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2019-2020 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada departmental progress report for Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Women, Peace and Security

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is participating in the second generation of the Action Plan 2017-2022 as a supporting partner. The Department will promote and support the Action Plan as the lead department on international migration issues and in supporting and protecting women and girls through Canada’s immigration processing, programs, and services. IRCC also works with likeminded countries at the multilateral level on issues of global importance—such as migration and the resettlement, integration of refugees from conflict-affected countries, and initiatives to build the capacity of international organizations to support survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. IRCC recognizes that women and girls are particularly vulnerable to being targeted for sexual and gender-based violence in situations of conflict and state fragility. In keeping with the principles of Canada’s National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security (WPS), the Department has put in place a number of policies and programs designed to provide protection and support to women and girls displaced by situations of conflict and state fragility. IRCC also provides targeted settlement supports for populations that experience increased vulnerability, including women and refugees. These services address the settlement and integration barriers for this population – empowering women and girls so they can participate in Canada’s social, cultural, civic and economic life.

Contributions on the International Stage

In December 2018, Canada joined a large majority of United Nations General Assembly Member States in adopting two Global Compacts, one on Refugees and one for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (Global Compact for Migration). The Compacts provide a compendium of best practices to provide guidance for States to consider when developing or updating migration-related policies and programs, as well as when implementing larger objectives to align with Canadian values, such as the respect for human rights and protection of the most vulnerable, including women and children on the move or forcibly displaced as a result of conflict. Almost 50% of international migrants are women, and gender considerations are, therefore, an important aspect of discussions, policies and actions taken in relation to migration. As States begin to implement both Compacts, Canada will continue to share and participate in and advocate for the development of gender-transformative and intersectional migration management practices and refugee responses within the international community.

Protecting Refugees

IRCC places a high priority on the protection of refugee women and recognizes their unique protection needs. Through the Assistance to Women at Risk Program, Canada provides resettlement opportunities to women abroad in precarious or permanently unstable situations who do not have the formal protection of a family unit. This includes women who are experiencing significant difficulties, such as harassment by local authorities or members of their own communities.

IRCC provides assistance through the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) for 12 months to Government Assisted Refugees (GARs), assistance for 6 months to Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) refugees, and assistance for 3 months to LGBTQ+ refugees who are privately sponsored (through a cost sharing arrangement with Rainbow Refugee society). IRCC also provides assistance to refugees who are identified as having special needs through Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) for up to 24 months.

Considerations in the Asylum System Regarding Gender-related Persecution

In addition to programs for resettling vulnerable women and girls from abroad, the in-Canada asylum system provides gender-specific protection to in-Canada refugee claimants who have fled conflicts or fragile states. The Department has developed specific program delivery instructions with respect to processing in-Canada claims for refugee protection of minors and other vulnerable persons. Provisions include ensuring a vulnerable person’s physical comfort; being sensitive to cultural and gender issues; and efforts to allow victims of sexual violence the option of choosing the gender of the interviewing officer.

Additionally, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), which hears asylum claims, has a set of guidelines specifically on how to treat vulnerable groups, including women refugee claimants fearing gender-related persecution. In May 2017, the IRB also announced a new Guideline to promote greater understanding of cases involving sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and the harm individuals may face due to their non-conformity with socially accepted norms. This Guideline aims to promote a greater understanding of the diversity and complexity that can be associated with having diverse sexual orientation and gender identity and expression; establish guiding principles for decision-makers in adjudicating cases; and provide parties with a clearer understanding of what to expect when appearing before the IRB.

Supporting Settlement and Integration in Canada

IRCC recognizes the significant contributions that newcomer women make to the economic, social, civic, and cultural life of Canada, and their key role in the settlement and integration of the family unit once they have arrived to Canada. Migration to Canada can bring many opportunities for women, but can also include distinct and multiple challenges such as navigating a new language, work transitions, childcare responsibilities, developing new networks, and shifts in family dynamics. Providing targeted settlement supports for vulnerable populations, including women and refugees, remains a priority area.

