Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
This is a letter dated May 17, 2019, addressed to you, Mr. Chair. It reads as follows:
Finance Committee Chair Easter,
I write to you today as the NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, in response to your invitation for the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) to study and make recommendations for Part 4 Division 15 of Bill C-97, An Act to Implement Certain Provisions of the Budget, and to provide recommendations through you the Finance Committee to consider doing its clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill.
Please accept this as the NDP submission to your request.
As I'm sure you're aware, Bill C-97 is 392 page omnibus budget Bill. Contained in that Bill is Part 4 Division 15, which sets out the creation....
Sorry, Mr. Chair; this is the same letter that was just read out. I will go to my own system and look for the right letter.
We now have the right letter, but it was good to have the same letter put on the record one-and-a-half times.
On division 16, this is a letter dated May 17, 2019. Again, the letter is addressed to you, Mr. Chair.
Finance Committee Chair Easter,
I write to you today as the NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, in response to your invitation for the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) to study and make recommendations for Part 4 Division 16 of Bill C-97, An Act to Implement Certain Provisions of the Budget.
Please accept this as the NDP dissenting submission to your request.
Bill C-97 is a 392 page omnibus budget Bill. Contained in that Bill is Part 4 Division 16, which proposes significant changes to Canada's refugee determination system. It appears that these changes are meant to block and deter access to Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) from certain groups of asylum seekers.
The provisions contained within Division 16 appear to be nothing more than an attempt to look tough on borders after the government has failed to lead on the asylum seeker file since 2017. This failure created a vacuum that was filled by misinformation campaigns and the vilification of asylum seekers which has since been further pushed by the Conservative party.
As you are aware, Part 4 Division 16 was not even included in your original invitation to CIMM committee as a section of Bill C-97 to study. While I was successful in my fight to have these changes at least brought to CIMM, I am deeply disturbed by the unacceptably short time that we have had to study these provisions.
Despite this unacceptable approach to the legislation, we still heard loud and clear from the experts that appeared at CIMM, and it is my understanding that you have heard the same message at FINA. Groups such as Amnesty International, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL), and the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) spoke clearly that these changes cannot be supported and cannot be rammed through in Bill C-97.
These changes must be withdrawn from Bill C-97.
When Government members of CIMM asked experts appearing at our committee on how to make the proposed changes to the refugee determination process better or to fix the concerns they may have regarding the bill, they were told simply that there is no fix. They were clear to say that lives would be put at risk and that the suggestion of an “enhanced PRRA process” is not only an inefficient duplication of processes, they also noted that it is inferior to what already exists with the IRB. The experts were loud and clear that cannot be permitted as lives are at stake.
CIMM also received over 2,200 letters from individuals speaking out against these proposed changes, calling for them to be withdrawn. In addition, the Prime Minister has been sent an open letter from 46 women's organizations from across Canada denouncing these changes and their inclusion in Bill C-97. This is because of the disproportionate impact on women and girls. Witnesses appearing before CIMM echoed this concern and noted that the Government had clearly failed to do a gender-based analysis plus of these provisions.
It is with all this in mind that on behalf of the New Democratic Party my recommendation to the Finance Committee is to have Part 4 Division 16 withdrawn from Bill C-97 or have all these provisions struck from Bill C-97.
The refugee determination system should not be used for partisan political gains ahead of an election. There is no question that any changes need be, in the minimum, be thoroughly studied. Under the current conditions, that is simply not possible.
It is signed by myself.