Canada's refugee sponsorship program under threat
Sep 22, 2014
Bureaucratic delays and federal cuts to health coverage are hurting the ability of churches and other groups to bring in refugees under Canada’s renowned private refugee sponsorship program, says a new study.
Based on a survey of the 85 private groups that have formal refugee sponsorship agreements with Ottawa, recent policy changes appear to threaten the vitality of the sponsorship program launched in 1978 amid an outpouring of public concern over the Southeast Asian “boat people” crisis.
After 36 years, churches and others say long waits, health cuts and policy changes are making it hard to continue personalized support for refugees.
Since 1978, more than 200,000 refugees have come to Canada through the efforts and financial support of faith groups, individuals, and community and ethnic organizations plugged into the program. In 2013 alone, 6,623 privately sponsored refugees were resettled in Canada.
Seventy-two per cent of the agreement holders are churches or church-connected groups, including Mennonite, Christian Reformed, United, Alliance and Presbyterian denominations.