To address these challenges, the Settlement Program funds a range of targeted settlement services that can be accessed by newcomer and refugee women, including a pilot project to support employment programming for visible minority women, as well as additional supports such as mentoring, information and orientation on rights and responsibilities in Canada, women’s only employment and language training, and gender-based violence prevention support. Many of the organizations that deliver settlement programming in the area of violence prevention have strong community partnerships in place with local transition houses, police, and key emergency services to ensure holistic programming for victims of abuse.  These include activities and information to mitigate the risks of exposure to gender-based violence by strengthening knowledge of Canadian laws, social cohesion and community connections. These services are provided through online resources, publications, a variety of in-person services, as well as through referrals to important community supports. In addition, child-minding and transportation services are offered to ensure that women, who are often the primary caregivers, are able to access these integration services.

IRCC funded Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) services delivered to government assisted refugees upon arrival in Canada include referrals, when appropriate, to specialized services such as Centers for Victims of Trauma and/or Torture, as well as orientation to Canadian laws, including informing clients that in Canada women and men have the same rights and opportunities and abuse of any sort (e.g., physical, psychological or sexual) is a crime.

As with the in-Canada asylum process, the Department has developed specific program delivery instructions with respect to the resettlement of minors and other vulnerable persons.

In support of the Syrian resettlement effort, Canada funded enhancements to support the unique settlement needs of Syrian refugee women. These included additional conversation circles specifically for women to enable them to establish valuable social connections, learn about available community supports, practice their new language skills, and reduce isolation.

Actions to Address Gender-Based Violence to support newcomers to Canada

IRCC is a key partner in the federal action plan to end gender-based violence announced in June 2017, It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence. The strategy builds on federal initiatives already under way and coordinates existing programs. Under the strategy, IRCC received $1.5 million in funding over five years to further enhance the Settlement Program. This funding is being used to deliver targeted services for newcomer women and youth with place-based interventions as well as training for front-line settlement workers to assist in identifying abuse and making appropriate referrals for newcomers, including those in smaller cities and rural communities. IRCC also works closely with the federal department Women and Gender Equality on additional initiatives such as Engaging Men and Boys to address GBV as well as sharing promising practices with Settlement Provider Organizations.

IRCC resettles vulnerable refugees who have been forced to flee their home country due to persecution or massive conflict, including LGBTQ2 individuals who are often at heightened risk due to their sexual orientation or identity. The Department offers specialized settlement supports to all LGBTQ2 immigrants, including refugees upon arrival in Canada. The Department continues to work with LGBTQ2 stakeholders in Canada to collaboratively improve the available supports and ensure the refugee resettlement program includes an adequate LGBTQ2 lens.

In April 2017, IRCC removed a regulatory requirement that applied to some sponsored spouses or partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to live with their sponsor for two years as a condition to maintaining their permanent resident status. Previously, conditional permanent residence was in place for sponsored spouses or partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who were in a relationship of two years or less and had no children in common at the time of their sponsorship application. Sponsored spouses or partners were required to live with their sponsor for two years or risk losing their permanent resident status. Eliminating conditional permanent residence addresses concerns that vulnerable sponsored spouses or partners may stay in abusive relationships out of fear of losing their permanent resident status. This change is aligned with overall government efforts to support gender equality and combat gender-based violence.

Actions to Reduce Vulnerability in the Immigration System

IRCC has taken other steps designed to reduce vulnerability in the immigration system. In June 2015, a regulatory amendment to increase the minimum age of a recognized spouse from 16 to 18 in all permanent and temporary immigration programs came into effect. This was intended to decrease the number of potentially vulnerable young spouses immigrating to Canada who may not have the capacity to act in their own best interest, and could prevent some forced marriages from occurring. At the same time, regulations came into force to ensure that marriages that were conducted by proxy, telephone, fax, Internet or other similar forms (i.e. marriages where one or both parties were not physically present at the marriage ceremony), would no longer be recognized within permanent and temporary immigration programs.

Integration of Gender Considerations in IRCC’s Policies and Programs

IRCC is committed to integrating Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) to assess the potential impacts of its policies, programs, services and other initiatives on diverse groups of women, men and gender-diverse people, taking into account gender and other identity factors (e.g. race, ethnicity and religion).

