An overview of changes
The federal government has been making many changes to immigration and refugee polices in the past few months.
In July 2012, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced major changes to the Interim Federal Health Program. These changes included taking away supplemental health benefits such as vision and dental care, as well as prescription coverage for many of Canada’s refugees. The changes have left many refugees with minimum health coverage.
Impacts of these changes has been closely monitored by the Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care who have seen large numbers of refugees denied necessary surgeries, immunization, medications and treatments. Only if public health is in jeopardy will refugees receive the necessary care.
Despite public outcry, the Conservative government has defended these cuts, stating that the $84 million program will bring equity to the system, and deter unfound refugee claims. The government also stated that the cuts will save taxpayers $100 million over five years.
On June 18, Doctors for Refugee Care partnered with the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, to hold a national Day of Action. The Day of Action led to the two organisations, along with three patients to take a legal action against the government’s changes on Feb. 28. An application was filed to the federal court asking for judicial review of Kenney’s cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program.
Along with changes to refugee health care, a new immigration system will take affect May 4. This new ‘points’ system involves a larger emphasis on youth, work experience, and English or French language skills for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Immigration applications will also be capped, at around 240,00 and 265,000.
While high immigration rates from the Philippines, India, China, France and Iran, families may find it difficult to bring their loved ones to Canada. The changes will also eliminate the old waiting for skilled immigrants, affecting any individuals who have applied previous to Feb. 2008.
In November, Kenney said he hoped the changes will help diminish the backlog of immigrants in the system, making the process move a lot quicker. Prior to the changes, the backlog would not be unclogged until 2017. The new system will end up terminating 98,000 skilled immigrant applications.
In India, a group called Back Loggers Pre-2008 Association was formed last year. The group is made up of people whose immigration applications would be eliminated from the new system. Represented under the Campbell Choen Law Firm, the Back Loggers have taken their case to court, demanding that Canada listen. The case is still waiting to be resolved.
On to of the changes, public confusion, and frustration, Canada’s image was tarnished further when Federal Minister of Public Safety, Vic Towes, endorsed the filming of a Cops-like reality television show on immigration raids.
The series will show Canadian border agents making border immigration raids on illegal immigrants in Canada. Documents were leaked days after a raid was filmed in Vancouver, showing Towes’ approval for the show.
The show, “Border Security” will be aired on the National Geographic Channel, owned by Shaw Media. An online petition has been created to cancel the show.
Photo by Taouba Khelifa