Evidence of meeting #58 for Citizenship and Immigration in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was refugees.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

David Manicom  Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Donald Cochrane  Senior Director, International Region, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Lisa Hébert  Coordinator, Capital Rainbow Refuge
Shahina Perveen  Program Participant, Canadian Citizen, Capital Rainbow Refuge
Eka Nasution  Director, Rainbow Foundation of Hope
Chad Wilkinson  Director, Rainbow Foundation of Hope
Sharalyn Jordan  Board Chair, Rainbow Refugee
Soubhi M.  Member, Rainbow Refugee

4 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

David Manicom

We also don't know the number of every individual vulnerability factor identified, because, for a lot of good reasons, we don't track those.

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj

Thank you.

Ms. Kwan, you have seven minutes, please.

4 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

I thank the officials for their presentation.

I would like to build on the question of the situation in Chechnya right now. As we know, there is a dire situation over there. The Prime Minister refuses to even condemn the situation. There is a recent article that has been put on the public record: “Chechen authorities tell parents: 'Kill your gay sons or we will', survivor claims”.

The presentation states that we have an urgent protection program, and that “Canada makes available up to 100 cases a year through this program, including some individuals fleeing persecution based on gender and sexual orientation.”

Our leader, Thomas Mulcair, asked the Prime Minister today about providing support for some individuals he named. The Prime Minister responded by saying that we don't do one-offs; we do a coordinated approach with the program.

In light of this situation, I wonder if the officials can tell me whether there are any programs in place to assist in this urgent and dire situation right here, right now.

4 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

David Manicom

Yes, we have the urgent protection program. That is the primary means by which we identify cases that have an urgent protection need.

4 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Okay, so on that basis, is that program being utilized for the current situation in Chechnya? Of the gay men who are being persecuted right now, how many have been identified to be resettled through that program?

4 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

David Manicom

We could not use the urgent protection program as it is constituted right now for Chechens who are inside their country, or inside Russia. We are continuing to monitor the situation in Chechnya. As Mr. Cochrane mentioned, we are working closely with individuals. It is very important to protect these individuals in the way we help them and make sure that, if we have an individual coming directly to the attention of our officials, they do not exacerbate or put at further risk the individual still in Chechnya.

4 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Thank you.

So we don't have a program in place right now. There is no program. This program, the urgent protection program, cannot be applied. That's just what I heard you say.

Okay. Let's move on to another issue.

4 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

David Manicom

It depends on what you mean by the word “program”. We are working very hard and very closely to make sure that any individuals who come to our attention and who need our urgent protection will be provided with it.

4 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

You are saying that not one person has been brought to your attention, even though today Thomas Mulcair, our leader, brought some cases to the attention of the Prime Minister.

4 p.m.

Senior Director, International Region, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Donald Cochrane

I can also say that any of these individuals who find themselves outside of Russia could of course avail themselves of the protection of the state in which they are or the protection of the UNHCR, and ask for resettlement.

I can say that any cases that are brought to our attention will be considered on a case-by-case basis with the tools that we have at our disposal.

4 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

The issue around UNHCR—and this has been brought up over and over again—is that people feel very nervous about identifying themselves, for obvious reasons, because someone could out them, even within the UNHCR, somehow, some way. There are lots of concerns with respect to that. With that in mind, if the government is looking at that, in this instance, only through the UNHCR, you can understand the problems existing with your approach.

I'm going to park that there for a minute because I have only seven minutes and it's fast becoming probably two.

Now, I would like to ask the officials this question. With the urgent protection program, which can be made available to up to 100 individuals, how many of those are identified based on gender and sexual orientation?

4:05 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

David Manicom

We don't keep statistics based on sexual or gender orientation.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

So we don't know. All right.

I would urge that we need to try to find that out in order to figure out what we're doing, and, by the way, some 73 countries criminalize same-sex relationships or gender diversity, some with the death penalty, so I would say that this is fairly urgent and that we need to do a little more work on this.

We also don't have a program to deal with internally displaced individuals. We used to have such a program, and now we don't, and that is another issue.

I want to return to Rainbow Refugee and the great work it is doing. Right now, we acknowledge its work, and I think it has resettled close to 75 people; some of those are in process at the moment but it is close to 75. If you average that out over three years, that's a record of 25 per year, or a little bit better, I would say. Let's just even assume that if all 100 of these under the urgent protection program are from the LGBTQ community, I would say that their record is pretty good.

Rainbow Refugee and other organizations are doing great work, and there is a great need out there to do this work and to magnify the work that is done. What work, if any, is the government embarking on in this process to move beyond a one-off pilot program on a year-by-year basis? Is anything being done?

Just give a short answer on that, yes or no.

4:05 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

David Manicom

Yes. We have a number of integration-related programming initiatives in Canada to continue to build the capacity inside Canada to ensure the successful integration, welcoming integration, of LGBTI persons. This has been going on for a long time.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

I'm sorry, but when you say “integration capacity”, I'm talking about active resettlement, helping people to bring people here as opposed to other programs. Are there any other funding streams or programs that exist that bring here for resettlement people from the LGBTQ community who have faced persecution?

4:05 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

David Manicom

No. LGBTI persons come into Canada with the active encouragement of Canada through the private sponsorship programs and through our government-assisted refugee programs. I don't want there to be any confusion that—while we don't ask every single refugee their sexual orientation and their gender identity and compile statistics and databases about those—we are not continuing to do all we can to protect these individuals. We are very cognizant of the risks they face.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj

You have 20 seconds.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

So the only other initiative you have identified is the privately sponsored one, which is not specifically targeted for the LGBTQ community. There is nothing within government in terms of additional programming that would target these highly persecuted and vulnerable individuals who, without support, may well face death.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj

Thank you, Ms. Kwan.

Ms. Dzerowicz, go ahead for seven minutes, please.

May 3rd, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Thanks to the presenters.

I have a lot of questions for you, so I'll try to get through them.

I want to get to a little bit of the data we might have. You indicated on page 4 that the UNHCR refers cases based on seven categories. Might we be able to get the data with regard to what percentage of the cases that are referred to us are within the legal and physical protection needs category? That's one.

What countries or regions are they actually from? Is that data we'd be able to get? I don't need to get it now, but would that be something we'd be able to get?

4:05 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

David Manicom

I'm sorry—the first question is with regard to the referral categories from UNHCR?

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Yes. There are seven categories. Can we actually get what percentage of referred cases for resettlement to Canada actually come from the legal and physical protection needs category?

4:05 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

David Manicom

That's a very broad category. We could certainly inquire as to whether between our operational data and UNHCR data we could extract that information.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Also, which countries and regions do they come from? Is it possible to get that as well?

4:05 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

David Manicom

If we can extract the first, I think we would be able to extract the second.