A Progress Report on A Half Welcome
Continuing Welcome analyses the federal government’s efforts to address the refugee sponsorship challenges raised by Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) in A Half Welcome, CPJ’s 2017 report.
In A Half Welcome, SAHs called for transparent policy dialogue on long wait times and backlogs, allocation limits, and travel loans—the core barriers to private sponsorship. CPJ and our partners have engaged in continued advocacy on all three issues.
Here, we track the progress that has been made over the past three years. Continuing Welcome also addresses arising issues such as additionality in sponsorship, SAH-government communication, family reunification, and program monitoring.
While there have been some improvements in the refugee resettlement process in the past three years, significant gaps remain.
1. Wait Times and Backlogs
Prior to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, processing times and the clearance of refugee sponsorships backlogs were improving. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the refugee resettlement sector globally. Sponsorship applications are piling up because they are not being processed. The federal government must be ready for this new backlog.
Recommendation: The government should increase their efforts to reduce the backlog of PSRP applications and make the achievement of a 12-month processing time frame a top priority.
2. Allocation Limits
The government should be applauded for reintroducing the much advocated for multi-year immigration levels plan which allows for more predictable sponsorship planning. However, Canada’s annual immigration intake might not be achieved this year due to the pandemic.
Recommendation: In collaboration with SAHs, government should simplify and streamline the process of sponsoring refugees under the PSRP and to reduce the bureaucratic processes that hinder private sponsors from working effectively.
3. Travel Loans
On February 21, 2018, the federal government made travel loan repayment easier for some refugees. Because of concerted lobbying and advocacy efforts by CPJ and other stakeholders, another minor victory was achieved when IRCC agreed to settle the repayment of travel loans for exceptionally higher-needs GARs and JAS cases through the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP).
Recommendation: The government must waive loan repayment requirements completely for all refugees.
CPJ and the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue have prepared an online action to support the recommendations in Continuing Welcome.