The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) recently launched a campaign encouraging the Canadian government to be a leader in refugee resettlement. Canada’s long and generous history of welcoming refugees, along with escalating needs worldwide, point to the necessity for our nation to step up its global leadership in refugee resettlement.
For Canadian refugee policy to be as effective and just as possible, the CCR is calling for the government to commit to resettle a generous number of refugees, address issues that have created a backlog in applications, and fix inequalities in the refugee determination system. These recommendations align with CPJ’s A Half Welcome report, which point to long wait times and allocation limits as foremost issues in Canada’s refugee policy.
CPJ stands with CCR’s “It’s Time to Lead” campaign, and asks that our government set an example before the global community of a justice-based, humanitarian approach towards refugees.
CPJ supports the Canadian Council for Refugees’ recommendations calling on the federal government to:
- Resettle 20,000 government-assisted refugees in 2018 and beyond
- Clear the backlog of privately sponsored refugees
- Reform the refugee determination system so that it is fair and efficient
The CCR has indicated that these essential policy changes are needed to promote equity and efficiency in the Canadian refugee resettlement program. CPJ has made similar recommendations in the April 2017 report A Half Welcome.
First, the call for more Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs) is necessary to appropriately respond to the large number of refugees in dire need of resettlement worldwide, as identified by the UN. This is also a commitment that the Canadian government can certainly manage, as was shown in 2016, with the accelerated intake of GARs from Syria. We believe it is Canada’s duty, and in the best interest of Canadians, to commit to bringing in 20,000 GARs annually.
Second, putting resources towards clearing the backlog of refugee applications, as was also noted in our report, will be essential in the next year to address the large volume of requests for sponsorship by private sponsors. Canadians across the country are more than willing to support refugees, but have been waiting far too long due to the halted processing of applications.
Third, an equitable determination process is also a priority for CPJ, to ensure fairness and justice are carried out for all refugee claimants, regardless of their country of origin. Under the current system, legitimate asylum-seekers arriving from the U.S. are largely ineligible to make refugee claims at official border posts. Certain existing policies, including the Safe Third Country Agreement, wrongfully put some refugees at risk.
As people united by the Christian faith, CPJ believes more needs to be done by the government of Canada to meet the pressing needs of many of the world’s most marginalized. Church and faith communities have a long history of rising to meet the needs of those fleeing persecution, violence, and war.
Canadians have shown that they care about refugees and are ready and willing to respond with swiftness and hospitality. It’s important that our government continues to do the same. CPJ stands with the CCR, along with its members, in declaring that it is time Canada show itself as a leader once again, through the implementation of policy that upholds the needs of vulnerable people as its first priority.
Photo Credit: European Commission DG ECHO