Submissions to the Supreme Court of Canada in Attorney General of Canada et al. v. Mavi et al.

by K. Lehal as counsel for EVA BC, 2010

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Legislation – Interpretation – Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27 – Sponsors of family class immigrants must undertake to repay government for amount of any social assistance received by sponsored relative during sponsorship period – Immigration and Refugee Protection Act stating that debt “may be recovered” by federal or provincial government – Whether Immigration and Refugee Protection Act provides a discretion to enforce sponsorship debt – Whether there is a duty of procedural fairness on both the federal and provincial government before they can exercise any rights to recover sponsorship debt – Whether, if there is a duty of fairness, the government is required to do more than to provide notice that it intended to exercise its rights to recover the debt.

Each of the eight respondents sponsored a relative who was a member of the family class for immigration into Canada. The respondents each signed undertakings to the Government of Canada confirming that they would support the sponsored relatives and would repay any social assistance benefits that were paid to their sponsored relatives by the government. Each respondent’s sponsored relative received social assistance payments from Ontario during their sponsorship periods. Ontario attempted to recover these payments from the sponsors under but all of the sponsors defaulted on the debts. The respondents applied for numerous declarations to be relieved of the obligation to pay the debts. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed the application for the declarations. The Court of Appeal for Ontario allowed the appeal and entered declarations stating that Canada and Ontario have a case by case discretion whether to enforce sponsorship debt, that Ontario fettered its discretion by adopting policies that are inconsistent with the provisions of the family class immigration regime, that Canada and Ontario owe sponsors a duty of procedural fairness when enforcing sponsorship debt and that the duty of procedural fairness includes the obligation to provide a process for explaining relevant personal and financial circumstances, the obligation to consider those circumstances and the obligation to inform that submissions have been considered and of the decision that was made.

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