Canada needs to step up for refugees during the pandemic

Published in The Hill Times on February 22, 2021

By Stephen Kaduuli

The pandemic has profoundly disrupted refugee resettlement. Thankfully, resettled refugees whose visas were approved before March 18, 2020, have been exempt from Canadian border restrictions. Since then, however, many have been trapped in limbo due to their delayed departures. Only a limited number can be finalized for travel due to restricted capacity. What’s more, travel restrictions apply to any refugees approved after March 2020.

The flow of refugee arrivals to Canada has slowed to a trickle. Yet, it is possible for Canada to both contain the virus and to continue resettling refugees.

The SAH Association has called on the government to continue fulfilling Canada’s commitment to resettling refugees by providing protection to them. This means adding an exemption to the travel restrictions for all refugees regardless of their approval date. Private sponsors are ready to continue working to welcome refugees. But they need the government to work with them.