Last year, with the passage of C-43 – the omnibus budget implementation bill, the federal government removed the financial penalty for imposing a residency requirement for social assistance. There are exceptions. Canadian citizens, permanent residents, victims of human trafficking with a temporary resident permit, and accepted refugees would not have to meet this requirement. It is those who are not explicitly named who would be most adversely affected, and these are refugees who file their claims in Canada.
News: Refugee Rights
Canada is known for its welcoming policy for newcomers, but with over 50 million displaced people around the world, private sponsors are taking on more work as the federal government starts backing away. Churches or church-connected organizations represent 72 per cent of Sponsorship Agreement Holders. This puts them in a position to advocate to the government on behalf of refugees.
At the beginning of May, I attended a one-week course at York University on refugees and forced migration. One of the topics discussed was transitional justice. This form of justice moves away from our traditional focus on punishing perpetrators of a crime to prioritizing the emotional healing of the victims. It is restorative in nature and assumes a shift from one state to another; from violence to peace. This concept has become more and more significant as the end of civil conflicts worldwide have necessitated that perpetrators and victims find a way to live together once again.
Immigration policies should allow elderly immigrants the financial freedom to access social transfers (provided, of course, that they match the eligibility criteria) without solely relying on their children or grandchildren. This independence can allow for the formation of deeper relationships without the financial stress of this undertaking contract.
Near the end of 2014, reports emerged indicating that the Government of Canada planned to prioritize religious minorities when resettling refugees from Syria. This came amid increasing criticism of the government’s failure to meet even its dismal target of resettling 1,300 Syrian refugees by the end of the year.
In a remarkable display of solidarity, CPJ and the Canadian Council for Refugees brought together 25 Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and Sikh leaders. They signed on to a statement declaring their opposition to the selection of Syrian refugees according to religion.
Provinces not jumping to cut refugee social assistance access
Originally published in Embassy News.
Late last year, the federal government passed Bill C-43 allowing provinces and territories to restrict access to social assistance. It is now up to each province and territory to decide whether an individual must reside there for a certain period of time before they can access social assistance, and they may do so without losing federal funding for it.
In November 2011, a church submitted an application to sponsor a family of eight to come to Canada. At first, things were moving along well. The family was interviewed less than a year later, in July 2012. But now, more than two years since that interview and three years since the application was submitted, not only has the family not arrived, the sponsoring church has not heard anything from the Visa Office or Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and Sikh leaders in Canada stand up for Syrian Muslims seeking asylum
Imagine that you suddenly hear a massive explosion. Close enough that you can see buildings collapsing and dust filling the air. You can hear the screams of those nearer to the epicentre. This is followed by another explosion, and another, each one closer than the last.
Now imagine that this is a daily occurrence. You live minute to minute filled with dread, fearing for your own life and the lives of your family members.