Brief on the Proposed Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Bill C-11)

In 2001, the government introduced new legislation on immigration and refugee protection. NAWL proposed a series of recommendations to improve this legislation with respect to women.

For example, more than one third of all women who immigrate to Canada are members of the “family class”. Family class members are “sponsored” by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. The sponsor agrees to provide for the family member’s essential needs and to make sure that she does not have to apply for social assistance. The sponsorship regime leaves tens of thousands of immigrant women dependent and vulnerable.

Domestic workers who enter Canada under the Live-in Caregiver Program are also exceptionally vulnerable. NAWL spoke out in favour of changes to address the plight of these women who are treated as second-class immigrants under Canadian law.

Finally, in certain countries, arranged marriages, widespread conjugal violence and women not being allowed to go to school or work without their father or husband’s permission are still the norm. If women do not conform to religious, social and cultural norms, they may be persecuted. NAWL proposed that gender-based persecution be recognized in the Act as a ground for obtaining refugee status.