2020-2021 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.
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 Plus) 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:
- To respond to sexual and gender-based violence in conflict;
- To promote and protect gender equality and women’s and girls’ human rights and empowerment; and
- To meet the specific needs of women and girls in humanitarian settings.
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 organizationFootnote 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: Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC continued to resettle refugees, including women and girls. Canada’s Refugee Resettlement Program remained in operation, providing much-needed protection to refugee women and girls who lack the protection of any state and any durable solution to their situation.
Under the Refugee Resettlement Program, IRCC continued to operate the Assistance to Women at Risk Program, which recognizes the unique risks faced by, and needs of, refugee women and girls. This program is designed to offer resettlement opportunities to women and girls who face risks related to their gender. Under this program, applicants are exempt from the normal requirement to demonstrate an ability to establish themselves in Canada. If required, it also allows for expedited processing and additional settlement support services once in Canada through the Joint Assistance Sponsorship Program. This program provides refugees with up to 24 months of support (instead of 12 months), and settlement supports are provided jointly by the Government and private sponsors.
The Urgent Protection Program also remained in operation during the pandemic, allowing IRCC to continue to provide rapid protection to refugees, including women and girls, facing immediate risks to their life, freedom, or safety. IRCC used National Interest Exemption Letters to permit these refugees in urgent need to escape risk and access Canada’s protection in a timely manner.
The Government of Canada has also prioritized the protection of Yazidi refugees and other survivors of Daesh, including women and girls targeted through sexual and gender-based violence. Since 2016, special measures put in place by IRCC have facilitated the resettlement of more than 1,400 survivors of Daesh, including family members. In March 2021, further measures were announced to allow for extended family members to join resettled Yazidi refugees in Canada.
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 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. Migration to Canada can bring many opportunities for women, but can also include distinct challenges such as navigating a new language, work transitions, childcare responsibilities, developing new networks, and shifts in family dynamics. Providing targeted settlement supports for diverse populations that experience increased barriers to services, including newcomer women, remains a priority area.
To address these challenges, the Settlement Program continues to fund a range of targeted settlement services that can be accessed by immigrant and refugee women 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 survivors 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, and 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. A range of tailored settlement supports are available to populations that face additional barriers to services and are at increased risk of marginalization, including newcomer youth, seniors, people living with a disability, members of the LGBTQ2 community, and other equity seeking groups. Gender-based Analysis Plus informs multiple aspects of the Settlement Program to meet the needs of diverse newcomers.
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 is a crime (e.g., physical, psychological or sexual). The Resettlement Assistance Program also provides support services such as transportation and interpretation to ensure equitable access to services for all clients.
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: IRCC is a key partner in the federal action plan to end gender-based violence announced in June 2017, 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 (2017-2022). This funding has been 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 gender based violence as well as sharing promising practices with Settlement Provider Organizations.
Additionally, IRCC resettles vulnerable refugees who have been forced to flee their home country due to persecution or conflict, including LGBTQ2 individuals who are often at heightened risk due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (SOGIE). The Department offers specialized settlement supports to 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 Settlement and Resettlement Assistance programs integrate the needs of members of the LGBTQ2 community.
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.
IRCC continues to successfully deliver on two measures introduced in 2019, to support foreign nationals in Canada who are in situations of family violence. These measures specifically support those whose immigration status may be precarious due to their reliance on an abusive spouse or partner for their status in Canada (including, but not limited to, sponsored spouses and partners).
Under these measures, individuals in vulnerable situations of family violence, who are out-of-status may apply for an expedited, fee-exempt, temporary resident permit (TRP), which includes a fee-exempt work permit and Interim Federal Health Program coverage. This provides protection to vulnerable individuals who are victims of family violence and/or their dependent foreign national children in Canada through security of short-term immigration status to help escape the influence of abuse, and grant them time to decide their next course of action.
These measures also include an expedited process for individuals in Canada who are in urgent situations of family violence and who apply for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds. This means individuals will have their permanent residence applications processed more quickly, with the goal of helping them leave abusive situations as expeditiously as possible.
