Government Reforms Canada's Asylum System

Published: April 1st 2010
in News >> Local

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney welcomes new Canadians.

Canadians can be proud of our long-standing compassion and commitment to help those who are persecuted and displaced in conflict zones around the world. Among industrialized countries, we are second only to the United States in the number of refugees we welcome to this country to start a new life.


Each year, we welcome 10,000-12,000 refugees to Canada from abroad, many of them living in desperate conditions in refugee camps or urban slums–women, men and children forced to flee their homes to escape war, famine and natural disasters. That represents 10 percent of all refugees resettled around the globe.


Then there are those who make the long trek to Canada and seek asylum once they arrive. Many of their stories are harrowing and tragic. They tell of loss and fear and hope for a new life here in Canada.


But there is another part to this story. And unfortunately it is a story of abuse, of people taking advantage of our generosity and goodwill to try to find a back door into Canada rather than wait their turn in the immigration queue.


Prior to our imposition of visas on citizens of Mexico and the Czech Republic last year, Canada had seen a 60 percent increase in the number of asylum claims over two years. Canada receives more asylum claims per capita than any comparable democracy (38,000 asylum claims in 2008), 58 percent of which are unfounded. These numbers suggest that for many, Canada has become a destination of choice for false claimants.


The numbers are alarming. Approximately 60,000 people are waiting for decisions on their claims for asylum. With all the available recourses and appeals, it generally takes 4.5 years from the start of an asylum claim until a failed claimant is removed from Canada. In some extreme cases, it has taken 10 years or more.


Too much time and too many resources are being spent on reviewing claims by people who are not refugees and who abuse the system to stay in Canada for years, often at taxpayers’ expense.


That is why I have introduced legislation which would improve Canada’s asylum system, deliver quicker decisions on claims, provide faster protection to those who need our help, and more quickly remove those who do not.


These changes, if passed, would also allow us to do more to help victims of violence and persecution as we also plan to increase by 2,500 the number of refugees resettled to Canada, while giving them more support to start their lives over again.


Only by fixing our broken in-Canada system can we effectively increase the generosity of our overseas system. This is why improvements to the overseas and in-Canada asylum programs are being pursued together, with changes to be contingent on our legislation being passed.


I encourage you to visit my department’s website at  to learn more about the bold steps we are taking.


Canada will always be open to genuine refugees. Our model for refugee protection continues to be anchored in the /Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms/ and international agreements. These new measures respect the principles of fairness and effectiveness for the human rights of all.


We are honouring the values and traditions that Canadians hold dear, and we will continue to do so by ensuring that our asylum system is fair and balanced for those who truly need our protection.


Jason Kenney is Canada's Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

Related articles: (Jason Kenney, immigration, asylum)
Share with friends Print this page Read later Recommend 0 times