Canada immigration anti-discrimination guidelines announced
Canada immigration anti-discrimination guidelines announced in the wake of allegations of systemic discrimination at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officials.
This is a result of IRCC’s Decision Making: Standard of Review and Process for Making a Reasonable Decision. In the decisions IRCC notes a Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling that all decisions by IRCC have to be both:
based on internally-coherent reasoning, and also;
justified in accordance with the legal and factual context of the decision.
In developing its Anti-Racism Strategy in late 2018 and early 2019, the federal government heard from many Canadians with immigration officers discrimination.
And also, report that IRCC released in late 2021 showed IRCC employees used racially offensive terms among co-workers.
Canada immigration anti-discrimination guidelines
These latest Canada immigration anti-discrimination guidelines set out a nine-step process for immigration officials to make their decisions.
First step is to follow applicable legislation and direction in each application category before IRCC official renders a decision.
Second, the IRCC official must identify which facts have to be proven in light of the applicant’s information in front of them. The facts must be material to the decision.
IRCC officials to use ‘Balance Of Probabilities’ standard of proof
The IRCC official must apply weigh the facts in evidence using “balance of probabilities”, rather than the higher “proof beyond doubt” standard.
“The applicant need only satisfy an officer of the facts based upon a balance of probabilities,” note the Canada immigration anti-discrimination guidelines. “An officer must not be overly suspicious or doubting of the evidence presented. That approach is not consistent with the presumption of truth that underlies the process.”
To help officials apply the appropriate standard of proof, the guidelines give four levels of proof. These are, from lowest to highest:
- mere possibility or suspicion – could be nothing more than a possibility unsubstantiated by facts;
- reasonable grounds to believe – a bona fide belief in a serious possibility that a fact has been established based on credible evidence;
- balance of probabilities – refers to circumstances where the existence of a fact is more likely than its non-existence, and that the issue to be determined is not only possible, but probable, rather than improbable, and;
- beyond a reasonable doubt.
Canada immigration anti-discrimination guidelines note that immigration proceedings and decisions are civil in nature. Therefore, the general standard of proof applicable to civil matters – balance of probabilities – applies.
This means that it is more likely than not to be true or that it is probable.
Third, the IRCC official must identify what evidence, documentary, physical, or verbal, is relevant to the application.
Canada immigration anti-discrimination guidelines – Credibility of Evidence
To ensure fair, objective and anti-discrimination evaluation, the guidelines require IRCC officials to examine the following:
- inconsistencies or spelling mistakes
- incomplete application, especially signature and date
- inconsistencies in information
- contradictions in verbal oral evidence
- the presence of bias
- indications of alterations or forgery;
- indications of document forgery, and also;
- damage documents and its legibility.
“Evidence that is indefinite, vague or improbable should be given less weight than evidence that is direct, detailed and unrefuted,” note the Canada immigration anti-discrimination guidelines. “For example, a person’s statement that they have never left Canada would be given little weight if stamps in their passport show entry into other countries.”
The IRCC must then make a decision fairly, without ignoring any evidence, and then record the decision for accountability, transparency, and traceability.
Finally, IRCC officials must:
use neutral, unbiased and comprehensible language with applicants
proofread the notes for innocent errors that may affect officials record accuracy and reliability
record all dates and provide other details, such as new evidence
document their assessment of the facts and evidence for decision. They must include the applicable legislative provisions, and reasoning, and also
undertake a final review of their notes to ensure their analysis supports the conclusions
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