Building on the success of the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Pilot which began in 2011, the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership is a 5-year initiative from 2020-24 that was established in cooperation with the Rainbow Refugee Society. The partnership encourages more Canadians to support LGBTI refugees as well as providing funding for LGBTI refugee resettlement, and seeks to strengthen collaboration between LGBTI organizations and the refugee settlement community in Canada. This initiative is in addition to existing refugee programs, which provide protection to vulnerable refugees, including individuals who have been persecuted on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender expression, and/or gender identity.
Further, in 2020-2021, IRCC used Gender-Based Analysis Plus in the development of the new refugee stream for human rights defenders in order to ensure that the stream best met the needs of the human rights defenders most in need of protection. IRCC undertook extensive consultations, including with many organizations specializing in or bringing a particular focus to the protection of women human rights defenders. IRCC recognizes that women human rights defenders face particular risks, including from their own communities or even families, due to the fact that they and their work can challenge patriarchal social norms. IRCC also recognized that women human rights defenders might face particular barriers to accessing protection. In order to address these challenges, IRCC secured the cooperation of two human rights defenders civil society organizations – Front Line Defenders and ProtectDefenders.eu- which devote particular attention to the protection of women human rights defenders, to identify human rights defenders to be resettled under this stream.
Note: Internationally, “LGBTI” is often used (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex). The Government of Canada uses LGBTQ2 (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit) domestically as 2-Spirit refers to conceptions of sexual and gender identity in some Indigenous communities in Canada.
Refugee Resettlement Program
I-1.1 Number of applicants (and/or dependents including spouses) who came to Canada through the Assistance to Women at Risk Program.
Results and Progress: The COVID-19 pandemic created significant challenges for the resettlement of refugees. Travel restrictions and other public health measures in Canada and abroad, reduced availability of flights, and pauses in the operations of key partners like the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Refugee Agency were some of the key challenges. Despite these challenges, Canada safely resettled a total of 9,235 refugees via its Blended Visa Office-Referred (52), Private Sponsorship of Refugees (5,313), and Government-Assisted Refugees programs (3,870) in 2020.Footnote 2 Of all resettled refugees in Canada in 2020, 46% (4,293) were women and girls. As part of its refugee resettlement efforts in 2020, Canada provided protection from gender-based persecution by resettling 639 refugees under the Assistance to Women at Risk Program, 428 of whom were women and girls, and 115 refugees under the Urgent Protection Program, of whom 55 were women and girls.
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: Canada’s federal Budget 2021 included additional funds to continue with enhancements to the Settlement Program to address gender-based violence. The Gender-Based Violence Strategy Partnership is a unique collaboration between settlement and anti-violence organizations to build the capacity of the sector to address gender-based violence for immigrants and refugees. To date, the GBV Partnership has completed a needs assessment for the settlement sector and created a series of online capacity building trainings to establish a common base of knowledge and assist front-line settlement workers to identify abuse and make appropriate community referrals. Hundreds of new and returning participants attended these trainings, all of which were adapted to an online format during the pandemic. The trainings are available on the website www.ngbv.ca, along with the settlement sector strategy.
This initiative is contributing to Canada’s broader gender equality goals and addresses gender-based violence for newcomers through capacity building for front line settlement workers and enhanced place-based services. It aligns with the goal of Pillar 4 (Gender-Based Violence and Access to Justice) of the Gender Results Framework: Eliminating gender-based violence and harassment, and promoting security of the person and access to justice.
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: IRCC’s 2020 Settlement Program data indicates that women account for 56% of unique clients. Despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department continued to apply a Gender-Based Analysis Plus lens to support populations that experienced increased vulnerabilities and complex needs. For example, during the pandemic IRCC was able to introduce flexibilities to ensure effective management of our settlement sector grants and contributions program. This allowed the sector to pivot to virtual service offerings and in person only when necessary and safe to do so. Settlement service provider organizations (SPOs) adapted quickly and provided a high degree of service continuity to newcomers while respecting changing public health guidelines. The settlement sector was also able to prioritize the continuation of critical services such as gender-based violence supports.
