Deportation measures are further complicated by health concerns surrounding COVID-19

With the development of COVID-19, there are prominent health concerns surrounding public safety and travel, specifically in examining the Charter rights of individuals being deported from Canada. Mr. Revell is a 56-year-old citizen of the United Kingdom (UK) who has been permanently residing in Canada since 1974.[1] In 2008, Mr. Revell was convicted of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking in Vancouver, for which he spent 5 years in prison.[2] After Mr. Revell’s conviction, Canada Border Service Agency issued a warning letter regarding his criminal record and any further interaction with the criminal justice system would jeopardize his immigration status in Canada.[3] However, this letter was never sent.  In 2013, Mr. Revell threw a remote control at his ex-girlfriend during an argument and pled guilty to two charges of assault, for which he received a probation and a suspended sentence.[4] These charges were independent from the 2008 conviction. At the hearing, the Immigration Division sought to have Mr. Revell removed from Canada because of his serious criminal record.[5] However, he is requesting an order staying his removal from Canada scheduled on June 23, 2020.[6]

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Mr. Revell requested a deferral of removal due to COVID-19, as such, he sought his removal to be deferred “until the curve of infection recedes in the UK to a level that permits the UK to withdraw its quarantine order.”[7] He contends that removal from Canada at this time would violate his section 7 and section 12 Charter rights.[8] Mr. Revell submits that the UK has been strongly impacted by COVID-19 and due to the their current quarantine laws, he would have to self-isolate in a hotel for at least 14 days.[9] However, Mr. Revell claims he does not have the financial capacity to pay for a hotel, or the delivery of food, and has no family or friends in the UK to stay with afterwards.[10] In other words, he would be completely uprooted from Canada and expected to go back to the UK alone, with limited monetary resources, in the midst of a global pandemic.

At the heart of Mr. Revell’s argument, facing a 14-day quarantine with limited funds and no support system in the UK during COVID times would be unduly harsh. Due to these compelling circumstances surrounding Mr. Revell’s case, along with the fact that he was not an imminent danger to the public in Canada, is not a flight risk, and has cooperated every step of the way during the removal process, the Federal Court concluded that he would suffer irreparable harm if he were removed from Canada at this time.[11] While the courts concluded that no Charter rights have been breached at this premature stage, if Mr. Revell is to be deported, it will be when medical epidemiologists deem it is safe for him and the public at large, at every step of his deportation process. [12] As such, the Federal Court granted Mr. Revell an order staying his removal from Canada.

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This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC Rights Watch Student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the view of the CCLA or PBSC.

[1] Revell v Canada, 2020 FC 716.

[2] Ibid at 4.

[3] Ibid at 5.

[4] Ibid at 6.

[5] Ibid at 7.

[6] Ibid at 2.

[7] Ibid at 10.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid at 11.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid at 19.

[12] Ibid at 24.