Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 9 #4, 11 July 2014

Vol. 6 no. 4, 11 July 2014

In this issue:

  1. Federal Court ruling on refugee health cuts affirms Canadian values

Refugee healthcareThe CCR welcomed the recent Federal Court decision on refugee health care. It concluded that the government’s 2012 cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program jeopardized the health of refugees, and even their lives, in a manner that shocks the conscience of Canadians.

The CCR calls on the government to reinstate the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) as it existed before the cuts.
Justice Mactavish’s ruling that the cuts constitute “cruel and unusual treatment”, as defined by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, rests on the fact that the government intentionally targeted refugees. Cuts to social programs would not normally be considered “treatment”, but in this case the government made the changes “for the express purpose of inflicting predictable and preventable physical and psychological suffering on many of those seeking the protection of Canada.” She highlights the particular cruelty of the changes as they affect children.

The decision also underlines the important principle of non-discrimination, a fundamental Canadian value: people should be treated fairly and equally.

For the CCR’s full statement following the cuts, see:

For additional CCR resources on the impacts of cuts to refugee health care, see:
CCR letter to Deb Matthews, Ontario Minister of Health, concerning IFH cuts, January 2014:

CCR report, Refugee Health Care: Impacts of recent cuts, February 2013:

  1. Responding to the Syrian refugee crisis

Abdurrahman receives medical attention in TurkeyAbdurrahman was taken hostage and tortured in Syria. After his brother in Canada paid a ransom for him, he was left by a river on the Turkish border. A Turkish passerby found him and got him medical assistance. Abdurrahman remains in Turkey, in a precarious situation. His brother is anxious to bring him to safety here, but he can’t be privately sponsored because of current Canadian restrictions on sponsorship of refugees in Turkey.
Abdurrahman’s story is one of several Syrians with family in Canada profiled in a new CCR report. The CCR is calling on the Canadian government to open our doors to Syrian refugees as we have done in past refugee crises.
In a statement published in early July, the CCR called for:

  • A Canadian commitment of 10,000 places over two years, in response to the UNHCR appeal for 100,000 spots for Syrian refugees. These should be Government Assisted Refugees and should be in addition to Canada’s current refugee resettlement commitment.
  • Special measures for Syrians with family in Canada, like Abdurrahman. Temporary Resident Permits, with the possibility of access to permanent residence later, would allow for a response to people still within Syria, who cannot benefit from the government’s refugee resettlement program.

To read the full CCR report and recommendations, including stories of Syrians with family in Canada, go to:

  1. Do one thing for refugees this summer: Ways to keeping Walking with refugees for a stronger Canada

Read a book about refugees this summerFrom 16 to 22 June, more than 15 successful events were organized across the country to “Walk with refugees for a stronger Canada”. They went from a public library in Victoria, BC, through an indoor walk in rainy Rosthern, Saskatchewan, to the launch of a book with refugee voices and followed by a walk to Pier 21 in Halifax!

Check out who walked, how far and more online at:

Don’t yet see your city or your kilometres listed? We’d love to hear how you Walked and raised refugee voices. Send us an email at:

Keep Walking with refugees this summer
The Walk with refugees for a stronger Canada didn’t end in June: it was just the beginning!
Do one thing for refugees this summer: Suggest a book about refugees for your reading group. Planning an outdoor film night? Why not choose a classic film about refugees to spark conversation?
You’ll find book and film recommendations, as well as more activity ideas on the Proud to Protect Refugees website at:
  1. Be there! CCR Summer Working Group meetings, 5-6 September 2014, Montreal

Discussions at CCR Working Group meetingsDo you want to be part of efforts to promote rights for refugees?  Are you interested in hearing the latest on issues affecting refugees and immigrants in Canada?  Looking for an opportunity to share information and strategies with others from across Canada?

End your summer the right(s) way! Come to the CCR Summer Working Group meetings in Montreal 5 and 6 September 2014. 

CCR members and allies are encouraged to attend the Working Group meetings. The meetings are open to anyone interested, however they are closed to media and government. There is no cost to participate and no registration is necessary.

The meeting schedule is:


9:30am - 5pm: Overseas Protection & Sponsorship Working Group meeting


9:30am - 5pm: Inland Protection Working Group meeting
9:30am - 5pm: Immigration and Settlement Working Group meeting

For more information about the Working Group meetings:
  1. Honour your journey by supporting the CCR, like Arben

Edmonton, Alberta - the place Arben now calls homeMeet Arben Popaj. Arben lives in Edmonton and came to Canada in 2004 as a refugee claimant from Albania.
As his journey in Canada began, like many refugees and newcomers, Arben faced personal and work-related challenges.
Arben reflects, “I had a hard time adjusting to Canadian life. Homesickness was one of the key factors, especially when I did not know anyone... Initially, I was underemployed and working minimum wage at a greenhouse. I worked in a tomato field greenhouse.”
In the face of these challenges, Arben pushed forward and in time became the owner of his own painting business in Edmonton. “With this new venture I was able to support myself and my family...Now I feel like I belong to the Canadian society and I feel at home as well.”
Stories like Arben’s are important to share in times like these, when Canada’s reputation as a place where refugees are welcomed and treated fairly is being challenged.
Arben reminds us of the importance of individual journeys. “I am married and I have my two beautiful daughters. My wife and I support them and want to educate them and keep them in a safe environment.”

Arben chose to mark his journey by making a special donation to the CCR, so that refugees today are protected and able to raise their families in a safe environment too.

If you or someone you know would like to mark their journey in the same way, please let us now. The CCR is looking for individuals like Arben, who came to Canada as refugees or immigrants and are now able to give back by making a donation.
If you are interested in making a donation and sharing your story, please contact Simran Chahal at or (514) 277-7223.

You can also visit:

Upcoming Meetings

Youth Action Gathering, Thursday, 21 August - Saturday, 23 August, Toronto

Summer Working Group meetings, Friday, 5 September and Saturday, 6 September 2014, Montreal

Fall Consultation, Thursday, 27 November - Saturday, 29 November, Gatineau