Citizenship and Immigration (May 1, 2012)
MPs heard from individuals including representatives of the legal community and the government of New Zealand as they continued their review of Bill C-31, the government’s refugee reform legislation.
Barrister and solicitor Andrew Wlodyka made recommendations for improving the bill related to the country of origin designation process and overall transparency. Bill Frelick from Human Rights Watch raised concerns about the bill’s ability to protect children. His colleague, Jennifer Egsgard, also raised concerns about mandatory detention periods and restrictions on permanent resident status. All witnesses appeared via videoconference.
Dr. Meb Rashid from the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto discussed the mental health impact of the bill on refugees including mandatory detention periods and access to healthcare. Lawyer David Matas raised concerns related to the designation of foreign nationals and urged committee members not to support the bill in its current form.
Senior representatives from New Zealand’s Department of Labour appeared via videoconference from Wellington, for the third panel. Christine Hyndman, Stephen Dunstan, and Fraser Richards discussed similarities and differences between the Bill C-31 and refugee legislation currently being considered by their country.
UPDATE: Bill C-31 received royal assent on June 28.