OTTAWA — The federal Immigration Department has updated its anti-racism strategy following criticism during the Ukrainian refugee crisis, but groups representing applicants and refugees say it's unclear what will change for people who rely on the system.
The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada document released this week says the department needs to be more open-minded and self-critical in response to criticisms like those it received about the government's handling of Ukrainian refugees this year compared to Afghans fleeing the Taliban in 2021.
According to the strategic document, there has been little consultation with groups outside the government on this version of the strategy, and it says there are plans to do more in 2023.
Canadian Council for Refugees executive director Janet Dench, who was consulted, says the focus this time seems to be on racism in the workplace.
While those efforts are important, she says, there are other issues the department needs to address as well — like disparities in processing times for refugee claims.
The strategy does make it a goal to better understand systemic racism and bias embedded in the way the department delivers services, and to become more transparent by releasing more data to researchers and the public.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2022.
Laura Osman, The Canadian Press