Regina: An Access Without Fear City?

I present the Access Without Fear City motion to Council this evening (June 26, 2017). The motion is the result of a collaboration with community members who have been working on this initiative since January, following President Trump's racist travel ban policies. I recommend that people read the motion instead of relying on media coverage.

WHEREAS the City of Regina’s Vision is to be “Canada’s most vibrant, inclusive, attractive, sustainable community, where people live in harmony and thrive in opportunity”; and

WHEREAS the Mayor and City Council have affirmed that the City of Regina is a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming for people of all faiths and nationalities, and that discriminatory actions have no place in our community; and

WHEREAS access to services including transportation, police protection, fire services, City programs, and emergency shelter are fundamental to the safety, security, and dignity of all people, and must be accessible to all, regardless of immigration status; and

WHEREAS migrants who do not have official immigration status and those with precarious, yet legal status frequently avoid accessing police and other municipal services out of fear that they will be separated from their children, detained, or deported, which prevents individuals from reporting crimes or accessing services that protect the health, wellbeing, and safety of themselves, their families, and communities; and

WHEREAS ensuring that everyone has access to basic and essential services without discrimination on the basis of immigration status is in accordance with international human rights obligations set out in the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD); and

WHEREAS over 300 jurisdictions across North America have adopted Sanctuary City and/or Access Without Fear policies as a means of creating welcoming and inclusive cities that protect and provide for all residents; and

WHEREAS the enforcement of immigration law is not a municipal mandate but a federal one, and municipal resources are intended for the fulfillment of municipal responsibilities;

Therefore be it resolved that

1. City Council commit the City of Regina to become an Access Without Fear City where all residents are recognized to have full rights to access city-administered services regardless of their immigration status; and

2. The City of Regina direct that immigration/citizenship information only be collected when specifically required by provincial and federal law; and

3. Immigration/citizenship information shall not be shared outside the City departments, boards and agencies that have collected it, unless through the informed consent of the Regina resident whom it concerns; and

4. City Council request Administration to conduct a review, with community consultation, and report to the Executive Committee in Q1 of 2018 on the following:

a. Opportunities for City-funded agencies to improve access without fear for refugees, immigrants, migrants, and undocumented residents of Regina, acknowledging that requesting proof of/sharing immigration status is a barrier to accessing public services;

b. A community stakeholder feedback mechanism that gives parties the opportunity to identify barriers faced by residents with precarious status to accessing services without fear and identify new opportunities to address these challenges;

c. A public education strategy to inform residents and community agencies of the City’s Access Without Fear policies and guidelines;

d. Where not already provided, training and education for appropriate City employees regarding access to City services for immigrants and Regina residents who possess precarious status;

e. Compliance mechanisms for third parties who are contracted by the City to abide by the Access Without Fear policy;

f. A designated liaison to work with community and City agencies to ensure a clear understanding of the Access Without Fear policy and expectations as it relates to programs, practices, and reporting requirements.

g. City Council request additional support and funding from the Provincial and Federal governments for immigration and migrant support services and the implementation of the Access Without Fear policy.

5. With the interest of ensuring that residents with precarious status do not fear accessing police services, City Council calls on the Regina Police Service to continue its practice of not collecting or exchanging information about immigration status during the course of street checks and investigations between agencies, including between police and private security firms. Furthermore, that Council calls on the Regina Police Service to include in its reports to the Board of Police Commissioners the number of cases involving immigration and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

6. City Council calls on the provincial government to improve services for refugees, immigrants, migrants, and individuals who possess precarious status with a view to ensuring access without fear to health care, emergency services, social assistance, workers’ compensation, occupational health and safety, employment standards, community housing, police protection, and other public services.