CCR calls for a national system for asylum with dignity

The Canadian Council for Refugees calls for the establishment of a national system to ensure Asylum with Dignity for refugee claimants

MONTRÉAL/OTTAWA, April 4th, 2024 – On the occasion of National Refugee Rights Day, the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) is calling on the government to address critical gaps in the reception and support of refugee claimants arriving at our borders by establishing a national system that builds on the success of the one that serves resettled refugees.

Despite Canada's reputation as a global leader in refugee resettlement, refugee claimants—those who seek protection at our borders or from inside the country as opposed to being approved overseas—face significant challenges upon their arrival, often navigating a complex and daunting system without adequate support.

"The government is addressing a long-term issue with stop gap measures and the lack of a coordinated response serves neither refugees nor the public,” says Gauri Sreenivasan, Co-Executive Director at the Canadian Council for Refugees. "Canada has the infrastructure, know-how, and resources to do better, it’s just a matter of redirecting resources that are already being spent, to scale up more effective solutions that already exist. A comprehensive national response is long overdue."

In its proposal, the CCR outlines five key pillars that would be part of the National System for Refugee Claimants:

1. Establish Reception Centres:

Establish reception centres in cities with large numbers of claimants to orient arrivals and coordinate services, in collaboration with provincial and municipal governments and civil society.

2. Provide Transitional Housing:

Provide sustained federal funding for short term and transitional housing for refugee claimants, scaling up the successful experiences of civil society, diaspora and community groups, to complement provincial and municipal efforts.

3. Expand Eligibility for Settlement Services:

Make refugee claimants eligible for the support services offered to other newcomers under the Settlement Program run by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

4. Provide Consistent Legal Aid Coverage:

Ensure that adequate legal aid coverage is available for refugee claimants in all parts of the country supported by multi-year funding.

5. Streamline the Application and Determination Process:

Streamline the initial stage of the claims process and eliminate the backlog in the subsequent determination process with small but significant adjustments.

“An overwhelming percentage of refugee claims—three in four in 2023—are ultimately approved, so barring claimants from vital settlement services for which most eventually become eligible and which we know improve short term and long-term outcomes is simply not a good a use of available resources,” says Jenny Jeanes, Vice-President of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “Extending wraparound services to refugee claimants and ensuring they have access to housing and legal counsel will make sure these future Canadians are set up for success.”


For more information, please contact the Canadian Council for Refugees at