Media Release in Response to the 2018 Immigration Levels Plan

logoredThe Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association

November 1, 2017

The Council of the Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association (SAH Council) represents more than 100 Canadian organizations that sponsor refugees under the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) Program.

  1. Multi-year levels and overall Immigration Targets
    The SAH Council welcomes the introduction of a multi-year Levels Plan.
    The Council has frequently asserted that past and current immigration levels were too low and will
    negatively impact Canada’s future as a nation. We appreciate that the envisaged targets begin to take
    into consideration the recommendations from many stakeholders, including humanitarian and business
    organizations.
  2. Proportion of Resettled Refugees within the Immigration Levels Plan
    The SAH Council is concerned that the multi-year plan leaves refugees behind. Notwithstanding the
    Government’s public statements in Canada and internationally that Canadians are welcoming and
    generous, it reduced the number of refugees that can be brought to safety in Canada through resettlement
    in 2017. Following the increase in resettled refugees admitted to Canada in 2016, the Government
    reduced the proportion of resettled refugees within the overall immigration level by almost half this year,
    from just below 15% to 8%. The 2018 targets in the multi-year plan maintain these restrictions on this
    humanitarian program. While the SAH Council appreciates the envisaged small increases in 2018, 2019
    and 2020, the proportion of resettled refugees within overall immigration levels is too low.
    This policy of focussing the immigration plans so heavily towards the economic stream over many years
    neglects the role of immigration with regard to nation building. Refugees bring important diversity and
    balance to Canada’s mosaic which has been shown to strengthen social cohesion. It is also short-sighted
    to ignore the fact that economic benefits flow from all immigration streams, not just the economic class.
    The Minister of IRCC acknowledged this reality during the press conference on November 1, 2017, but
    the plan fails to address the SAH Council’s concern.
    As a signatory to the New York Declaration and co-host of the 2016 Leaders’ Summit, Canada has
    positioned itself as a leader on refugee resettlement. As such, with the need for global resettlement rising
    and the number of available resettlement spaces decreasing, Canada must exercise global leadership by
    increasing its commitment to refugees.
  3. Partnership of the Government and Civil Society to Respond to Resettlement Needs
    Apart from the exceptional time frame of November 2015 – December 2016, when Canada resettled up
    to 25,000 Government Assisted Refugees (GAR) and up to 18,000 Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSR),
    Canada’s commitment to resettle GARs has not changed significantly with rising global displacement.
    Between 1995 and 2015, Canada resettled about 7,500 GARs annually (with numbers even lower from
    2012 to 2014), in spite of the fact that in the same time period global resettlement needs had risen by
    about 3,000%, and the number of globally displaced is at the highest level since the Second World War.
    The unchanged GAR figure in 2018 and continued low figure in 2019 and 2020 undermine Canada’s
    credibility as a global leader on refugee resettlement.

The Council is relieved that the target for privately sponsored refugees remains at a similar level to 2017.
However, with only slight increases each year until 2020, it does not address, in a timely manner, thebacklog of PSR applications that was greatly increased during the period of time when the Government encouraged and facilitated large numbers of Syrian and Iraqi sponsorship applications. The Government has made a promise to eliminate this backlog by 2019 and to reduce the processing time for new applications to about 12 months. To do this it was incumbent on the Government to assume the responsibility and use the 2018 Immigration Levels plan and the PSR target to take extraordinary measures and substantially increase the number of admissions of privately sponsored refugees in 2018. The SAH Council feels this was a missed opportunity and is concerned about the implications going forward. Many sponsors who mobilized in large numbers in response to the Government’s call are losing their motivation as they continue to wait to welcome the refugees they agreed to sponsor. The burden of the backlog will continue to be borne by civil society and the sponsored refugees.

 

Sabine Lehr                Brian Dyck                Aslam Daud                Paulette Johnson

Serena Richardson    Rob Shropshire       Donald Smith             Azaria Wolday