It has become apparent to our government that Canada’s asylum system is strained by an increasing number of unfounded claims every year. This undermines our ability to help those who truly need our protection.
Prior to our imposition of visas on citizens of Mexico and the Czech Republic last year, Canada had seen a 60 per cent increase in the number of asylum claims over two years. Canada receives more asylum claims per capita than any comparable democracy (38,000 asylum claims in 2008) and there are approximately 60,000 claims in the backlog waiting for a hearing. Asylum claims are made by foreign nationals in Canada on visitor, student, work or other permits who claim to be fleeing persecution.
While many people in the backlog are genuinely in need of Canada’s protection, a large number of these claimants are not. By the time these claimants have exhausted all legal avenues and finally leave Canada, most will have been here for four and a half years or more.
Too much time and too many resources are spent on claims from people who are not in need of protection and who stay in Canada for years. We need to fix the system so that claims by individuals in need of protection in Canada are accepted quickly, and failed asylum claimants are removed quickly.
That is why our Conservative government has introduced legislation which would strengthen Canada’s asylum system by refocusing our resources on those who truly need protection, while continuing to exceed our international commitments and obligations under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The proposed measures include changes at the Immigration and Refugee Board which would see public servants conduct hearings on claims within 60 days. In addition, the new system would include an appeal process for most claimants carried out by Governor in Council appointees.
These changes are also needed now to support our efforts to control government spending. Those with unfounded claims can wait for years for final decisions on their applications, costing taxpayers’ dollars to pay for health care and, in some cases, social assistance.
It is clear that funneling more resources into the current system is not the solution.
The measures our government proposes would bring more timely protection to those who need it while improving our ability to remove those who seek to take advantage of our generosity.
Through this legislation, we are honouring the values that Canadians hold dear by ensuring that our asylum system is as fair as possible to those who truly need our protection.