ARCHIVED – Backgrounders - Bill C-11: The Balanced Refugee Reform Act

Bill C-11, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act received Royal Assent at approximately 5 pm on June 29, 2010.

This new legislation would support the underlying principles of Canada’s asylum system: ensuring fairness, protecting genuine refugees and upholding Canada’s humanitarian tradition. In total, $540.7 million would be set aside to implement the changes to the asylum system and to resettle more refugees from overseas.

The new asylum system would come into effect in the next 12 to 18 months, following royal assent. In the meantime, the Immigration and Refugee Board would begin preparations to staff new positions including the hiring of public servants for the new information-gathering process and the Refugee Protection Division and more than 80 Governor in Council appointees for the new Refugee Appeal Division.

The Canada Border Services Agency would also be hiring more officers to expedite removals and to put in place a new Assisted Voluntary Returns program. Additional resources at CIC would also strengthen monitoring capacity and assist in the designation of countries.

On the resettlement side, CIC would be ramping up over the next two to three years to resettle up to 2,500 more refugees a year. It would determine where these refugees will come from as part of the annual planning process that occurs each year in consultation with its partners, such as the UNHCR and private sponsors. In addition, the Resettlement Assistance Program would be increased by $9 million a year to help provide government-assisted refugees with immediate and essential services and income support to assist them in establishing themselves in Canada.

Canada has a long tradition of helping people from around the world who seek protection. Canada’s new asylum system and the enhancements to the resettlement program will enable us to help more people and to do it faster. The following table summarizes the upcoming changes to Canada’s asylum system, all of which are conditional upon the Bill receiving Royal Assent.

From current system … … To new system
Information gathered in 28 days through a Personal Information Form completed by the asylum claimant Information-gathering interview will occur no sooner than 15 days after a claim has been referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). The interview may be scheduled earlier if the claimant agrees. Counsel may attend.
Initial hearing at the IRB by Governor in Council appointees Initial hearing by independent public servant members of the IRB
No authority to designate countries of origin Authority to designate countries of origin
18 months for a hearing 90 days for a hearing for most claimants

60 days for a hearing for those from designated countries of origin
No tool to deal with clearly fraudulent claims Refugee Protection Division at the IRB can state reasons that claims are manifestly unfounded if they are clearly fraudulent
No appeal division New Refugee Appeal Division at the IRB

Decisions on appeals within 120 days unless a hearing is held

Decisions on appeals from people from designated countries of origin and those with manifestly unfounded claims in 30 days unless a hearing is held
Immediate access to a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) after the final negative decision from the IRB Access to PRRA after the final negative decision from the IRB is limited for one year, during which time the failed asylum claimant will be removed.
No Assisted Voluntary Returns Program Introduction of the Assisted Voluntary Returns Program
Pre-removal risk assessments conducted by CIC One year after the new asylum system is implemented the pre-removal risk assessment function will be transferred to the IRB

CIC will retain the authority to conduct pre-removal risk assessments for people who have been found to be inadmissible for serious criminality, organized crime, war crimes or national security
  Upon Royal Assent, the following changes to the humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act come into effect:
  • a person cannot have two H&C applications pending at the same time;
  • H&C decision makers will no longer consider risks that are assessed within the refugee protection process, i.e., risk of persecution based on grounds set out in the Refugee Convention or risk of torture, or of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment; 
  • the new measures also confirm in legislation the existing policy that an H&C application is not considered complete until the appropriate fees have been paid; as well,
  • the new legislation separates out the public policy provision from the H&C provision.


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