Rapport au :
Community and Protective Services Committee
Comité des services communautaires et de protection
30 March 2017 / 30 mars 2017
Submitted on March 23, 2017
Soumis le 23 mars 2017
Soumis par :
Catherine McKenney, Councillor / Conseillère
Catherine McKenney, Councillor, Somerset Ward / Conseillère, quartier Somerset
Ward: CITY WIDE / À L'ÉCHELLE DE LA VILLE
File Number: ACS2017-CCS-CPS-0002
SUBJECT: Sanctuary City Information Report
OBJET: Rapport d’information sur le statut de ville refuge
That the Community and Protective Services Committee receive this report for information.
RECOMMANDATIONS DU RAPPORT
Que le Comité des services de protection et d’urgence reçoive ce rapport à titre informatif.
There are people living in our city who are unable or too afraid to access basic municipal services because of their precarious immigration status.
Precarious immigration status includes a broad category of people without citizenship or permanent residency, including refugees, temporary foreign workers, international students, and undocumented migrants. Over the past several decades, the number of people living in Canadian cities with precarious immigration status has increased. This is partly due to changes to federal immigration and labour policy, including delays in the refugee appeals and family reunification processes, and the growth of temporary foreign worker programs.
People with precarious immigration status are living, working, raising families, and paying taxes in Ottawa. Many of these people are fearful of accessing city services they are entitled to, or contacting police if they witness or are the victim of a crime. If residents are fearful of being asked about their immigration status or of not knowing with whom that information might be shared, they may not access desperately needed services like food banks, EMS and emergency shelters. This situation has consequences for the city as a whole. All Ottawa residents have an interest in ensuring that victims or witnesses of crimes can come forward to police without fear, and in ensuring universal access to fire services and Public Health immunization clinics.
Immigration law enforcement is a federal responsibility. Municipal staff and service providers are not trained in immigration law enforcement, and should not be using local resources for this purpose. City Council, on the other hand, has the authority and responsibility to ensure that services provided by the City of Ottawa are accessible to all residents. Adopting a sanctuary city policy would increase accessibility by ensuring residents are not asked about their immigration status, and that information relating to immigration status would not be shared, except in cases required by provincial and federal law and with the informed and explicit consent of the person concerned.
Cities in the United States first passed sanctuary policies in the 1980s to protect refugees from Central America. Since then, hundreds of municipal governments in the United States have restricted the use of local resources for immigration law enforcement or declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented migrants. In Canada, the term “sanctuary city” refers to cities that implement policies to ensure all residents have access to city services and police protection regardless of their immigration status, sometimes referred to as “access without fear.” Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Hamilton have all passed such policies, and many others (including London, Guelph, Regina, and Fredericton) are considering sanctuary city motions.
Sanctuary city policies have two important components to them. A “don’t ask” component ensures that when people access city services or city-funded services they will not be questioned about their immigration status. A “don’t tell” component means that if service providers find out about someone’s immigration status in the course of their daily duties, they will not share that information, except in very specific cases where they are required to do so by law. Immigration status is treated as private and confidential, and people with precarious immigration status are able to access city services without fear of detention or deportation.
Women with precarious immigration status, and their children, are particularly vulnerable in our city. There are women in violent and abusive situations who do not access shelters or services that might help them leave those situations for fear they are going to be asked about their immigration status. A strong sanctuary policy would help alleviate this fear.
A sanctuary policy would also contribute to public safety and community policing initiatives. When police ask people about their immigration status in the course of their daily duties, or are seen to be immigration agents, this creates distrust, and people with precarious immigration status are less likely to contact police if they are the victim or a witness to a crime. Sanctuary policies help make a clear and public distinction between local police and immigration law enforcement.
As the attached ILC Legal Opinion states, municipal police are never required by law to ask for immigration information. Municipal police are also never required by law to share immigration information with other levels of government. With the exception of very specific situations where the Canada Border Services Agency requests that local police enforce an immigration warrant or written order, local police are not obligated to participate in the enforcement of immigration law.
The purpose of the sanctuary city policy is more than just a symbolic declaration that re-affirms Ottawa’s commitment to becoming a welcoming and inclusive city. If Ottawa declares itself a sanctuary city but concrete changes are not made at the level of service provision, undocumented residents and people with precarious immigration status may well be at increased risk when accessing city services they believe are safe.
Based on public feedback at Community and Protective Services Committee, a motion to City Council declaring Ottawa a Sanctuary City is forthcoming.
