As Canadians we are at our best when we treat refugees fairly and with respect and compassion. We must return to the better parts of our tradition of welcoming refugees.
—Human Rights Day Statement: What About Refugee Rights?
Historically, Canada has been known for its excellence in refugee protection. In 1986, the UN’s annual Nansen Refugee Award was given to the “people of Canada” in recognition of outstanding service to the cause of refugees. Canada remains the only country-as-laureate in the award’s 60-year history.
More recently, however, a number of disturbing shifts have placed economic and political concerns above humanitarian protection. Capped applications, mandatory detention, restricted medical care, and five-year bars on family reunification are the new normal for those escaping grave human rights abuses.
What We Do
CPJ works to educate the public — especially churches — on the ever-changing landscape of refugee legislation in Canada. Through research, policy monitoring, and publishing, we bring attention to the impact of legislative change on refugees and claimants, and on the groups who sponsor and support them to come to Canada.
We speak out against policies that disregard the rights and pre-migration experiences of refugees and newcomers to Canada. We also engage with parliamentarians to bring a public justice and human rights framework to the issues.
In response to the negative rhetoric increasingly colouring discourse about refugees, CPJ joined the Canadian Council for Refugees’ “Proud to Protect Refugees” campaign. Together, we’re working to change the conversation surrounding refugees in Canada to focus on the fact that despite incredible odds, they’re making major contributions to our country.
CPJ provides timely analysis and research on refugee rights. Contact Joe Gunn for more information.
2016: Cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program in 2013 left many refugees and refugee claimants without needed medical treatments. In defending the cuts, the government cast refugees as “bogus” and as “fraudsters” trying to take advantage our healthcare system. CPJ advocated for these cuts be be rescinded and celebrated when funding was fully restored in 2016.
2015: CPJ called for Canada to live up to its ongoing commitment to welcome one out of every 10 of all resettled refugees globally and resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees. In January 2015, the minister of Citizenship and Immigration announced that Canada would aim to meet this exact goal over the following three years.
2015: CPJ released "The Invisible Victims," a study demonstrating the severely negative effects that a minimum residency requirement for social assistance would have on refugee claimants in Canada
2014: CPJ released "Private Sponsorship and Public Policy," an in-depth research report outlining the political barriers to church-connected refugee resettlement in Canada
2014: Faith groups, including CPJ, responded to reports that the Canadian federal government was only looking to resettle Syrian refugees from the country’s religious minorities. In the "Inter-faith Statement on Syrian Refugees," faith leaders supported the Canadian Council of Refugees in affirming and insisting that discriminating by religion is unacceptable.
2014: CPJ joined 160 organizations from across Canada have to oppose parts of federal Bill C-43. An open letter was sent to Finance Minister Joe Oliver calling for the withdrawal of sections 172 and 173 in this bill, which would allow provinces to restrict access to social assistance benefits for refugee claimants and others without status in Canada. CPJ also wrote to the Premiers of each province and territory calling for them to protect refugees from these cuts and not implement the changes Bill C-43 allows them to make. We collected these responses here.
CPJ also submitted a brief to Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration entitled, "Protecting the Vulnerable: A call to safeguard social assistance for refugee claimants" expressing our deep concern regarding sections 172 and 173 of the omnibus Bill C-43.
2013: CPJ helped get Canadian church leaders involved in the Human Rights Day Statement on refugee rights, a powerful letter signed by 47 prominent Canadians urging the government to return to its strong tradition of refugee protection.
Want to learn more about the rights of refugee in Canada?
CPJ's research highlights the top concerns of refugee sponsorship agreements holders' top concerns as well as the negative effects that a minimum residency requirement for social assistance would have on refugee claimants in Canada. Read more
Want to understand how Christian values can translate into policy that protects the rights of refugees in Canada?
Read CPJ's statements and letters defending the rights of refugees and newcomers in Canada. Read more
Want to take concrete steps towards defending the rights of refugees?
It’s time to change the conversation about refugees in Canada. They have often endured incredible hardships and deserve our government’s protection — not suspicion, mandatory detention, or exclusion from urgent medical care. Read more
Stand up for refugees! Tell your MP that you support calls to review Canada’s Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States. Use the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue's Action Centre to call, write, or tweet to you MP, requesting that they ask the Minister to monitor and review the Safe Third Country Agreement, and explore other favorable refugee resettlement opportunities.
Want to know what CPJ staff have been saying on refugee rights?
Keep up-to-date with the latest news and views from CPJ on refugee rights. Read more
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