Pilot projects, better communications with program managers and improved guidelines

  • June 27, 2023

The Immigration Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association, in a letter to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, offered comments on the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Pilot programs.

These five-year programs were implemented in 2019 to address issues present with previous caregiver programs. The CBA Section was especially pleased to see the pilot programs do away with the Labour Market Impact Assessment requirement while implementing sector-specific open work permits and accompanying permits for spouses and dependent children, as well as setting out a clear path to permanent residency. The recent reduction in work experience requirements for caregivers to qualify for permanent residence, from 24 to 12 months, is also something to be applauded.

However, the Section is concerned that the small number of applicants allowed in the intake group coupled with lengthy processing times are to blame for the pilot programs not delivering the results Canadians expect. Nearly three years processing time for home support worker or a nanny for an infant is simply not acceptable. “With the current processing times, the infants requiring care will be school-aged when the caregiver is approved to come to Canada,” the letter states. “The purpose of the program is defeated if care is not available when needed.” The Section says six months should be the standard to process those applications.

Improving communications

In another letter to IRCC the Immigration Law Section reports that some program managers are not responding to emails from authorized representatives, citing the need to avoid the appearance of preferential treatment when the typical web-form inquiry is not sufficient to address a particular problem or when a matter is urgent.

“The CBA Section respectfully submits that communicating with a program manager does not result in a shortcut, and the client service delivery instructions allow for communications with program managers and has been a common practice for several years.”

The Section recommends that IRCC resume the practice or that it create a generic email address for a manager at each visa office.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulation amendments for unenforceable removal orders

The Immigration Law Section offered comments on proposed regulatory amendments that would see the automatic cancellation of work permits, study permits and temporary resident permits documents when an unenforceable removal order is issued.

This can affect refugee claimants in significant ways. “For example, many Iranian international students are considering making refugee claims due to the increase in persecution by the government in their home country,” the letter explains. “If they make a refugee claim, they will lose their study permit and their ability to study and work off-campus. They will also lose the ability to qualify for work experience points for Express Entry after graduation.” This is not compatible with the government’s objective of helping vulnerable people seek protection in Canada.

The proposed amendments would also, in the view of the CBA Section, result in increased costs due to processing while leaving “productive members of our workforce without the legal ability to work or study for prolonged periods of time.”

The Section is also worried the proposed amendments, by taking away many people’s ability to support themselves and their families, could run counter to sections 7, 15 and 24(2) of the Charter.

For those reasons, the Section recommends withdrawing the proposed regulatory amendments.

Review of Chairperson’s Guidelines 3 (Phase 2)

Finally, the Immigration Law Section wrote to offer additional comments on the review of the guidelines that apply to child refugee claimants.

While pleased to see many of its earlier recommendations accepted, the Section offers a few precisions on the difference between separated and unaccompanied minors, the notion of best interest of the child, guidance in cases where a minor becomes an adult while their case is being processed, the importance of taking a child-sensitive approach whenever a minor is testifying, the need to enhance the evidentiary section to include guidance on gathering and assessing evidence, guidance on determining credibility when assessing evidence and cases where they may be allegations of child abduction.