Idil Atak, Associate Professor, Department of Criminology, Ryerson University
Over the past decade, Canada’s refugee protection system has been the subject of important changes. The previous Conservative Government (2002-2015) made regulatory changes and adopted legislations amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) (S.C. 2001, c. 27). The Balanced Refugee Reform Act (Bill C-11, 2010) and the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act (Bill C-31, 2012) have introduced a number of measures in Canada’s refugee status determination system which include: the “designated country of origin” criteria, “designated irregular arrivals”, new procedural framework, such as expedited refugee claim hearings and restrictions to legal recourses. Based on the results of a research project that involved interviews with over 60 participants in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, this presentation explores some of the practical and human rights implications associated with these measures. It is argued that the new measures have resulted in violations of asylum seekers’ human rights. They have had a detrimental impact on third parties involved in the refugee protection system, such as legal counsels and service providers. In addition, these measures are likely to increase irregular migration in Canada. The presentation highlights the urgent need for policy changes.