In June 2012, the federal government passed Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, ushering in sweeping changes to Canada’s refugee system.
Under the new system, refugee claimants in Canada will face accelerated timelines, limited recourse for negative decisions, and restrictive access to safety nets including Humanitarian and Compassionate Consideration and Pre-Removal Risk Assessment. The new law also gives broad powers to the Minister of Public Safety to designate certain arrivals as ‘Designated Foreign Nationals’ – a label that carries mandatory detention, accelerated timelines, restricted access to the refugee system, and draconian conditions on refugees, including a five-year waiting period between a successful claim and an application for permanent residency. Finally, the new system includes a Designated Countries of Origin list – a list of countries that are assumed to be ‘safe’ for refugees. Refugee claimants from these countries will face accelerated timelines for their refugee hearings and fast removal without the chance to have a negative decision reviewed.