IRCC works with partners that deliver crucial services to newcomers to support their integration into Canadian communities. Service delivery improvement (SDI) projects test new ways of improving settlement programming to make it more responsive to newcomers’ circumstances. The most recent SDI expression of interest process launched in November 2020, integrated Gender-Based Analysis Plus considerations throughout the application requirements to address the needs of diverse populations based on intersecting identity factors such as gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, race, etc.
Despite travel and border restrictions, Canada continued to welcome refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a number of urgent protection cases. For government-assisted refugees (GARs) — who constitute some of the most vulnerable clients served by IRCC— the department designated immediate and essential services including the Resettlement Assistance Program and case management as critical. This meant that settlement service provider organizations were able to deliver some of these services to refugees’ in-person and remotely, either upon arrival or shortly after arrival. IRCC procured and distributed a supply of personal protective equipment to settlement service providers who were delivering in-person services to help ensure the safety of staff and newly arrived refugees. Similar to the Settlement Program, IRCC introduced flexibilities to ensure effective management of grants and contributions for the delivery of the Resettlement Assistance Program.
Canada’s Federal Budget 2021 included additional funds for the Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot (formerly the Visible Minority Newcomer Women Pilot) to continue to provide support to improve the employment outcomes and career advancement of racialized newcomer women in Canada through the delivery of targeted settlement services. The additional funding builds on existing investments: Budget 2018 committed $31.9M for a three-year pilot (launched in 2018) to support the employment and career advancement of racialized newcomer women. Programming has been designed to address multiple barriers, including gender- and race-based discrimination, precarious or low income employment, lack of affordable childcare, and weak social supports. This initiative aligns with the goal of Pillar 2 (Economic Participation and Prosperity) of the Gender Results Framework: “Equal and full participation in the economy”. This initiative will contribute to greater opportunities for racialized newcomer women to participate equally and fully in the economy, and best practices may inform further settlement supports for newcomer women.
Furthermore, IRCC’s annual Newcomer Outcome Survey for 2020 for the first time included a question on race, resulting in the collection of race disaggregated data for newcomers, including non-clients and clients of the Settlement Program, and refugees. These quantitative data will be combined with other qualitative and quantitative data in future years to produce a more comprehensive picture of the barriers faced by racialized newcomers. This will provide an evidence base about potential programming and policy changes for future funding processes to help weed out any racial bias in the department’s programs and policies and to inform the direction of targeted programming aimed at supporting racialized clients. An intersectional lens will be used to better address not only the needs of gender-diverse racialized clients, but also the needs of racialized newcomers from all equity-seeking groups.
Nevertheless, COVID-19 has tested the limits of timely data collection and analysis for diverse populations. IRCC is exploring what data gaps persist for immigrants and refugees in this context, as well as building internal data capacity in order to fully leverage available information as part of IRCC’s approach on evidence informed Gender-based Analysis Plus.
Ensuring that the immigrant and refugee populations most impacted by COVID-19, particularly women and girls, seniors, and members of the LGBTQ2 community, have continued access to the supports and services they require to successfully integrate as well as equitable outcomes, remains a challenge as the country moves into the recovery phase.
In 2020-21, female clients continued to receive variety of services in slightly lower numbers due to COVID and restrictions on newcomer arrivals to Canada. The proportion of women accessing supports remained higher than men across all services:
- Needs and Assets Assessment and Referrals: 183,831, of those 102,028 were female (56%)
- Information and Orientations Services: 310,364, of those 173,926 were female (56%)
- Community Connections Services: 58,665, of those 35,450 were female (60%)
- Language Training: 74,972, of those 51,300 were female (68%)
- Language Assessments: 28,948, of those 18,196 were female (63%)
- Employment Related Services: 41,189, of those 23,253 were female (56%)
- Case management (usually uptake is multi-barrier clients including refugees): 8,289, of those 4,331 were female (52%)
- Support services
- % of clients who received care for newcomer children support services who were female: 86%
- % of clients who received crisis counselling services who were female: 60%
- % of clients who received transportation services who were female: 60%
- % of clients who received disability support services who were female: 55%Footnote 3
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: In response to mounting evidence and growing concern about the increase in gender-based violence (GBV) during the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC consulted with stakeholders across the country to identify and mitigate the barriers to supports and services for newcomers experiencing violence. Consequently, IRCC issued guidance and resources to the settlement sector to continue providing GBV supports as a critical and essential service online, via telephone and in-person when it was necessary and safe to do so. IRCC also continued the expedited processing of temporary resident permits for cases of family violence and trafficked persons.
