OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb 22, 2013) - Canada''s new asylum system is already a success after just over two months in operation, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.
Overall, the number of asylum claims received each week is down by 70 percent compared to similar timeframes over the past six years.
If this trend continues, provinces and territories are expected to save an additional $420 million over five years in social assistance, education costs and health-care costs, pushing the total savings from asylum system reform to over $2 billion.
"Canada is a fair and generous country, but the message has been received loud and clear that we will not tolerate continued abuse of Canada''s asylum system," said Minister Kenney. "The recent reforms are a clear success as we have already seen a dramatic drop in claims from countries that historically have had a high number of unfounded claims."
For example, asylum claims from Hungary, Canada''s top source country for claimants in 2011 and 2012, have dropped 98 percent compared to the average between 2009 and 2012.
The new system, which came into force on December 15, 2012, continues to ensure that all eligible claimants, regardless of where they come from, are given a full fact-based hearing on the merits of their individual case before the independent Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). All claimants also continue to be able to seek a review of a negative decision from the Federal Court.
The new system also introduced, for the first time, an intermediate appeal to the newly created Refugee Appeal Division for claimants from countries that historically have produced significant numbers of refugees. In order to discourage unfounded claims, however, failed claimants from designated countries do not have access to the newly-created Refugee Appeal Division, and are removed much more quickly.
As a result, their ability to draw on taxpayer-funded health and social services are significantly reduced.
Following the announcement on December 14, 2012, that 27 countries had become designated countries of origin (DCO), claims from these countries alone decreased by nearly 80 percent when compared to the same period over the past six years.
There are currently 35 designated countries of origin. A designated country of origin is a country that offers state protection, respects human rights, has effective civil society organizations, and does not normally produce refugees. Asylum claimants from a DCO will have their claim processed in 30-45 days as opposed to 60 days for all other claimants. In comparison, under the old system, it took 18-19 months before an asylum claimant had a hearing.
Another factor that may have contributed to the large decline in asylum claims from designated countries of origin is the improvements made in June 2012 to the Interim Federal Health program. In order to prevent abuse of Canadian health-care services, failed asylum claimants no longer receive taxpayer-funded health care unless it is necessary to protect public health and safety.
"The massive decline in claims coming from countries not normally known to produce refugees means that genuine refugees in need will received Canada''s protection more quickly," said Minister Kenney. "At the same time, unfounded claimants are being removed from the country faster, resulting in significant savings to Canadian taxpayers."
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Photos of Minister Kenney available at: www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/photos/high-res/index.asp.
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Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada''s economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.