IRCC has awarded a contract to a non-governmental organization to develop gender-based violence training for IRCC officers processing immigration applications, as well as for IRCC Client Support Centre Staff.  Once fully developed and launched, this training is intended to increase employee awareness of different forms of gender-based violence and equip them with tools to identify and appropriately address cases of abuse.  It will complement existing general training and guidance for these employees with more comprehensive training dedicated solely to the topic of gender-based violence and tailored to the immigration and newcomer context, to help ensure a trauma-informed approach to addressing these cases. This training aligns with the Government’s commitment to addressing gender-based violence, in contribution to the federal GBV Strategy to support victims across Canada, including migrants and newcomers.

IRCC is committed to addressing the following broad Action Plan objectives/actions which are of relevance to its work:

The bulk of IRCC’s work is mainly through domestic policy and programs, but IRCC also works with likeminded countries at the multilateral level on issues of global importance. In doing so, the Department contributes in important ways toward the empowerment, inclusion and protection of women and girls around the world – while taking into account gender and intersecting identity factors such as age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and ability.

The following activities that IRCC undertakes reflect IRCC’s commitment to advancing the Action Plan in its capacity as a supporting partner organization:Footnote 1

Objective 1

Gender is integrated in relevant IRCC program and application processes when IRCC programs (domestic and abroad) are developed or revised to ensure all efforts are made to meet relevant Action Plan objectives and to ensure a gender-responsive approach to applicants, refugees and other newcomers.

Refugee Resettlement Program

A-1.1 Maintain high priority on the protection of refugee women, and recognize their unique needs through the Assistance to Women at Risk program, and continue to resettle the most vulnerable groups, including refugee women and girls from abroad.

Completed activities:

Canada continued to resettle women and children through each of IRCC’s three refugee streams, relying primarily on the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to identify those most at risk and in need of resettlement.

In 2019 (January to December), Canada resettled 30,087 refugees, 47% (14,088) of whom were women and girls. Canada relies on the United Nations Refugee Agency to identify the most vulnerable refugees in need of resettlement, including women and girls. As part of its refugee resettlement efforts in 2019, Canada provided protection from gender-based persecution by resettling 1,446 refugees under the Assistance to Women at Risk Program, 998 of whom were women and girls.

As announced in Federal Budget 2018, Canada made a commitment to resettle an additional 1,000 refugee women and girls from various conflict zones around the world in addition to its existing commitments by the end of 2019. This commitment was indeed met by the end of 2019.

Settlement Program

A-1.2 Continue to fund and implement a range of targeted settlement services that can be accessed by newcomer women, including refugees, such as mentoring, information and orientation on rights and responsibilities, employment, language supports, and family and gender-based violence prevention support, as well as support services which include childcare, transportation assistance, translation, interpretation, temporary crisis counseling, and provisions for addressing disabilities, to reduce barriers to access settlement services

Completed activities:

IRCC continued to provide funding to more than 500 settlement service provider organizations across Canada (outside of Quebec) to deliver pre- and post-arrival settlement services. This includes mentoring, employment and language supports, transportation assistance, translation and interpretation services, short-term counseling, and provisions to reduce barriers accessing settlement services, as well as gender-based violence prevention support.

The Settlement Program’s 2019 Call for Proposals promoted a shift toward more outcomes-driven, efficiently-delivered, and client-centred services. IRCC implemented customized services with a stronger focus on gender-specific programming. This included: flexible scheduling of activities; place-based services such as pre-school education and language supports in the home; integrated childcare services; supports for survivors of gender-based violence survivors; information on Canada’s legal system, including gender equality and rights; and, recreational activities to create non-stigmatizing opportunities for dialogue on sensitive topics and develop healthy perspectives on gender roles and relationships. The Call for Proposals also sought to increase customized services for members of the LGBTQ2 community, such as peer-led supports and programming on LGBTQ2 rights and responsibilities.

