OTTAWA -- A list of so-called safe countries may be ready by "September at the earliest," helping Canadian officials deport bogus refugee claimants faster, QMI Agency has learned.
The list was part of a raft of immigration and refugee reforms passed into law last month.
A well-placed source says the list will likely include the United States and "most, if not all" European Union countries.
Safe countries are generally democratic and have strong legal systems, but the primary requirement for a country to be put on Canada's list is for refugee claims from it to have at least a 75% rejection rate, or a minimum 60% withdrawal or abandonment rate -- something seen with claims from Hungary and Mexico, for example.
Officials would process claims from "safe countries" within just six weeks, with rejected claimants deported before they can sign up for welfare benefits.
Canada imposed a visa requirement on Mexico in 2009 because of a spike in refugee claims that were mostly rejected eventually.
It's unclear if Mexico will be added to the "safe countries" list, but if it were, the need for visas might disappear.
Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Diane Ablonczy hinted on Wednesday the Mexican visa requirement may go on a permanent siesta.
"We'll see how it works out but we'd certainly like to see these difficulties cleared away," she said.
Canada is well behind many European countries in creating accelerated procedures for refugee claimants from "safe countries."
The U.K. has long fast-tracked claims from EU members, as well as Canada and the U.S.
Finland has a similar system in place, though without a formal list of "safe countries."