Addressing gender-based violence and all forms of gender inequality for newcomers, in particular for women and girls who have borne the brunt of the unprecedented socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, remains a priority for IRCC moving forward and an ongoing challenge beyond the recovery phase.
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. Since the July 2019, launch and up to March 2021, IRCC has approved a total of 167 temporary resident permit applications from victims of family violence, indicating an increase of 112 approved applications since March 2020. With respect to Humanitarian & Compassionate applications, 109 submissions have been approved to grant permanent residence to victims of family violence. The majority of applicants for these measures were women and dependent children.
Temporary Resident Permits and Humanitarian and Compassionate applications from individuals who experienced family violence were processed at a faster rate in comparison to standard applications in order to reduce the risk of immediate harm among victims of family violence. However, the impact of COVID-19 did influence the Department’s timeliness in processing a wide range of applications in 2020. Prior to the pandemic, Humanitarian and Compassionate and Temporary Resident Permits admissibility processing was entirely paper-based. While applications were still being processed expeditiously, the impact of COVID-19 temporarily slowed down the ability to finalize cases with officers working remotely. However, Humanitarian and Compassionate and Temporary Resident Permit applications adapted a virtual model (i.e. scanning paper applications for digital accessibility) that has helped mitigate delays. There has also been the implementation of digital intake solutions for Humanitarian and Compassionate applications.
Furthermore, throughout 2020, the Department has continued its engagement and strengthened its relationship with the LGBTQ2 community, holding in-person and virtual meetings and working closely with key partners in the community to identify gaps and barriers that LGBTQI refugees experience in the resettlement process. The Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership provided start-up costs and 3 months of support to 50 LGBTQI refugees who are privately sponsored by Canadians. Since 2011, over 160 refugees have arrived through pilots and partnership with the Rainbow Refugee Society. The Rainbow Refugee Society has worked with 43 sponsorship groups and 8 Sponsorship Agreement Holders in these efforts.
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 incorporated gender and decision-making components. These include the Family Class and Refugee Class training sessions, which have been delivered to a diverse clientele at IRCC, including the Foreign Service Development Program cohorts.
A-2.2 Encourage all IRCC staff and senior management to complete the Status of Women Canada’s GBA Plus 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 Plus) 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 Plus in their work. In addition, IRCC’s GBA Plus Unit continued to advise departmental staff and management on best practices for the application of GBA Plus to policies and programs, internally and externally. This included facilitating GBA Plus workshops for various groups to help implement best practices throughout the organization. The online Government of Canada Introduction to GBA Plus course was emphasized in all workshops.
Every year the GBA Plus Unit organizes GBA Plus Awareness Week. In November 2020, the week included a presentation from the Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics Hub housed at Statistics Canada on the importance of using data from a GBA Plus perspective. Disaggregated data is key to enabling GBA Plus that can support the development of more equitable policies, programs and outcomes for Canadians and newcomers. Additionally, GBA Plus Awareness Week included a 101 course, partnered with an “Ask Me Anything” session, that allowed employees to become more acquainted with the analytic lens, as well as ask any questions they may have pertaining to the utility and function of GBA Plus in their lines of work.
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: IRCC continues to deliver Family Class and Refugee Class training sessions to a diverse clientele, including to individuals that comprise the Foreign Service Development Program cohorts, as well as Foreign Assignment Officers. Both the Family Class and Refugee Class training modules incorporate gender and decision-making components.
I-2.2 Number of staff who complete the Status of Women Canada’s GBA Plus online introduction course.
Results and Progress: In 2020-2021, at least 2,442 IRCC employees completed the Introduction to GBA Plus online course. As this online introduction course is public-facing and 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. In addition, many IRCC employees completed this course in previous years.
In 2020-2021, IRCC’s GBA Plus Unit conducted ten workshops for various areas of the Department, providing guidance on best practices and encouraging participation in the GBA Plus 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: IRCC currently does not have the ability to track the completion rate of training sessions that include gender and decision-making. However, the Department is currently working to increase statistical ability of this for future evaluations.
