Press Release on the Reinstatement of Travel Loan for Syrian PSRs

 

The Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association

Media Release, March 2, 2016

The Council of the Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association (SAH Council) represents the organizations in Canada that sponsor refugees under the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

The SAH Council has been advised by the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that beginning March 1, 2016 Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria who are sponsored through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program will be required to pay back the cost of travel to Canada to begin their new lives. However, Syrian refugees being sponsored through the Government
Assisted Refugee Program and the Blended Visa Office Referred Program will not have travel loans. IRCC had previously waived travel loans for all Syrians travelling to Canada as of November 4, 2015 when the new Government came into power. It has been unclear what would happen after the Government met its commitment to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by February 29, 2016.

In the Government’s own evaluation of the Immigration Loan Program, it confirms that “requirements to repay an immigration loan are a source of stress and create additional challenges, such as the ability to pay for basic necessities.” It goes on to say that the need to repay a loan is having a negative impact on the initial settlement of some refugees.

The SAH Council was disappointed by the news to re-instate the travel loan for Syrians who are privately sponsored. Rather than moving towards eliminating travel loans for all refugees and not just Syrians, as the  SAH Council has requested, the Government has narrowed the categories of Syrian refugees who will benefit from this exemption and expanded the inequity. The Council calls upon the Minister to remove this inequity and obstacle to successful settlement in Canada for all refugees.