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Maintaining the Safety of Canadian Society

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OTTAWA, January 6, 1999 — The new directions for immigration and refugee protection legislation reaffirm Canada’s commitment to protecting the health and safety of Canadians.

“The vast majority of immigrants to Canada are law-abiding individuals who contribute a great deal to the social and economic fabric of this country,” Minister Robillard emphasized. “The government remains committed to an open immigration system and to the protection of refugees. At the same time, we wish to ensure a sound immigration and refugee system that is not open to abuse,” she added.

Building on the current Immigration Act, the government proposes to enhance measures to intercept improperly documented people before they arrive in Canada. The integrity of our system would be improved by more clearly defining who is inadmissible to Canada, creating new inadmissible classes, increasing passenger disembarkation checks, and enhancing the capacity to remove people who do not have a right to establish themselves in Canada. Asylum seekers who refuse to cooperate in establishing their identity could be detained for security reasons.

Canada’s removals system would be made more effective through the elimination of a layer of appeal for serious criminals, as well as people who obtained permanent resident status by misrepresentation. The capacity to prosecute offenders would be augmented through additional sanctions against people who contravene the Act. The Department could, in partnership with other countries, exchange information on security and criminality issues. The required medical screening procedures would also be reviewed to determine whether they still meet the objective of protecting public health. In addition, consultations with federal and provincial health officials are now under way to improve the medical surveillance process.

Canada has committed to developing a global strategy to address the problem of illegal migration which affects a number of countries.