Progress for Refugees Stalled by COVID-19: Report

Pandemic disrupts improvements to Canada’s refugee sponsorship program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

Unceded Algonquin Territory [Ottawa, ON]: June 19, 2020— Today, Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) has published Continuing Welcome, a report that analyses the gaps in Canada’s private refugee sponsorship program. Continuing Welcome is a follow-up to CPJ’s 2017 report A Half Welcome, which surveyed refugee sponsorship agreement holders regarding their major concerns with the program.

Refugee sponsors raised concerns with long wait times and backlogs, allocation limits, and refugee travel loan repayments. Though the federal government had been making improvements on these issues over the past three years, the COVID-19 pandemic has stalled their progress.

As a result of the pandemic, sponsorship applications are piling up because they are not being processed quickly enough. While Canada has set new multi-year immigration levels, we will likely not meet our 2020 goal.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the refugee resettlement sector globally,” says Stephen Kaduuli, CPJ’s refugee rights policy analyst who authored the report. “As Canada responds to and recovers from COVID-19, the federal government must work with refugee sponsors to achieve more fairness in systems that affect the refugees.”

Rebecca Walker, Refugee Manager of World Renew, also adds, “it is critical that the Canadian government ensure commitment to the 2020 immigration targets and to its goal of 12-month processing times. In these difficult times it is even more imperative that the rights of vulnerable refugees be protected.”

In Continuing Welcome, CPJ recommends that the federal government simplify and streamline the process of sponsoring refugees and reduce the backlog of applications.

“Canada has a long history of hospitality, cooperation, and support for refugees,” says Stephen Kaduuli.  “Refugees have become an essential part of the diverse tapestry of Canada.”

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For more information, contact Brad Wassink at ac.jpc@darb or 613-232-0275 x. 225. 

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