The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau Prime Minister of Canada

Office of the Prime Minister 80 Wellington  Street Ottawa, ON KlA 0A2

Via email:

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

RE:      Ministerial mandate letters

On behalf of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL), I wish to congratulate your government on its re-election. Two-thirds of Canadians voted for progressive parties who value Canada’s role in welcoming refugees and caring for vulnerable populations. In doing so, they rejected the politics and rhetoric of fear about irregular, but legal, migration.

As your government sets its priorities for the upcoming session of Parliament, we encourage you to continue to work towards a more efficient immigration and refugee system that maintains fairness at its core. We are therefore making the following recommendations, which we hope will be included in the mandate letters issued to the new Ministers of the relevant departments. We believe our proposals accord with your government’s objectives.

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

  • Coordinate with the Minister of Justice and provincial and territorial governments to reach a sustainable solution for legal aid funding for immigration and refugee matters. We appreciate the federal government’s August 2019 injection of funds for legal aid in Ontario, B.C. and Manitoba. We believe that a durable legal aid plan is the only way to ensure that the government’s enhanced funding of the refugee determination system outlined in the 2019 Budget can have a lasting impact. As you are aware, these funds will mitigate downstream costs and result in a positive long-term return on investment.
  • Institute a one-year review of the new ineligibility and pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) provisions created in the 2019 Budget Implementation Act to assess whether the new PRRA system is proceeding efficiently and fairly. We further recommend that the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) be amended to add measures to promote fairness and efficiency in this process.
  • Amend the IRPA to remove the defunct and rarely used provisions instituted by the previous Conservative government including Designated Countries of Origin (DCO) and Designated Foreign Nationals (DFN). While we appreciate that all DCO countries have now been de-listed, we encourage the government to implement its May 17, 2019 commitment to repeal the policy through legislative change.
  • Hold consultations with stakeholders and provincial and territorial governments with a view to fully repeal the medical inadmissibility provisions in the IRPA as recommended by the Citizenship and Immigration Standing Committee.
  • Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) to repeal R117(9)(d) and R125(1)(d). The cost of family separation greatly outweighs the benefits. Previously undeclared persons would still be subject  to  certain admissibility requirements in the IRPA and so there is minimal prejudice  to  the other objectives of the IRPA in permitting them to be sponsored. In the alternative, expand the recent public policy pilot as the current narrow exceptions fail to assist a great deal of others also affected.
  • Adhere to the family reunification objective of the Act and amend the IRPR to allow minors who have been accepted as Convention refugees or protected persons to include their parents in their applications for permanent residence.
  • Create a simple pathway to citizenship for children currently or previously in child protection care.

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

  • Re-introduce a bill to establish an independent oversight body for the Canada Border Services Agency early in the new Parliament to ensure that it becomes law.
  • Modernize Canada’s security and inadmissibility provisions to align  them  with  recent Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence.
  • Develop a public policy regarding the referral for long-term  permanent  residents with deep roots in Canada, including those who immigrated as  children,  as previously existed.
  • Continue to treat detention as an exceptional measure and develop community­ based release options.
  • Maintain humane and efficient processing of refugee claims for those who enter Canada between ports of entry.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General

  • As noted above, coordinate with the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and provincial and territorial governments to reach  a sustainable  legal aid model for immigration and refugee matters.

We look forward to continuing to work with your government on these issues and more, and we would like an opportunity to discuss these recommendations at your earliest convenience.

Yours Truly,

Maureen Silcoff


Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers/Association canadienne des avocats et avocates  en droit des refugies