A-1.3 As part of the “It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence” (GBV Strategy), implement enhancements to the Settlement Program to offer place-based services for newcomers who may face challenges in accessing gender-based violence supports and to provide training for front-line settlement workers to help identify gender-based violence and make appropriate referrals to support immigrant and refugee women and girls.

Completed activities:

To make progress toward enhancing the Settlement Program’s offer of place-based services for newcomer immigrants and refugees, in 2019-2020 IRCC supported the development of a settlement sector strategy on GBV through a coordinated partnership (GBV Partnership) of newcomer settlement and anti-violence sector organizations across Canada. The GBV Partnership is focused on capacity building for the settlement sector through developing consistency in gender-based violence policies and protocols, the establishment of a common base of knowledge on gender-based violence, training for front-line settlement workers to assist in identifying abuse and making appropriate referrals, as well as gender-based violence prevention programming for clients accessing services.

Key activities in 2019-2020 included creating a work plan and identifying a collaborative approach that integrates the knowledge and expertise of each organization and network they represent. The Partnership completed a capacity needs assessment for the settlement sector and presented the findings at the Canadian Domestic Violence Conference 2020 in Halifax, identified key strategic interventions to increase awareness on GBV, and leveraged existing resources to build settlement sector capacity. To support training for the settlement sector, the Partnership developed several national webinars on GBV with practical information on approaches that are culturally responsive and reflect intersectionality.

A-1.4 Establish a framework to assess vulnerability of women, girls, men, boys and gender-diverse people.

Completed activities:

IRCC continued to make progress to support vulnerable individuals, beyond the Settlement Program and in Canada’s immigration system and resettlement programs.

To address situations of abuse for workers with employer-specific work permits, IRCC introduced the Open Work Permit for Vulnerable Workers in June 2019. The new permit would enable workers with an employer-specific work permit to leave situations of abuse (physical, psychological, sexual or financial) quickly, transition to a new job, and maintain their immigration status in Canada. As of July 2019, application fees were exempted and it became possible for the applicant’s family members already in Canada to also obtain an open work permit.

Also in July 2019, IRCC implemented two initiatives to support newcomers in situations of family violence, and whose immigration status in Canada is considered precarious due to dependency on an abusive spouse or partner. First, out-of-status foreign nationals currently in Canada and seeking permanent residence dependent on remaining with an abusive spouse or partner were now enabled to apply for an expedited fee-exempt, temporary resident permit. This measure includes a fee-exempt work permit and Interim Federal Health Program coverage. Second, an expedited process was formalized for individuals in Canada in urgent situations of family violence and who apply for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

IRCC continued the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Pilot, a collaboration with the Rainbow Refugee Society, to support the costs of resettling privately sponsored LGBTI refugees to Canada. On January 1, 2020, the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership was launched, a new initiative to support more Canadians in sponsoring LGBTI refugees who are fleeing violence and persecution. Building on the success of the Pilot, the Partnership is a five-year agreement that provides start-up costs and monthly income support for up to 50 privately sponsored LGBTI refugees per year.

Indicators, Results and Progress

Settlement Program

I-1.2 Number of new settlement services based on gender violence interventions for newcomer women and families (such as activities to mitigate the risks of exposure to gender-based violence by strengthening knowledge of Canadian laws, social cohesion, and referrals to essential community supports specializing in violence prevention).

Results and Progress:

For 2019-2010, the GBV Partnership focused on increased capacity building for the settlement sector and formal collaboration among settlement and anti-violence sector organizations. Rather than creating new services in individual organizations, this systemic and sustainable approach will better address the issue of GBV.

I-1.3 Number of female clients who access each component of the Settlement Program (information and orientation, needs assessment and referral, language training, employment related services, community connections, and support services.

Results and Progress:

In 2019-2020, IRCC supported the settlement needs of more than 547,000 clients who accessed at least one Settlement Program service, of which 55% were women.

