an Etobicoke immigration office.
“The days when asylum seekers could file appeal after appeal is over,” he said. “People who told a false story to come to Canada should not get to stay.”
Kenney said many claimants use the refugee process “to try to get through the back door into Canada.”
He said the new measures will allow his officials to designate a list of safe countries from which nationals are not eligible to claim refugee status.
It is estimated that each failed claim cost taxpayers $50,000, which would be reduced to $29,000 if the proposal becomes law, the department said.
“We could reduce the costs faced by provincial governments by shortening the time failed claimants remain in Canada,” he said.
Kenney said the improvements would allow his department to help more refugees resettle in Canada and promised extra funding for a program that helps newcomers establish themselves.
The proposal has angered Toronto immigration advocates who in a rally on Wednesday called it a “culmination of a xenophobic smear campaign against refugees.” Canada accepts
more than 30,000 refugees yearly.