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July 5, 2019

New Measures to Protect and Support Vulnerable & Disadvantaged Individuals

Posted by Rikhav Shah - Bellissimo Law Group PC

The Government of Canada recently introduced multiple new measures in order to better protect vulnerable individuals in Canada. They are:

  • Temporary Foreign Workers on an employer-specific work permit;
  • Newcomers experiencing family violence;
  • Individuals who did not declare all family members on their applications;
  • Visible minority newcomer women; and
  • LGBTQ2 refugees.

Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) with employer-specific work permits will now find it easier to get out of an abusive workplace. Beginning 4 June 2019, individuals in such situations will be able to apply for an open-work permit, valid for a short term, which will allow them to leave their current job and find a new one, while still maintaining their status. In addition, the employer will also face an employer compliance inspection. One can argue that TFWs always had the ability to leave their jobs, but this does not work in the practical sense, as the loss of job would mean they would have to leave Canada, which can easily lead to acceptance of an abusive environment.

Newcomers experiencing family violence will be better protected starting 26 July 2019, as they will be fee-exempt for a temporary resident permit that will give them immigration status in Canada, and which includes a work permit and health care coverage. Of note is that this program will only apply to foreign nationals in Canada who have not yet obtained their permanent residence and whose status in Canada is dependent on their abusive spouse or partner. It is unavailable to those outside Canada. Individuals in urgent situations of family violence who have applied for permanent residence based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds will also benefit by having the processing of their applications expedited.

Often, and for a variety of reasons, including ignorance and misinformation, individuals do not declare all of their family members in their applications. The result of this is that the excluded family member(s) is/are never examined by the Canadian government and thus a permanent bar is placed on the applicant on being able to sponsor that family member in the future. On 9 September 2019, a 2-year pilot program will be launched which will allow an individual to sponsor undeclared immediate family members. This provision will only be applicable to applicants who are either a resettled refugee, conferred refugee protection in Canada, or were sponsored as a spouse, partner or dependent child.

Newcomer women face multiple barriers in finding work and settling in Canada, including issues with discrimination, weak opportunities, childcare, and professional development support. The situation is even worse for newcomer women who are visible minorities. The Government of Canada has chosen to support 22 organizations across the country which will launch projects to address these issues over the next two years. These projects will be provided with funding up to $7.5 million over two years.

In 2011, the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Pilot was launched, with the goal to resettle 15 LGBTQ2 refugees per year through private sponsorship. The government will be introducing the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership in 2020 to build on the success of the pilot. A major upgrade is that the number of LGBTQ2 refugees to be resettled through private sponsorship will be increased from 15 to 50 per year. The program will provide start-up costs and 3 months of support to LGBTQ2 refugees who have been privately sponsored by Canadians. IRCC will be provided $800,000 for the next five years towards this new partnership.

Sources