Women were:

Visible minority newcomer women can face multiple barriers when entering the Canadian labour market, and the $31.9-million Visible Minority Newcomer Women Pilot launched in December 2018 supports their employment and career advancement. In 2019-2020, more than 2,500 clients participated in the Pilot, including accessing employment-related services such as work placements, mentorships, and employment counselling. This supported them in acquiring knowledge, skills, and connections to prepare for the Canadian labour market. As well, 1,550 pilot participants were assisted in accessing support services, with transportation services to increase participation the most frequently used. This Pilot supports Canada’s Gender Results Framework on economic participation and prosperity by increasing labour market opportunities and participation for visible minority newcomer women.

At the end of 2019-2020, the emerging COVID-19 pandemic began to heighten economic and social integration barriers and exacerbated existing inequalities for newcomer and refugee women, girls, and members of the LGBTQ2 community. IRCC began efforts to support service providers and partners in navigating COVID-related challenges such as access to critical settlement services and addressing gender inequalities, work that will continue into 2020-2021. The Settlement Program’s 2019 Call for Proposals process, coupled with the introduction of five-year agreements (for which negotiations were completed before April 1, 2020), ensured stable funding for service providers during the pandemic, and service innovation and continuity for newcomers.

I-1.4 Percentage of newcomers and settlement workers who receive interventions funded by the GBV Strategy enhancement to the Settlement Program that report increased knowledge of gender-based violence and awareness of available services.

Results and Progress:

The GBV Partnership increased settlement service provider access to information and support on gender-based violence. The Partnership adapted its planned activities to respond to the COVID-19 context and developed several national GBV webinars with practical information on approaches that are culturally responsive and reflect intersectionality. These webinars will build the capacity of settlement and anti-violence organizations across Canada to help them communicate about this issue with immigrants and refugees.

The GBV Partnership supports the overall objective under Canada’s Gender Results Framework to address gender-based violence through capacity building for front line settlement workers and enhanced place-based services.

I-1.5 Creation and implementation of a policy framework for defining vulnerability.

Results and Progress:

IRCC made progress to support vulnerable individuals, beyond the Settlement Program and in Canada’s immigration system and resettlement programs.

Between June 2019 and March 31, 2020, IRCC approved 367 applications for the Open Work Permit for vulnerable workers, and women represented 32% of successful applicants. This may reflect the fact that there were fewer women (25%) with employer-specific work permits in the same period, which was the population that could potentially apply for this particular Open Work Permit. This might also be the result of women being under-represented in sectors that had the higher numbers of applications for these open work permits, namely agriculture and trucking. IRCC has committed to undertaking a Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) analysis of the outcomes to date of this program to better understand the diverse service needs and experiences of temporary foreign workers who experience abuse in the context of their employment, including the impacts of gender.

Between July 2019 and March 31, 2020, IRCC approved approximately 55 Temporary Resident Permits for family violence, and made approximately 35 positive eligibility decisions for individuals in situations of family violence who applied for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. The majority of applicants were women and dependent children, and these measures provided them with security of immigration status and time to decide their next course of action.

IRCC continued to work with civil society stakeholders to support the settlement and safety of LGBTI refugees to Canada. Work to address barriers specific to the resettlement of LGBTI refugees included developing enhanced knowledge of country conditions and training for IRCC staff on gender inclusion, diversity, and cultural awareness. In 2019-2020, 51 LGBTI refugees were sponsored and admitted to Canada through the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership. The Partnership strengthened collaboration between LGBTI organizations and the refugee settlement community in Canada, and supports the overall objective under Canada’s Gender Results Framework to combat gender-based violence.

Objective 2

IRCC employees are aware of women, peace and security issues and make gender-based considerations in the application of program and provision of services.

A-2.1 Continue to provide the training sessions on gender persecution and persecution based on sexual orientation as part of specific staff training before they go overseas to missions abroad to process the refugee caseload.

Completed Activities:

IRCC continued to provide training sessions that incorporate gender-based considerations in decision making to new Foreign Service Development Program cohorts, as well as to participants in the pre-posting Refugee course which focus on officers being posted to refugee processing missions.

IRCC also developed operational guidelines to assist officers in identifying and addressing cases where a person is in a situation of abuse, such as family violence or gender-based violence. These are applicable for officers conducting investigations or processing applications across immigration lines of business, including temporary residence, permanent residence, and refugee claims.

