Expect Changes to the Balanced Refugee Reform Act This Month?

Original bill that trampled refugee rights may return

The Balanced Refugee Reform Act (or Bill C-11) is a piece of legislation that received royal assent in mid-2010, and is scheduled to take effect in late June of this year.

The original bill only received royal assent after changes were made to it, because opposition critics and refugee advocates had problems with it – because it seriously damaged the rights of refugees.

According to this article from Embassy Magazine, we can expect the conservative government to make additional changes to the bill just before it passes. According to the article, it would be a surprise if the bill was brought up again without all of the old, damaging and unfair provisions in it that had been removed.

Now, the Canada Border Services Agency has confirmed that the government is “thinking” of changing the law, and a former Immigration and Refugee Board official quoted in the article said that these changes are expected this month.

Changes to the Balanced Refugee Reform Act

The old version of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act was considered dangerous and unfair to refugees in Canada. Here’s why:

– refugees from certain countries (called “safe countries of origin”) would not have access to the same appeals process everyone else had access to.

– A new interview process would occur, but there was no specific timeline. Some critics thought this meant the interview would be immediate and refugees wouldn’t be able to prepare for it.

– If a refugee’s claim is denied, is abandoned or is withdrawn, the refugee could not file for permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds for a year.

The bill was changed after plenty of deserved criticism. Its final version ensures that all refugees have the same appeal process (but some from certain countries may experience tighter timelines), refugees will have a minimum of 15 days before their interview, and there will be no year-long ban of applying on humanitarian and compassionate grounds – resulting in a much fairer piece of legislation.

Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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