PBSC has long recognized the systemic and persistent barriers faced by refugees and immigrants in Canada. Barriers such as race, socioeconomic status, language, and gender identity/expression all act to exacerbate the inability of newcomers to access key services such as adequate healthcare, housing, and legal advice. With the process of obtaining refugee status being a confusing and intimidating one for many newcomers, this marginalization starts at the outset of their entry to Canada and serves as the first interaction with the legal system for many.
In 2019, PBSC began assisting refugee claimants awaiting their hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. Through The 519's Refugee Mock Hearing Program, dedicated and compassionate law students and lawyers guide refugee claimants through the process of a mock hearing, in order to help them feel more empowered to better understand the process and emotionally prepared to tell their story before a panel of decision-makers. In its first year, the Refugee Mock Hearing Program served over 50 clients, with this number expected to double in year two of operation.
In 2019, a record 64,050 individuals sought asylum in Canada.
LONG WAIT TIMES
Asylum-seekers wait an average of 21 months before their hearing in front of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.
Over 70% of individuals seeking asylum will depend on legal aid to assist with their claim.