Policy Statements: Refugee Rights

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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.

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.

CPJ calls on the federal government to: 

Reconsider Canada's Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States

CPJ maintains a longtime position on the discriminatory nature of the Safe Third Country Agreement. This pact denies most refugee claimants the opportunity to seek asylum legally in Canada, once they have done so in the United States.

Given the current unfriendly immigration policy developments in the United States, CPJ believes that refugees may not be given a fair hearing on their cases. This is why we call on the immigration minister, Hon. Ahmed Hussen, to reconsider the Safe Third Country Agreement.

Our federal government must ensure that refugee claimants have equal access to social assistance regardless of where they reside, their method of arrival, or the stage in their application process.

Learn more:

Address Refugee Poverty

Many refugees are vulnerable to poverty in Canada because they lack employment and language skills, among other factors. Our government must acknowledge poverty as it relates to refugees, in order to address it in a targeted way. Providing a general anti-poverty measure for refugees will fail to capture the complex interconnected factors that make them more susceptible to poverty in Canada.

CPJ calls on the Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development, Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, to ensure that the forthcoming Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy adopts a rights-based approach that melds refugees' experiences with poverty into actions taken to address the social issue. 

Learn more:

Resettle and Support Syrian Refugees

CPJ supports the government's resettlement of over 40,000 Syrian refugees.

The Syrian crisis is the greatest humanitarian challenge of our time. CPJ joined other organizations to call on the Canadian government to ensure that Syrian refugees were resettled without discrimination based on religion. 

We recognize the responsibility of citizens, institutions, and governments to do their part in supporting these refugees after they arrive in Canada.

Learn more:

Speed Up Application Processing for Refugees from Other Conflict-prone Regions

We also acknowledge that there are refugees from other parts of the world who are also vulnerable to all forms of atrocities. Many refugees from various global regions have been waiting for many years to have their applications processed. 

CPJ urges the federal government to commit to resettling refugees with the kind of political and financial urgency given to Syrian refugees in the heat of the crisis. This includes our call to devote $385 million in 2018 to accelerate the processing of private refugee sponsorship applications.

Learn more:

Consult with Refugee Sponsors

One way faith communities welcome newcomers is through sponsoring and resettling refugees. CPJ Churches and faith communities have identified major challenges to refugee sponsorship including long wait times; processing delays; and a lack of government consultation.

Refugees, private sponsors, and others who work directly with refugees have a wealth of knowledge and experience in regards to policy that welcome and support refugees in Canada.

It is critical that our government continues to seek and consider input from stakeholders when developing or making alterations to refugee policy.

Learn more:

Beyond Productivity: Promoting the Well-being of Canadians

Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Consultations
August 2017
Download the brief (PDF)

Focusing the budget discussion narrowly on productivity and competitiveness diminishes Canadians to our economic “value” as workers. This framework fails to account for personal fulfilment, community well-being, and ecological integrity. And, it ignores the importance and benefits of connection, culture, and creativity. Drawing on CPJ’s recent submissions to consultations on climate change, housing, and poverty reduction, and our work on refugees, CPJ hase developed a number of recommendations for Budget 2018 focused on human and ecological flourishing.

Letter: Increase Legal Aid Funding for Refugees

June 2017
Read the Letter
Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) joins the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) to call on the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, to increase legal aid funding for refugee claimants and migrants. In a letter addressed to the Minister, CPJ noted that recently proposed cuts to legal aid funding by the provinces will reduce refugee claimants’ access to legal counsel, especially when such claimants cannot afford to hire a lawyer.  

Letter: Reconsider Safe Third Country Agreement

February 2017
Read the Letter
Canada signed the Safe Third Country Agreement at a time when the United States government stood firm on its humanitarian obligations to those in flight from terror and persecution. Our government had confidence that the United States would treat all refugees fairly. Today, we cannot rely on the United States to provide a fair hearing to refugee claimants before they arrive in Canada. 

2015 Election Bulletin: A New Approach to Refugees

October 2015
Refugees, currently numbering 20 million internationally, are among the most vulnerable populations in the world. Many of those escaping conflict and persecution come to Canada seeking safety and protection. However, changes to our federal immigration system have led to a steady decrease in the number of refugee claimants accepted in Canada per year. This comes at a time when the world is facing one of the worst refugee crises in modern history.

Syrian Refugees: Discriminating by religion is unacceptable

Inter-faith Statement on Syrian Refugees.

December 2014
Read the Statement
Faith groups, including CPJ, responded today to 
reports that the Canadian federal government is only looking to resettle Syrian refugees from the country’s religious minorities. In their statement today on Syrian refugees, faith leaders supported the Canadian Council of Refugees in affirming and insisting that discriminating by religion is unacceptable. 

Protecting the Vulnerable

Brief to the Citizenship and Immigration Committee on Bill C-43

Submission to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration 
November 2014
Download the brief
"Protecting the Vulnerable" outlines the severe impact of these changes on persons with non-permanent status in Canada. It also presents findings from CPJ's latest report on refugees, "Private Sponsorship and Public Policy" and demonstrates the impact that such cuts will have on refugee-sponsoring churches and organizations

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