In the fall of 2019, IRCC recognized the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and promoted awareness internally within the department, including holding a panel discussion event with senior officials. As well, an additional event with an external speaker raised awareness of the issue of gender-based violence and the intersection with forced or early marriage and immigrant status.

A-2.2 Encourage all IRCC staff and senior management tocomplete the Status of Women Canada’s GBA+online introduction course, which provides a foundational understanding of applying gender and identity considerations to policies and programs.

Completed Activities:

IRCC continued to encourage employees at all levels to complete the online Government of Canada Introduction to Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) course. For example, a description and link to the course continued to be available on the department’s intranet site, which also provided resources to help employees use GBA+ in their work. As well, IRCC’s GBA+ Unit continued to advise departmental staff and management on best practices for apply GBA+ to policies and programs, internally and externally. This included facilitating GBA+ workshops for various groups to help implement best practices throughout the organization. The online Government of Canada Introduction to GBA+ course was emphasized in all workshops.

In October 2019, IRCC recognized the annual Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) Awareness Week with events and messages that raised awareness of the importance of GBA+, including promoting the online course. For example, employees participated in a peer networking event, where they shared information about how they implemented GBA+ in their work. Guest speakers during the week included award-winning author Samra Zafar, who shared her story of being a child bride and an immigrant, and escaping a decade of abuse, and Dr. Jenna Hennebry, Co-Founder of the International Migration Research Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University, who leads the development of a new Gender Hub supported by funding from IRCC’s International Migration Capacity Building Program.

Indicators, Results and Progress

I-2.1. Number of courses or training sessions given with a module on gender and decision-making (ex. Foreign Service Development Program training, Locally Engaged Officers training, refugee training, etc.).

Results and Progress:

In 2019-2020, training sessions that incorporate gender-based considerations in decision making were provided to three Foreign Service Development Program cohorts. As well, IRCC’s summer 2019 pre-posting Refugee course included a 1.5-hour module on Assessing Gender-Based Complex Relationships as well as a 3-hour module on Interviewing victims of trauma, recognizing signs & effects facilitated by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

A November 2019 Middle East Regional Refugee Workshop included subjects such as Women at Risk, LGBTQ2+, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Children, to enhance the skillset of this overseas refugee processing community of practice. IRCC employees in the Middle East also benefited from Standard Operating Procedures that include evolving best practices, peer coaching, and mentorship to help ensure gender-based considerations are taken into account when processing cases.

The guidelines for addressing cases where a person has experienced abuse were published in July 2019. These instructions help IRCC officers identify and address cases involving abuse, including sexual abuse, forced marriage, gender-based violence, female genital mutilation or cutting, honour-based violence, and family violence. The guidelines include interview considerations, assessing evidence of abuse, and understanding barriers experienced by victims of abuse. These guidelines support gender-sensitive decision-making and improve the protection of vulnerable people in the immigration system.

I-2.2 Number of staff who complete the Status of Women Canada’s GBA+ online introduction course.

Results and Progress:

In 2019-2020, at least 101 IRCC employees completed the Introduction to GBA+ online course. As this is a public-facing course not under the control of IRCC, it is not possible to confirm the exact number of IRCC participants, as employees may not have identified their place of work as they completed the online course. As well, many IRCC employees completed this course in previous years.

IRCC’s GBA+ Unit conducted nine workshops for various areas of the Department, providing guidance on best practices and encouraging participation in the GBA+ online introduction course.

I-2.3 Number of staff (overseas Locally Engaged Staff or other IRCC) who participated in the “gender and decision-making” training session.

Results and Progress:

In 2019-2020, three Foreign Service Development Program cohorts, totaling 25 employees, received training sessions that incorporate gender-based considerations in decision making.

The 2019 pre-posting Refugee course included 14 IRCC participants and 2 observers, and 26 IRCC employees participated in the Middle East Regional Refugee Workshop.

Objective 3:

Promoting gender-based initiatives in international fora.

A-3.1 Support gender-based initiatives in the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact for Migration and other agreements, fora or frameworks.

