Canada has also taken upon itself certain important obligations in international law, including the humanitarian duty to protect refugees. Yet historically, and still today, some of these rights and duties are not fulfilled. There are laws on the books that allow for the detention of asylum seekers, and for the mandatory detention of certain groups of refugees including children. Some newcomers are denied the right to healthcare even in the face of life-threatening medical conditions. And despite years of advocacy for fairness and accountability, there is still no independent oversight body over the Canada Border Services Agency despite the Agency’s power over the lives and liberty of people entering Canada, and some problematic practices.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants rights not just to citizens, but to every person in Canada.
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Bill 21Bill 21 is a law which disproportionately impacts people who are already marginalized. New Quebec laws ban Canadians working as teachers, lawyers, police officers, and more from wearing religious symbols such as crosses, hijabs, turbans and yarmulkes. This not only affects people currently working in the public sector, but also the youth who aspire to those careers.
Nell Tousaint: Our Case in the Federal Court of Appeal
With the support of our donors, we are able to continuously fight for the rights and freedoms of immigrants and refugees coming to Canada; people like Nell Tousaint.
Nell, who had lived and worked in Canada as an irregular migrant for almost a decade, was in the process of seeking to regularize her status when she developed life-threatening health problems.
She sought access to healthcare but was denied because of her immigration status. The Federal Court agreed that her life and long-term health had been put at risk, but they held that the violation of the right to life was justified to promote compliance with immigration law, ignoring the evidence filed in the case showing that most irregular migrants, like Nell, migrate for work and not to access health care
We worked closely with Nell to fight for her rights as a human being. We believe that a person living in Canada, regardless of their immigration status, and in need of life-saving healthcare is entitled to it. A refusal to provide it would violate this person’s right to equality under the Charter.
Cases like Nell’s continue to be a big problem in Canada today and affect the most vulnerable in our society.