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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.
Last year, our country received global commendation for the successes of our private sponsorship of refugees program. Country representatives from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States came to Ottawa for three days, to learn more about Canada's private sponsorship program.
While Canada sets a good example on the international front, a number of challenges still impede our private sponsorship work at home. For instance, Sponsors are often met with long application wait times (with little communication on their applications), and there's a limit of 1,000 for applications in 2017. These could restrain the level of response sponsors can give in support of refugees in flight from danger.
CPJ calls on the government to ensure that private sponsors are better able to navigate policy and political requirements in their work. Any policy barriers to sponsorship will harm refugees — the very ones whom we seek to help.
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 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.
In April 2017, we released A Half Welcome, our report on private sponsorship issues in Canada which highlights refugee sponsorship agreements holders' top concerns with federal government policy.
CPJ provides timely analysis and research on refugee rights. Contact Joe Gunn for more information.
CPJ's research highlights the concerns of refugee sponsorship agreements holders as well as the negative effects that a minimum residency requirement for social assistance would have on refugee claimants in Canada.
A Half Welcome, CPJ's 2017 report on private sponsorship issues in Canada highlights refugee sponsorship agreements holders' top concerns with federal government policy.
Read CPJ's statements and letters defending the rights of refugees and newcomers in Canada.
Canadians take pride in our country’s multiculturalism. To truly embrace it, we need a new approach to how we treat those who seek refuge within our borders. Public justice means enacting policies that promote refugee resettlement and supporting refugees after they arrive in Canada.
Want to take concrete steps towards defending the rights of refugees?
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 your 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 rightse by reading the articles written by CPJ staff and citing CPJ’s work. Read more
In April, we released A Half Welcome, our report on private sponsorship issues in Canada highlights refugee sponsorship agreements holders' top concerns with federal government policy.
CPJ wrote a letter to Immigration Minister, Hon. Ahmed Hussen, to reconsider Canada's Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States, in light of recent immigration tensions in the US, and the impact these could have on fair hearings for refugee claimants there. CPJ noted that the agreement violates Canada's values of non-discrimination and equality on religious, national, and cultural basis.
In June, CPJ wrote a letter to Hon. Ahmed Hussen, asking the government to increase legal aid for refugees. The letter highlights the challenges proposed provincial cuts to legal aid pose to refugee claimants and migrants who rely on legal aid for their proceedings.
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.
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.
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
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