The number of people who requested refugee status in Canada more than tripled from 2015 to 2017, according to figures analysed by the government. The number rose from 16,058 to 50,389. But the pace of growth slowed with 55,023 asylum claimants arriving in 2018.
This compares with previous peaks of about 37,000 in 2008, and about 44,000 in 2001.
The asylum claimants tend to be younger than Canada’s population. Over 26 per cent arriving in 2017 were 14 years old and under. In the general population of Canada only 16 per cent are in that age group. The majority (55 per cent) of asylum claimants are male, especially among those between 15 and 54 years old.
Refugee issue likely debated in election campaign
The jump in asylum claims appears to have hardened some attitudes towards refugees in Canada. The opposition Conservative Party will likely play on that in the campaign for a federal election to be held in October 2019. And the governing Liberals have tightened some aspects of asylum law.
People who seek asylum in Canada can stay and work while their cases are being considered. There is a backlog in processing claims and by the end of 2018 the expected amount of time to wait for a decision was two years. Once a claim is approved, a person can apply to become permanent residents with the status of protected persons in Canada.
Canada is a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention which declares that a refugee should not be sent back to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom.