The world is witnessing an unprecedented number of refugees. Globally, 1.19 million refugees need resettlement. A third of those are from Africa.
In 2016, in response to the crisis facing refugees from Syria, Canada took action.
But since then, Canada’s leadership on refugees has dropped. The government has committed to resettle only 7,500 refugees. Canadians are ready and willing to sponsor refugees but they face long processing times and barriers to sponsoring more refugees. The government has failed to introduce necessary reforms to the refugee determination system to make it fair and efficient.
We need to lead, once again.
Canada has been a leader in responding to refugees, on human rights of all kinds. It’s who we are. We know how to lead. We want to lead.
Canada is a nation of immigrants. Refugees are a part of our fabric. We also know that those who come as refugees give back in so many ways: they make our communities stronger and better.
Refugees are our neighbours, part of our global family. That family is in crisis. And we need to respond. Today.
How can Canada once again be a leader on refugees?
The Canadian Council for Refugees is calling on the federal government to:
- Resettle 20,000 government-assisted refugees annually. Why?
- Introduce special measures to process the privately sponsored refugee (PSR) backlog by 2018, to open the door to increased refugee sponsorships by Canadians. Why?
- Make reforms to the refugee determination system so that it is fair and efficient. Why?
Why 20,000 government-assisted refugees annually?
According to the UN, more than 1 million refugees are in need of resettlement. These are the most vulnerable.
In 2016, the Canadian government committed to resettle 24,600 refugees, but in 2017 only 7,500 refugees.
The need is great. Canada has the capacity. That is why we are calling for the government to commit to 20,000 government assisted refugees annually.
Five reasons why:
- Refugees are our neighbours, part of our global family. We need to help our neighbours, and the government must take the lead, on behalf of all Canadians.
- Government-assisted refugees are the most vulnerable people, chosen by the UN because of their particular need.
- In our response to the Syrians, we have shown that we have the infrastructure and the capacity to resettle.
- Because they are vulnerable, they may need a little more time to get back on their feet, but they and their families will still contribute in many ways to our communities.
- It will only cost $4 more per Canadian per year to increase our commitment to 20,000 refugees.
We need to lead. Again.
Why clear the private sponsorship backlog by 2018?
The government has said that the backlog of private sponsorship applications will only be cleared in 2019. That means that refugees must wait years in unsafe situations. It also means Canadians face strict limits on new applications to sponsor other refugees in need.
The need is great. Canadians are willing and ready to sponsor more refugees. That is why we are calling for the government to introduce special measures in order to finalize by 2018 all private sponsorship applications submitted by December 2016.
Five reasons why:
- It is unfair to make refugees wait years in crisis situations before they can resettle in Canada. Some die while waiting. Those in Africa tend to wait longest.
- Canadians are ready and willing to sponsor refugees but there are strict limits on new applications due to the backlog. The sooner the backlog is cleared, the sooner the door can be opened to more refugee sponsorships by Canadians.
- Welcoming refugees is a national strength. Refugees are a part of our fabric. They make our communities stronger and better.
- Time after time, Canadians who sponsor refugees say that this experience makes their lives richer and that refugees give back in so many ways.
- Canada’s private sponsorship program is being promoted as a model around the world. We need to make sure it is working here in Canada!
Refugees are in crisis. And we need to respond. Today.
Why reform the refugee determination system?
Canada’s refugee determination system is one of the best in the world, but it urgently needs some changes. Government evaluations have shown that some current rules, notably regarding timelines and Designated Countries of Origin, are not functioning as intended (as well as being unfair). The government was expected to introduce legislative reform but has failed to do so.
Refugees who come to Canada and claim protection here deserve a fair hearing within a reasonable time. That is why we are calling for the government to introduce reforms to the refugee determination system to make it fair and efficient.
Five reasons why:
- This is a human rights issue. Canada has been a leader on human rights. It’s who we are. We know how to lead. We want to lead.
- The most important obligation under the Refugee Convention is to protect people from being sent back to threats to their lives. To live up to this obligation, Canada needs to make sure the refugee determination system is fair and efficient.
- Changes will make the system more efficient. Without changes, big backlogs will develop and everyone loses.
- The sooner Canada accepts refugees, they sooner they can contribute.
- Canada is seen as a leader in recognizing refugees. We need to earn to our reputation or it will disappear. Let’s walk the talk.