CALGARY — The federal minister of Immigration, Ahmed Hussen says that it is convinced that the increasing number of asylum applications pending may be treated as a result of the changes made to the system of protection of refugees.
A little more than 64 000 asylum applications, of which nearly 35, 000 to concern irregular immigrants, are waiting currently for a decision of the immigration and refugee board (IRB).
The waiting period for the cause of an asylum-seeker to be heard is now nearly two years.
“We have appointed very many of the commissioners in order to be able to hold hearings in cities such as Calgary and Vancouver. We have invested back into the (IRB) to hire additional staff in order to implement innovations that will speed up the process without compromising the rigour of the process”, explained Friday in Calgary the minister Hussen.
“I trust that the recommendations made by Neil Yeates at its independent verification will allow us to move forward”, he added.
The independent review has highlighted the problems of persistent and systemic, and a history of failures to manage the peak periods, requests for asylum and to catch up on delays in processing requests.
Neil Yeates has recommended to change the mode of operation of the commission, including by placing it under the authority of the minister of Immigration. This recommendation has aroused strong opposition on the part of some who would prefer that the commission remains independent.
Ahmed Hussen has not said when these changes could be implemented, and has hinted that he wants to take knowledge of what the commission has to propose. At the end of the year, the commission announced the creation of a “special team responsible for the reduction in the number of asylum applications and less complex”.
A new board of management of asylum applications has also been put in place to improve the coordination between departments to accelerate the processing.
“The IRB has already put in place its own mechanisms for improving internal that resulted in a 50 percent increase in the number of cases that it is able to adjust,” said the minister.
Ahmed Hussen has announced that the recruitment of 248 new employees over the next two years, including 64 new commissioners of immigration, should help to reduce the long waiting lists that go back to the previous government of former prime minister Stephen Harper.
“The Harper conservatives have left a lot of vacancies at the immigration and refugee board. They also tried to press the “delete” button in 2012 and have created this long waiting list of refugees who still do not have a right to a hearing, as well as many others who wait for five years or more,” he complained.
“This is the situation which we inherited.”