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Monday, November 23, 2015

Canada, Syrian and other refugees

While a much larger country to the south struggles with every aspect of immigration policy, in Canada, the foundations that have been laid of the years are far clearer. We are a country that embraces immigration (though the implementation may be slower than many would wish, and the Harper years were actually an anti-immigration period for the country in terms of policy).

There is a crisis in Syria and Europe and the world is being asked to play a role in helping those desperately in need of a new home.

The Government of Canada has made the following commitments related to refugees from Syria and all refugees in general:

  • expand Canada’s intake of refugees from Syria by 25,000 through immediate government sponsorship, and also work with private sponsors to accept even more;
  • fully restore the Interim Federal Health Program that provides limited and temporary health benefits to refugees and refugee claimants;
  • invest at least an additional $100 million this fiscal year to increase – without reducing standards – refugee processing as well as sponsorship and settlement services capacity in Canada; and,
  • provide an immediate, new $100 million contribution to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to support the critical relief activities in Syria and the surrounding area.
I am looking forward to seeing how well they implement these lofty goals. I am pleased to say we have ended the Harper era of anti-immigration policy.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Canada Visa - CIC Issues Instructions to Allow for Religious Accommodation During Canadian Citizenship Oath

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has updated instructions related to the taking of the Oath of Citizenship as a result of a recent decision by the Federal Court of Appeal.
The published instructions state:
Following the recent decision of the Federal Court of Appeal in Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada v. Ishaq, operational instructions  related to the delivery of the Oath of Citizenship have been updated.
The operational policy requires applicants to remove their face covering when taking the Oath, but applicants who are unwilling to do so for  religious reasons must now be accommodated and allowed to recite the Oath of Citizenship privately, in front of a female judge or official who is  authorized to administer the Oath, before joining the public ceremony.
In mid-September, the Federal Court of Appeal had dismissed a government appeal over a ban on face coverings at citizenship ceremonies in what amounted to a major policy rebuke of the previous Conservative government, led by now former-Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The issue of face coverings while taking the Oath of Citizenship became a major point of contention during the recent Canadian federal election campaign, with the major opposition parties opposing the previous government’s stance on the issue.