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:

Letter: Reconsider Safe Third Country Agreement

February 2017
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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. 

Letter: Stop calling refugee claimants "illegal"

June 2018

Read the letter

As refugee claimants continue to arrive at Canada's border from the United States, Canadians have been engaged in vigorous debate on how we should respond. International refugee law is clear that crossing the border outside of an official port of entry is legal. CPJ has asked that all Members of Parliament be careful in their use of language surrounding border crossers from the United States. A more appropriate term is "irregular refugee claimants."

Letter: Travel Loans Burden Refugees Disproportionately

November 2017
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CPJ responded to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, to continue to stress our concern over the extensive burden of travel loan repayment on resettled refugees' ability to adjust to new life in Canada. We repeated our recommendation for the federal government to cover all costs for resettled refugee travel to Canada, while raising an inquiry over the costs of administering the program. 

Refugee levels still too low

Citizens for Public Justice calls for stronger refugee resettlement in Canada 


Ottawa, ON: Nov. 2, 2017 — Yesterday, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) released details of the 2018-2020 Immigration Levels Plan. CPJ was pleased that our recommendation to set multi-year levels was adopted—the first such plan in nearly two decades. The plan outlines, among other things, the number of Government-Assisted Refugee (GAR) and Privately-Sponsorship Refugee (PSR) allocations for the next three years.  

CPJ Supports the CCR’s “It’s Time to Lead” Campaign

October 2017
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The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) recently launched a campaign encouraging the Canadian government to be a leader in refugee resettlement. Canada’s long and generous history of welcoming refugees, along with escalating needs worldwide, point to the necessity for our nation to step up its global leadership in refugee resettlement.CPJ stands with CCR’s “It’s Time to Lead” campaign, and asks that our government set an example before the global community of a justice-based, humanitarian approach towards refugees.

Letter: Canada Should Cover Refugee Travel Costs

October 2017
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CPJ wrote to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, to express our support for. proposed changes to interest charges on travel loans offered to refugees. The new policy changes outlined that no interest charges would apply to future loans and any outstanding loans would not accrue additional interest. We also repeated our recommendation for the federal government to cover costs for resettled refugee travel to Canada.

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
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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.  


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