Posted on - Sep 08, 2015

By Catherine Sas, Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

The tragedy of young Alan Kurdi and his mother and brother is made even more acute in that it could have been avoided entirely. Without the need for slogging through either the international or Canadian refugee determination systems and ascertaining whether the Kurdi family are political or economic refugees, Canada’s immigration legislation, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) has the power to provide relief. What is necessary is for the will of our Minister of Immigration and his visa officers around the world to use the tools they have at hand. S. 25 of IRPA is such a tool.

S. 25 is the provision of IRPA that gives the Minister of Immigration and his visa officers the power to allow any permanent resident application on the basis of humanitarian and compassionate considerations, particularly in the best interests of a child directly affected. I have no personal knowledge of the circumstances of any application that went to Minister Alexander on behalf of the Kurdi family, residing in Vancouver who sought to bring their family to Canada to live with her. But I can assure you that section 25 provides the legal jurisdiction to allow such a request.

In a pivotal decision from the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999, Baker, Madame Justice L’ Heureux –Dube held that a decision maker in a humanitarian and compassionate application made pursuant to s. 25 ” must be alive, alert and sensitive” to the best interests of a child. Immigration lawyers routinely invoke these potent words in support of humanitarian and compassionate relief.

In recent years, Ministers of Immigration have provided special measures in circumstances of natural disaster to permit Canadian families to bring their relatives to Canada where they can demonstrate that their families have been directly affected. The earthquake in Haiti, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and the earthquake in Nepal are recent examples of such compassionate relief where immigration officers were directed to be facilitative in re-uniting families outside of the normal immigration processes. If we can do this in situations of natural disaster what stops us in circumstances of political crisis?

Canada’s Immigration laws already provide humanitarian and compassionate relief for compelling situations that particularly directly affect children. We just have to encourage our visa officers around the globe to utilize the power of s. 25 of IRPA and facilitate family reunification in such dire times.

Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 25 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 6 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

Share this article:

Related Topics: , , , , , , , ,

Related Posts

Canadian companies gain access to EU tech workers Canadian companies seeking skilled tech professionals and skilled EU tech professionals seeking to work in Canada will benefit from the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (“CETA”) that came into effect in 2017.
Immigration Minister Promises Faster Processing Times for Families in 2017 The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) has been busy making changes to Canada’s family reunification programs in December. In consecutive weeks during this holiday season the Minister has announced important changes to how sponsors...
Obtaining a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) For many foreign students in Canada, this is the means to Permanent Residence
Express Entry is not Easy Entry – Understanding Canada’s New Immigrant Selection System On January 1, 2015 Canada's immigration program was dramatically and fundamentally changed. Overnight our immigration program morphed from an applicant driven model, to a government selection driven model. Up until December 31, 2014 an applicant could app...
You’ve been Invited to Apply! What’s next for a BC PNP Business Applicant? As we learned in our last issue, the new BC PNP Entrepreneur immigration stream now has a scoring system that allows PNP officers to select only the highest scoring applicants and provide them with an Invitation to Apply ( ITA).
Working Illegally in Canada: Who’s to Blame – Employers or Employees? The topic of illegal workers has been featured prominently in the news recently with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in Vancouver conducting raids on several construction sites with television cameras in tow. This has drawn considerable media attenti...