Legacy Cases – The Final Chapter?
For those not familiar with the issue, back in 2012, Canada radically reformed our refugee system in a number of ways including changes affecting who hears refugee claims and perhaps most significantly reducing the wait times for such cases to be heard. Cases at that time were taking anywhere from 1-3 years to be heard, whereas the new legislation mandated that cases generally be heard within 60 days of the claimant’s arrival in Canada.
Unfortunately, due in part to a lack of funding, cases initiated prior to December 2012, were designated as “legacy” cases, were put on a “back burner” and held in abeyance and to this day have not been heard.
Now nearly 5 years later, the RPD has finally mustered the required resources to tackle these claims. The present plan is to create a special team of Board Members whose task will be to work through and resolve the legacy claims over a 2 year period starting in September 2017.
In order for this plan to succeed the Board will require coordination in a number of different areas. Will claimants be able to self fund and or to what extent will Legal Aid be called upon to step in when such funding is not available? Does Legal Aid have any such funding capacity in light of its recent proclamation to suspend refugee funding? What percentage of claimants are still in Canada and how difficult will it be to reach claimant’s after a 5-year gap in communication?
Logistics aside, the Board’s efforts to finally work through the legacy backlog are welcome though time will tell whether the Board will dismiss the majority of such claims on the basis that claimants are unable to document their fear after a 5 year delay from the time of their arrival. A much more logical and humanitarian approach would have been to concede the government’s failure to uphold its obligation to hear such claims in a timely manner and amnesty the legacy.
If you have any questions about Immigration or Refugee law please contact Shelley Levine at 416.364.2345