A group of refugee claimants wait to cross at a control point which is not an official entry into Canada. (Christinne Muschi/REUTERS)

(interview) Criticism over government handling of Canada’s refugee claims

Canada’s Auditor-General, Sylvain Ricard, released a report yesterday that was critical of several aspects of government, among them the handling of asylum seekers.

With a huge increase in asylum seekers entering into Canada from the U.S. at “irregular” crossing points, the system to deal with them is facing huge backlogs.

Guidy Mamann (JD) is an immigration policy analyst and senior partner  at  Mamann Sandaluk & Kingwell LLP immigration law firm in Toronto.


The Trudeau government came to power in 2015 at which point there was already a backlog in refugee claims, In 2016, Canada had been dealing with up to almost 24,000 refugee claims per year.

Guidy Mamann (JD) immigration policy analyst and lawyer at Mamann, Sandaluk & Kingwell LLB

Guidy Mamann (JD) immigration policy analyst and lawyer at Mamann, Sandaluk & Kingwell LLB

In 2017 U.S President Donald Trump instituted a four month hold on allowing refugees into the U.S, and barred travellers from several Muslim majority countries. He also began talking about eliminating temporary residency programmes in the U.S and returning undocumented people to their country of origin.  In reaction, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau tweeted a note saying Canada welcomes people fleeing various security and persecution issues.

This started a steady and increasing flow of refugee claims in Canada, with a great many temporary U.S residents walking into Canada at certain undefended points and then claiming refugee status.

Prime Minister Trudeau’s tweet is widely seen as starting an influx of refugee claims into Canada. (Twitter)

This has completely overwhelmed the asylum claims process, and has become a hugely expensive cost to taxpayers paying for social, health, and other services for the influx

Guidy Mamann says that since the Trudeau tweet the previously existing backlog of claims such that it may take anywhere from two to six years for a claim to be judged.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen responds to the Auditor General report that says that backlogs and wait times are even worse now than when reforms were brought in to speed up processing in 2012. Though the Liberals have been in power since 2015, and the Trudeau tweet inspired an ongoing influx of claims, he blames the previous Conservative government for the problems. (CBC)

The Auditor General also mention concerns over security issues and  the ability to properly verify claimants.

The situation of claimants simply walking into Canada at locations away from official entry points, and the costs involved, has been a hot political issue since the Trudeau tweets initiated the influx, and is very likely to come up in the general election in October

Although the government says it is investing in resources to improve the system, Guidy Mamann says from his analysis it doesn’t appear to be much of an improvement. He predicts the influx at the Canada-U.S border may increase and worsen the wait times for claimants to have their case heard.

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Categories: Economy, Immigration & Refugees, International, Politics, Society
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