Completed Activities:

In 2019-2020, IRCC continued to engage with international partners to advance Canada’s international protection obligations, which includes the protection of refugees, particularly vulnerable women and children. This included advocating for the implementation of the gender-sensitive Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) that better protects and empowers vulnerable refugees, affirms international legal obligations, and increases international cooperation to better enable comprehensive refugee responses.

At the first ministerial-level Global Refugee Forum held under the GCR in December 2019, Canada pledged to continue providing protection responses for refugees with specific needs, with a focus on highly vulnerable women, children and LGBTI persons who are victims of persecution or have been affected by violence in their home countries. This included pledging to work with the UNHCR to provide protection under its refugee resettlement program for vulnerable individuals in Central America, including highly vulnerable women, children and LGBTQ+ persons, who are victims of persecution or have been affected by violence in their home countries.

At the UNHCR Executive Committee 2019 meeting with the UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for International Protection, IRCC officials reiterated Canada’s commitment to supporting UNHCR’s efforts to better protect women and girls, including the implementation of the Age, Gender and Diversity Policy.

IRCC also continued to support the gender-responsive approach to the implementation the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), including integrating and highlighting gender considerations in bilateral, regional, and multilateral discussions.

As well, IRCC funded the development of a new Gender Hub led by the International Migration Research Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University that will provide concrete guidance and resources on how to design, implement, monitor and evaluate gender-responsive migration policies and practices in line with the GCM. The project was funded in 2019-2020 with results anticipated in 2020-2021.

Indicators, Results and Progress:

I-3.1 Number of initiatives implemented under the Global Compacts that focus specifically on gender or that directly contribute to a gender-responsive implementation of either Compact.

Results and Progress:

As co-chair of the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement for 2019-2020, Canada held a working group meeting on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways with a focus on a number of gender-sensitive themes. A separate workshop was also held on the resettlement of LGBTI refugees to strengthen sensitivity to their unique needs.

IRCC continued to integrate gender into Canada’s 2019-2020 chairmanship of the Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees (IGC). This included actively contributing to an IGC working group meeting on the “Gender dimensions of integration: the needs of women, girls, and LGBTQ migrants.”

Canada continued working with the Canada Rainbow Coalition for Refuge to better understand the gaps and barriers LGBTI refugees face in resettlement and improve Canada’s resettlement and settlement services to ensure inclusivity. This included funding the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Pilot and announcing the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership.

IRCC supported the gender-responsive approach to the implementation the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), including consulting stakeholders to inform future engagement with the United Nations and other countries on gender-responsive implementation of migration policies.

I-3.2 IRCC engagements in bilateral and multilateral fora where Action Plan objectives were considered.

Results and Progress:

In ongoing engagements with UNHCR and other international fora, IRCC encouraged more gender-responsive humanitarian action in line with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy. Through statements, meetings with key UNHCR officials and other delegations, as well as stakeholder engagement at the 2019 UNHCR Executive Committee meeting, Canada continued to monitor and strongly encourage UNHCR’s commitments to women and girls, and prioritization of resources in this regard.

Canada also encouraged more gender-responsive humanitarian action and strongly promoted the use of gender- and age-disaggregated data by our partners, as well as a more robust results-based management framework. As well, Canada continued to encourage the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to fully implement its gender strategy and ensure the necessary resources are allocated for gender mainstreaming.

Canada approached GCM implementation by engaging civil society organizations that represent the experiences of women, girls, and gender-diverse persons. In 2019-2020, the UN Network on Migration invited Canada to champion the GCM internationally. This role is an opportunity for Canada to further advance and promote its commitment to gender-responsive implementation of the Compact in 2020-2021 and beyond.

IRCC actively engaged in Regional Conference on Migration (RCM) working groups on Protection, Labour Migration, Border Management and Irregular and Mass Migration. Supporting the implementation of the RCM’s Guidelines on Assistance and Protection of Women in the Context of Migration provided Canada an opportunity to share its leadership and best practices on integrating gender considerations in migration policy and programming, including the integration of Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in Canada’s policy making.

As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, Canada continued to highlight the importance of mainstreaming gender-sensitive humanitarian assistance, even during these exceptional circumstances.

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