On June 7, 2018 The Catholic Register published an article written by Michael Swan regarding the meeting of Catholic agencies that hold sponsorship agreements with the federal government in June 2018. They presented seven recommendations demanding changes and clarification of the new agreement between the Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association (SAHs) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
In the view of many of the SAHs the new rules and associated costs will also apply to refugees whose applications were made under the former agreement. The new agreement between the government and sponsors has the potential to be a huge burden on the budget of some SAHs, according to the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC).
In addition many of the Catholic SAHs complain that terms of a new agreement imposed on sponsoring agencies last year are constantly fluctuating and that lengthy processing times have “resulted in unjust, unplanned and significant burden to sponsors.”
“There is no methodology in place to quantify the value of the substantially greater non-financial support provided to newcomers under the PSR (Private Sponsorship of Refugees) program,” said the Catholic agencies.
The IRCC’s media relations department said it was unable to answer questions from The Catholic Register about how or why the new agreement has increased costs to sponsors.
Please read the full article in the Catholic Register: CRSC – Sponsorship Agreement
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Citizens for Public Justice – Help Refugees Flourish in their New Homes
CPJ is asking the community to write to the Canadian Government for the following:
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Janelle Lafantaisie wrote an interesting article with good news from Winnipeg. She recognizes the great work of Benedicte LeMaître who realized that Winnipeg is home to a large immigration and refugee population. Many of them do not have relatives who they could go to for hand-me-down clothes and other items. There is a large immigration and refugee population, many of whom have found a home parish at St. Mary’s Cathedral where there is the St. Elizabeth Closet which made its debut on Thanksgiving weekend of 2017. The Closet has been open during church office hours and visitors are welcome to take whatever they need at absolutely no cost.
All kinds of people benefit from St. Elizabeth’s Closet. One example is a gentleman who had some physical disabilities who came into the parish hall to browse through the piles of clothing. Another example is about a group from a very hot climate. They don’t own sweaters or mitts. That’s a lot to invest in all at once, but the Closet helped them.
The next steps for the Closet will take it beyond the walls of St. Mary’s Cathedral.
Please read the entire article here: Youth open closet doors to Winnipeg Feb. 2018
The Catholic Register, on Dec. 19, 2017 published an article by Michael Swan. The Canadian Council of Refugees (CCR) has just appointed a new President – Claire Roque from the Philippines. The position is a term of two years as President. Claire is herself a refugee and believes that her experience will be of great value in her new position. As president of the CCR, Roque hopes to push Ottawa into clearing the backlog of cases caught in the system.
She is employed by the Diocese of London as a “ministry specialist for inland protection of refugees.” Claire credits Bishop Fabbro of London for his great support. She started there as a volunteer in 2011 and a year later was employed full time.
“For the members of the CCR it’s a long-standing priority to make sure we have people with refugee experience among the leadership of the organization,” said Canadian Council for Refugees executive director Janet Dench.
Please read the entire article here: CCR New Leader Dec. 2017
On Oct. 30, 2017 the Catholic Register published an article by Ron Stang. In this piece he profiles Sr. Helen Petrimoulx and the great work she has done for refugees over the past several years in Windsor. She is called the “refugee specialist” and spearheads the fundraising for the Community Refugee Fund.
From their 10th annual fundraising dinner the proceeds go to support the Angela Rose transition house for refugees requiring short-term stays.
Marion Overholt, executive director of Legal Assistance of Windsor, a non-profit legal aid clinic, says “Sr. Helen has played a pivotal role and I know that, as a person of faith, she has offered that love and caring and financial assistance to refugees when other people just were oblivious and didn’t care.” Petrimoulx’s work with refugees has been recognized with several awards, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Windsor and the Order of Ontario.
Petrimoulx said many of the refugees who end up in Windsor are from countries in Africa like Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. However, Windsor has also been attracting refugees who originally landed in Toronto and Montreal, but are looking for a smaller city with a less intimidating atmosphere.
Please read the full article at the Catholic Register: Sisters – Driving Force
There are many issues and questions related to the Canadian approach to refugee settlement and sponsorship. Recently, there have been some groups who are talking about the issues and publicizing their concerns. One is Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ). This is a national organization of members inspired by faith to act for justice in Canadian public policy. The other is a local Toronto group headed by former mayor of Toronto John Sewell.
CPJ conducted a study of the issues as seen by various Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH’s) in Canada. The study entitled “A Half Welcome, delays, limits and inequities in Canadian Refugee Sponsorship”, focused these areas of concern. These include: long wait times for applications from Syrian and other countries to be processed by Canada, allocation limits from Syria and other parts of the world such as Africa and travel loans which need to be repaid beginning after 6 months for private sponsorships and not at all for Government Assisted refugees.
You can read the entire article here: Half Welcome
The group informally known as “Clearing the Backlog” is a community advocacy group consisting of many faith-based groups and other local community advocates. They are also concerned about the backlog indicating that it has climbed to about 45,000, and with the 9000 in Quebec’s frozen pipeline. Another concern is the limits on the number of applicants from various parts of the world, especially Africa.
This Backlog group can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Canada renews commitment to global refugee agency with additional $1.6 million
The Catholic Register reports, in an article published on March 21, 2017 by Michael Swan that the Canadian Government has committed 1.6 million to the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC). Refugee and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen made the announcement in Geneva March 15 when he renewed an agreement between the Canadian government and the International Catholic Migration Commission. Under an agreement signed in 2013, Canadian funding has allowed the Catholic agency to interview and process 41,300 refugees.
The ICMC works closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, sending specialized staff into refugee emergencies to conduct interviews and assess refugees for resettlement programs around the world. “The money we’ve been getting from the Canadian government allows us to send more people,” ICMC general secretary Msgr. Bob Vitillo told The Catholic Register by phone from Geneva. “It’s been a big help to us.”
You may read the notice on the ICMC website at this link: ICMC
Please read the article in the Catholic Register at this link: Canada Renews Commitment