Advocate for restarting resettlement

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Join the CCR in calling on the government to restart resettlement by extending the exemption to the travel ban for refugees being resettled beyond those who had their permanent resident visa issued as of March 18, 2020!

Organizations are encouraged to write to local Members of Parliament, and/or the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Public Safety.

We would be grateful if you would copy the CCR (opr@ccrweb.ca) so that we can track the letters sent.

If possible, we encourage you to follow up after you send the letter by asking to meet with the Member of Parliament to discuss the request.

Below is a template letter that you can use as a starting point. Adapt it as relevant!

Template letter

Date

Name of your Member of Parliament
Address

[Find your MP at https://www.ourcommons.ca/members/en]

[You could also – or instead – send letters to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Public Safety]

Re: Restarting resettlement: call for an exemption from the travel ban

Dear Mr./Ms. (surname):

            I am/We are writing to join the Canadian Council for Refugees in recommending that the exemption to the travel ban for refugees being resettled be extended beyond those who had their permanent resident visa issued as of March 18, 2020.

Describe briefly your organization and its involvement in in resettlement. If writing to a local MP,  mention that your organization (or people you serve) are in their constituency.

Since March 2020, Canada’s travel ban has prevented refugees being resettled to Canada unless they had a permanent resident visa issued to them before March 18, 2020 (with the exception of a small number of urgent cases).

The travel ban has had devastating impacts on resettlement numbers. While we applaud IRCC’s efforts to resettle the most acutely vulnerable despite the pandemic, most refugees do not benefit from this exception. The backlog of PSR cases is over 50,000 and growing.

Refugees awaiting resettlement live in precarious circumstances, often in situations of prolonged displacement. The pandemic has only added to their vulnerability.

Canada’s travel ban does provide for numerous exceptions for travel deemed essential. Given that refugee resettlement is a matter of protection, we believe refugees’ travel is properly classified as essential.

We now have many months experience of resettled refugees going into quarantine on arrival in Canada, organized by the sponsors or the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) service providers. The monitoring of refugees’ respect for quarantine exceeds anything in place for other travellers, since either the RAP agency or private sponsors are checking in on the resettled refugees every day. The success with this should allay health concerns.

We note that the longer people spend waiting overseas in extremely dangerous and precarious circumstances, the harder the integration when they do arrive in Canada.

It is important to be managing the numbers of people arriving in a somewhat steady way to avoid huge pressures to bring everyone at once once the travel ban is lifted. The system would be overwhelmed if we are trying to achieve a year’s worth of arrivals to Canada in the space of a few months. Neither private sponsors nor RAP agencies can be expected to manage large numbers of arrivals at once – and the Canadian government and its partner IOM (which organizes the travel) would also likely struggle under the pressure.

IRCC is developing a new program integrity framework for Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs). It is quite possible that this may come into effect in the fall, which may well be the time when the border is re-opening. It would be difficult to ask SAHs to be welcoming large numbers of people at the same time that they are needing to familiarize themselves with new expectations about how they function.

Lastly, Canada has prioritized the reunification of family members through some exemptions to the travel ban over the past year. Refugee families also deserve to be reunited, especially during the pandemic. As we know, the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program is in part reuniting refugees with extended family already living in Canada. We believe that the restart of resettlement for all refugees, including those with family in Canada, is essential for the good of the resettlement program in general, as well as for the reunification of families who have waited many years to be together.

We hope that you will support our call for resettled refugees to be exempted from the travel ban, and raise this matter within Parliament.

We would be grateful for an opportunity to discuss this matter with you.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Your name and title

 

c.c.       The Hon. Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Minister@cic.gc.ca

The Hon. Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, hcminister.ministresc@canada.ca

The Hon. Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety, ps.ministerofpublicsafety-ministredelasecuritepublique.sp@canada.ca

Canadian Council for Refugees, opr@ccrweb.ca

 

Looking for guidance on the correct forms for writing to MPs, or Ministers? See https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/protocol-guidelines-special-event/styles-address.html#a2