Note: To date, the move to declare Ottawa a sanctuary city has received overwhelming support from social service agencies engaged in the daily frontline work of providing services and support to communities who stand to benefit from such a policy, in addition to several key stakeholders involved in municipal affairs: 27 organizations working to end violence against women and advance gender equality, including the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW), the City for All Women Initiative (CAWI), Immigrant Women Services Ottawa, Family Service Ottawa, Jewish Family Services Ottawa, Ottawa Victim Services, and the Sexual Assault Network of Ottawa; Refugee 613; CUPE Local 503 Municipal Workers; the Ottawa & District Labour Council; the Federation of Citizens’ Associations of Ottawa-Carleton; and the United Church Presbytery (representing 54 churches in the Ottawa area), among others.
COMMENTS BY THE WARD COUNCILLOR(S)
There are no legal implications associated with the Committee and City Council’s receipt of this Report, for information.
However, it is worth noting that from a legal perspective, the ability to deliver certain municipal services may depend on compliance with applicable statutes, regulations and legal requirements as well as municipal policies and by-laws. In this regard, the City is obligated to provide lawful access to municipal services and programs, and to collect personal information as required for the proper administration of such programs and services in accordance with applicable laws.
With respect to the collection and disclosure of personal information by the City, the management of personal information is governed in accordance with the Ontario Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which regulates the disclosure of personal information in certain circumstances pursuant to Section 32, such as for the purpose of compliance with another statute of the Legislature or Parliament, or to a law enforcement agency, or to the Government of Canada or Ontario to facilitate the auditing of shared cost programs. It is also important to note that the non-compliance by municipal employees with any applicable laws, legal requirements, and municipal policies may result in legal challenges to municipal decisions or, in certain circumstances, an offence. For example, the Federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which tasks designated officers to issue warrants against individuals that are determined to be inadmissible pursuant to that statute provides in Section 127 that no person shall knowingly withhold material facts that could induce an error in the administration of the Act. Furthermore, Section 129 of that statute also provides that a person who obstructs or impedes an officer in the performance of the officer’s duties under the Act, is guilty of an offence and is liable, on conviction by indictment, to a fine of not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years, or to both, or on summary conviction, to a fine of not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both.
In addition, the costs which may be associated to perform a comprehensive review of City programs, applicable legal requirements, and the expansion or addition of City services to undocumented individuals in order to implement any policies associated with a “Sanctuary City” declaration, would likely require the expenditure of funds for external legal counsel.
In preparing these comments, Legal Services has not had an opportunity to undertake a detailed review Document 1, being the “Report by the Immigration Legal Committee” (ILC) which was presented to the Toronto Police Services Board in 2008. That said, it is understood that the ILC’s Report was received at the November 20, 2008, Toronto Police Services Board meeting and it was “the [Toronto Police] Chief’s view that their research has not produced any new answers to the questions of police officers’ legal responsibility of liability.” As such, the Board concluded at that time that a “Don’t Tell” policy was “not feasible” and the ILC’s mandate concluded. The Board also determined at that time that the existing police services policies were sufficient, with regards to “not asking” victims and witnesses of crime their immigration status unless there are bona fide reasons to do so.
With regards to Ottawa Police Services policies, it is important to clarify that the Ottawa Police Services Board is the appropriate jurisdiction to consider any such declarations or policies involving the police force and not City Council, in keeping with the Police Services Act. Subsection 31(1) of that legislation stipulates that it is the police services board that is responsible for the provision of adequate and effective police services in the municipality, for determining, after consultation with the chief of police, objectives and priorities with respect to police services in the municipality, and also for establishing policies for the effective management of the police force. Therefore, any policies respecting the implementation of a sanctuary city declaration involving the police force, including the consideration of any legal impediments, would remain within the jurisdiction of the Police Services Board.
The above-referenced structure serves to ensure the institutional and legal independence of police in carrying out their law enforcement role. In further support of such independence – and the position that it is not open to a municipal council to direct the police service - even the police services board is precluded by Subsection 31(4) of the Police Services Act from directing chief of police with respect to specific operational decisions or with respect to the day-to-day operation of the police force.
RISK MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS
ASSET MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS
There are no financial implications with the information contained in this report.
There are no accessibility implications associated with the Committee and City Council’s receipt of this Report, for information.
TERM OF COUNCIL PRIORITIES
Document 1 - A Report by the Immigration Legal Committee - Presented to the Toronto Police Services Board May 2008
Document 2 – Groups in support of Sanctuary City
Document 3 – Letter of Support – United Church
Staff will action any items as directed by the Committee.