Letter: Canada to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees

After months of political pressure, the federal government announced that it will commit to resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years. The UN Refugee Agency appealled for 100,000 Syrians to be resettled around the world. Over the past year (in June and October 2014), CPJ called for Canada to live up to its ongoing commitment to welcome one out of every 10 of all resettled refugees globally. CPJ's Ashley Chapman published an op-ed in The Hill Times in calling on Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander to commit to bringing in 10,000 Syrian refugee (Canada's ten per cent) immediately. 

CPJ is heartened that the federal government has finally taken this step. But we also call for the government to move forward in consultation with private sponsoring groups. 

"Private Sponsorship and Public Policy," CPJ's latest study of private refugee sponsorship, demonstrated widespread frustration among private refugee sponsors with the lack of consultation from Citizenship and Immigration Canada over the past few years. The federal government's announced that of the incoming 10,000 Syrian refguees, approximately 60 per cent will be privately sponsored.

Read our response, in the form of a letter of appreciation to CIC Minister Alexander, below.

Letter

January 8, 2015

The Honourable Chris Alexander
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Dear Mr. Minister,

We would like to commend your government on yesterday’s announcement that Canada will resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years. Having previously sent two letters in June and October of last year urging the government to take this step, we are heartened by your response. This commitment will provide a lifeline to thousands of highly vulnerable individuals and honours Canada’s proud tradition of protecting refugees.

In your statement, you noted that approximately 60 per cent of these refugees will be privately sponsored, with the remaining 40 per cent to be sponsored by the government. Government’s consultation with sponsorship agreement holders can enhance, or can be one of the major impediments to private sponsorship, resulting in unnecessary delays. As such, we urge you to communicate openly and frequently with private sponsors so that applications may be processed expeditiously.

We also hope that your government will continue the important collaborative work with the UNHCR to identify the most vulnerable refugees in need of resettlement, regardless of religious affiliation. This upholds and builds on Canada’s historic support for refugee sponsorship and settlement in our country. We believe that all refugees are entitled to consideration for sponsorship and should not be automatically excluded on the basis of their religion. 

Again, Mr. Minister, we would like to thank you for taking this important step towards ameliorating the plight of Syrian refugees. We are certain that Canada’s enhanced contribution will be welcomed by the public and will make a significant difference in the lives of thousands of desperate refugees.

Sincerely,

 

Will Postma

Chair of the Board                 

 

Joe Gunn

Executive Director

 

Cc        Hon. John McCallum, Citizenship and Immigration Critic, Liberal Party

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, Citizenship and Immigration Critic, New Democratic Party

Syrian Refugees