The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration has recommended that the Government of Canada evaluate conditional permanent resident status (of sponsored spouses), and monitor the number and outcome of abuse exception requests, percentage of tips that result in removal, and incidence of reported abuse within these sponsorships.
Debbie Douglas - OCASI Executive Director and many other witnesses who appeared before the Committee had recommended that the conditional permanent residency requirement should be removed immediately because it can make sponsored spouses - particularly women - more vulnerable to domestic abuse.
The Committee recommendation was one of five in the report, “Strengthening the Protection of Women in our Immigration System” tabled in Parliament on February 25, 2015. The report is an outcome of the Committee study on strengthening the integrity of the Immigration Spousal Sponsorship Program, undertaken between February 2014-2015. The New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party recommend the elimination of the conditional permanent residency in their Supplementary to the report.
Debbie's comments are footnoted at several points in the report, which also has this recommendation in the text:
"Finally, Debbie Douglas, of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, recommended “a national campaign to build awareness and education on preventing violence against women, including forced marriage.”96 This campaign would be targeted to service providers of all types, including those working with immigrants and refugees in shelters and housing, in health care, law enforcement, immigration, social work, and in the community." (pg. 32)
The five Committee recommendations are:
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada increase the minimum age for sponsored spouses from 16 to 18 years.
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada expand pre-arrival orientation to ensure sponsored spouses receive information in a language they understand and to ensure that the topics covered include gender equality, women's rights, their legal rights, what constitutes abuse in Canada and how to seek help. This information should be included in Citizenship and Immigration Canada publications, such as Discover Canada.
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada evaluate conditional permanent resident status and monitor the number and outcome of abuse exception requests, percentage of tips that result in removal, and incidence of reported abuse within these sponsorships with a view to understanding the effect of this policy instrument on domestic abuse and its effectiveness in terms of addressing marriages of convenience.
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, section 72.1(6) to include forced marriage as a ground for exception from the condition on permanent resident status.
The Committee recommends that the CIC designated help-line for victims of domestic violence be assessed to ensure that victims have timely and efficient assistance in their usual language.
Click here for the Committee report: Strengthening the Protection of Women in our Immigration System
See link below for written presentation by Debbie Douglas (Check against delivery).