Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'll just preface this by saying that I fully support turning the RRAP into a permanent ongoing program with ongoing funding.
To the agencies that have been working here to do this, I want to express my thanks for your work. For those of you who came here to share your stories, I want to thank you for your courage, as well as Chad for making us uncomfortable because we should be uncomfortable.
The reality is that nobody should be persecuted or tortured for who they love or for living their own personal truth. Canada has to make that statement permanent, not just through statements and nice words, but through programs such as this.
I would like to use the remainder of my time, because we don't have a lot of meetings scheduled for this particular study, to talk about how a permanent ongoing program could be structured in terms of values, metrics, and an operating framework.
Some of the suggestions that I've heard in both your briefs and your testimony today include ensuring that the funding and the program are set up to be cognizant of the unique integration and support needs of the LGBTQ community when they come here as refugees; ensuring that processing times are contextualized within the fact that the LGBTQ community are some of the most persecuted people in the world, in many parts of the world; and ensuring that if we have one initiative or another, we're not seeing those numbers drop because they're all of a sudden not prioritized.
I've heard that we need to have some emphasis around demystifying or taking the confusion out of the process. For people who are in need, the last thing they want to be doing is trying to figure out how to access the program—so some sort of initiative around, again, demystifying the process or providing simpler information.
This program should also have the ability to react to situations such as that in Chechnya. The point has been made over and over again that there are 76 countries around the world, that there are so many places where the community is persecuted, and that we can't react to everything. I would argue that this program, if it's ongoing, should be able to react in situations like this. It should be nimble, and it shouldn't take six months of committee study to react to it.
I would also say that I've heard about the issue of questioning, the questioning that happens through the UNHCR process or through the Canadian process. I've heard that members of the community have been asked really inappropriate questions, such as “Are you a top, or are you a bottom?” I think there should be some sort of sensitivity and a coordinated effort to make that happen.
What I also heard was that the funding provided should really harness and build capacity, and continue to build capacity within the personal generosity of Canadians to do this. That should be a value.
I would also argue that there are some tangential things we need to look at, as well, to.... I'll close by saying that we should probably have some discussion—and I would look to you—on metrics. How do we measure this? You heard the discussion within the department. This is a very difficult issue within the government-assisted refugee stream. How do we address that?
To the point that was made about this being a global issue, it can't just be about resettlement. The country also has to pair an ongoing program with continued outspokenness against regimes that entrench within governments the persecution of the LGBTQ community. It can't just be about resettlement. There also has be a diplomatic position in our messaging against countries that do this.
That's how I've distilled the summary. I have three minutes left in my time. I'd just love to hear your feedback on this. Have we got it right? Do you support that? Is there anything that I've missed?