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e-2793 (Foreign affairs)

E-petition
Initiated by Owen Lewis from Strathmore, Alberta

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

Whereas:
  • The new Hong Kong National Security Law is a violation of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ agreement which guaranteed the preservation of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong until 2047;
  • Hong Kong residents believe in and previously enjoyed such rights as equality before the law, freedom of movement, freedom of conscience and religious belief, freedom of speech, and privacy of communication;
  • These rights are now eliminated or endangered by the new security law imposed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP);
  • Hongkongers deserve to continue living in the relative freedom they have known for decades and to have the same for their children; and
  • As a liberal democracy, Canada is committed on principle to standing up for the rights and freedoms of people around the world, no matter their nationality.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Join other nations such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and Taiwan in opening the doors of our country to Hongkongers wishing to leave the increasingly oppressive conditions created under the new Hong Kong National Security Law;
2. Grant a special dispensation to allow the resettlement of between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Hongkongers not currently Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have been made vulnerable to political persecution by the new law, including streamlining applications and the opening of a logical and non-burdensome pathway for them towards Canadian citizenship;
3. Create and execute a plan to accomplish this by the end of the next decade (i.e. by the end of 2030).

Response by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Marco Mendicino

Canada shares longstanding ties with the people of Hong Kong and is concerned with the deteriorating human rights situation there. Canada will always stand up to the abuse of human rights everywhere, including for the people of Hong Kong.  On November 12, 2020, in response to these concerns and in recognition of the fact that many in Hong Kong are casting their eyes abroad, the Government of Canada announced measures which are designed to encourage Hong Kong residents, in particular youth, to choose Canada as a place to study, work, and settle.

Canada has longstanding and extensive arrays of pathways that Hong Kong residents can use to come to Canada either temporarily or permanently, including for work, to study, for permanent immigration, or for family reunification.

In addition to these existing options, the Government of Canada has introduced a new temporary residence initiative for Hong Kong youth that provides open work permits of up to three (3) years to those who have completed a degree or diploma from a designated Canadian post-secondary institution in the last five (5) years, or the equivalent credential from a learning institution abroad. Applications for the new open work permit opened on February 8, 2021. Individuals with these open work permits who would like to permanently remain in Canada would be able to apply for permanent residency after only one year of working in Canada.

The Government of Canada is also creating two new streamlined pathways to permanent residence, which will be available later this year. The first will target those from Hong Kong who have gained a minimum of 1 year of authorized work experience in Canada and meet other criteria such as minimum language and education levels. The second pathway will allow those who have graduated from a post-secondary institution in Canada to apply directly for permanent residence.

Taken together, these measures represent a significant expansion of the opportunities for Hong Kong residents, including those concerned about the evolving situation there, to come to Canada. Canada has opened its doors as others have done and these measures are a strong complement to those announced by Canada’s close allies. In fact, these measures introduced by the Government of Canada may be more facilitative than the measures announced by other countries, for example by allowing Hong Kong residents to submit a permanent residence application in as little as one year after arriving in Canada on an open work permit. Others who are already in Canada and have recently graduated from a Canadian post-secondary institution will be able to apply for permanent residency immediately.

In addition to the new temporary and permanent pathways, the Government of Canada is also processing Hong Kong work and study permits on a priority basis, and has shifted work to ensure there are sufficient resources dedicated to speed up processing of Hong Kong permanent residence applications, including for family sponsorship. Canada has also waived the cost of processing fees for individuals in Canada from Hong Kong who wish to extend their status.

With regard to those fleeing persecution, resettling refugees is a proud part of Canada’s humanitarian tradition. Individuals from Hong Kong who have fled their home country and have no other durable solution may be referred to Canada for resettlement by the UN Refugee Agency or Canadian private sponsors. Equally, Canada has a robust asylum system and like all foreign nationals who are in Canada, Hong Kong residents have access to this protection. Individuals who are eligible to make a claim are referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), an independent, administrative tribunal. In addition, asylum applications from Hong Kong are now assigned to a specialized taskforce at the IRB designed to accelerate claims processing. The IRB has a world-class research directorate that produces national documentation packages (NDPs) on all countries from which the IRB receives claims, including Hong Kong. These NDPs comprehensively cover the human rights environment in a country, and are updated regularly. In addition to NDPs, adjudicators who specialize in Hong Kong current events are assigned to members presiding over claims.

Due to the worsening conditions in Hong Kong that could put some individuals at risk, the Government of Canada has also implemented an exemption to the 12-month bar on a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) for Hong Kong residents in November 12, 2020. A PRRA examines the risk an individual may face if they are returned to their home country. Normally, individuals who receive a negative decision on their asylum claim from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada or the Federal Court, or on their previous PRRA application, are not eligible to apply for a PRRA for at least 12 months from the date of their decision.  Residents of Hong Kong are exempt from the 12-month bar if their Immigration and Refugee Board or previous PRRA decision was made between November 13, 2019 and November 12, 2020, inclusive. Any recent changes in country conditions would have been considered when the refugee claim was decided or during the PRRA process.

Support for human rights and the rule of law both at home and abroad remains a priority for the Government of Canada. Canada continues to closely monitor the situation in Hong Kong and will take further action if and when necessary.

Open for signature
September 15, 2020, at 8:59 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
January 13, 2021, at 8:59 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Martin Shields (Bow River)
February 23, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00530)
Government response tabled
April 12, 2021
Photo - Martin Shields
Bow River
Conservative Caucus
Alberta
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