Vancouver approves "access without fear" policy

Vancouver will adopt a "sanctuary city" approach like that of many US cities. Photo by Wikimedia commons.

Yesterday, City Council approved an "access without fear" policy. This is a big step forward to making our city a more inclusive, welcoming place to live.

Access without fear confirms that residents with uncertain immigration status or no permanent resident status can access city services with the knowledge that no information about their status will be shared with the Canadian Border Services Agency.

This is important because many people with uncertain status often are scared to come forward and access services in times of need for fear of punishment.

This is in response to the challenge of many in the community for a "sanctuary city" approach here in Vancouver similar to that in many American cities.
 
Yesterday's policy applies to city services only, but it's hoped the Vancouver Police Department, Vancouver Public Library and the Vancouver Parks Board will soon extend the policy to their operations. 

The Mayor's working group on immigration worked closely with a number of community stakeholders for the past two years on this policy.
 
The group heard heartbreaking stories, including women who were scared to go to the hospital when they were giving birth because of pending immigration status.There is no reason anybody should have to go through that. (Vancouver Coastal Health is making impressive steps to provide similar access without fear policies in their facilities.)

Vancouver is now the first city in western Canada with an access without fear policy. 

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