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: Consistent with its commitment to GBA Plus, Canada is focused on how it can engage in a more inclusive and participatory manner at home and abroad. Internationally, Canada engages bilaterally and multilaterally in order to promote dialogue and collaborative responses to migration management and refugee protection, and offers opportunities for learning and exchange. As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, Canada continued to highlight internationally the importance of mainstreaming gender in migration and refugee protection policies, practices and initiatives to understand and address the diverse needs of women, girls and other vulnerable groups and achieve better outcomes in post-pandemic recovery.
The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) identifies gender-responsiveness as a crosscutting and guiding principle in migration. As Canada is a GCM Champion country, encouraging a gender-responsive approach to migration management is a key priority for Canada. Canada also funded migration capacity building projects and research to support gender-responsive migration management.
Through statements, meetings with key United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officials and other delegations, as well as stakeholder engagement at the 2020 Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR), Canada continued to monitor and strongly encourage UNHCR’s commitments to women and girls, and prioritization of resources in this regard.
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: IRCC participated in the first-ever Global Compact for Migration (GCM) Regional Review Forum for the Europe and North American region on November 12-13, 2020 to discuss regional progress in advancing the Global Compact for Migration, as well as share Canada’s initiatives to implement and champion the Compact. Canada stressed the importance of advancing the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration in a gender-responsive manner, and continues to call for practical tools and guidance to support greater progress in this area globally.
IRCC continues to fund the development of a new Gender + Migration 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 Global Compact for Migration. This project will expand to include training resources. The project was funded in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, with results anticipated in 2021-2022.
IRCC also supported a research project and publication by the International Organization for Migration on the impacts of COVID-19 on migration and migrants from a gender perspective, and endeavors to support policy and programmatic responses during and following the pandemic. The project is in the development phase, with results expected in 2021-2022.
I-3.2 IRCC engagements in bilateral and multilateral fora where Action Plan objectives were considered.
Results and Progress: As part of Canada’s engagement in the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), IRCC co-launched and is actively contributing to the implementation of a global communications campaign called It Takes a Community (https://ittakesacommunity.org/). The campaign aims to promote a more balanced narrative on migration by sharing inclusive stories about the positive contributions of migrants, including migrant women and girls, to communities worldwide. A mid-year assessment of the campaign will be completed in 2021 to assess, among other factors, the diversity of representation in the campaign in order to ensure that the voices of women and girls are being heard and elevated through this initiative.
As Chair of the Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees (IGC), Canada introduced Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) as a cross-cutting theme of its chairmanship and incorporated gender dimensions of migration and protection in the agendas for senior officials’ meetings and in the interventions of Canada’s IGC head of delegation. For example, in October 2020, Canada led a discussion of IGC member state senior officials in exploring the differentiated impact COVID-19 was having on women and racialized workers. Canada also co-chaired an October 2020 joint meeting of the IGC’s Integration and Immigration working groups which explored the impact of COVID-19 on workplace diversity and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on migrant women.
IRCC continues to actively engage in the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM) working groups on Protection, Labour Migration, Border Management and Irregular and Mass Migration. This year, Canada participated in discussions under the Protection Working Group to support the implementation of the RCM’s Operational Guidelines for the Determination of the Best Interests of Boys, Girls and Adolescents in Contexts of Human Mobility, as well as the Regional Congress on Women Migrants to promote gender-based narratives.
Further, Canada is increasingly taking steps to ensure additional voices are heard. In the 2020 EU-Canada Migration Platform Event on the Integration of Migrant Women jointly organized by Canada and the European Commission, migrant women shared their expertise and led the conversation at the concluding high-level panel with Canada and EU Minister-level participants. Such engagements help support greater inclusion and the empowerment of migrant women.
Canada’s leadership to promote gender-responsive migration management in international fora has been in demand, which has resulted in increased engagements on this topic. However, Canada’s ability to affect and quantify change internationally remains a challenge, and Canada recognizes the need to continue raising the importance of gender-responsiveness in migration management.
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