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Statement from Bea Bruske: To uphold refugee rights, Canada must suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement

April 4, 2023

OTTAWA––Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress, released the following statement today: 

“On Refugee Rights Day, we recognize and celebrate the 1985 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that refugee claimants are entitled to fundamental justice. Today, Canada’s unions urge the federal government to uphold the principles of fundamental justice and fulfill its moral duty and international obligation to protect the well-being of people and families seeking safety, by suspending the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA).

“We are deeply concerned by the recent decision between Canada and the United States to expand the Safe Third Country Agreement. Expanding the Agreement to the entire border, including Roxham Road, means that refugees crossing in both directions will be driven underground, forced to take even more dangerous routes, and put their safety and lives at risk. It will inevitably lead to harm and more deaths.

“Under the STCA, refugee claimants must request refuge in the first safe country they arrive in. Although the United States is the only country that has been designated as a safe country according to the Agreement, the reality is that the U.S. does not guarantee safety for refugees.

“We all want to do what is best for our families. Under international law, people have the right to seek refugee protection and to a fair process that determines whether they should receive it. People seeking refuge in Canada deserve to be treated with compassion and must have their claims processed fairly and efficiently, not be turned back to harm.

“Canada’s unions stand in opposition to the Safe Third Country Agreement, and in solidarity with our allies fighting for migrant and refugee justice.

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