Private sponsorship

Refugees and faith survey: Summary report

Summary: 

This report summarizes the responses to a short survey exploring how faith motivates people to respond to refugees and how responding to refugees can promote interfaith understanding. 

Private Sponsorship of Refugees Toolkit

What is the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Toolkit?Private sponsorship of refugees toolkit

The toolkit is a practical web-based resource to provide information about private refugee sponsorship to groups across Canada.

The toolkit includes:

  • Information about program options across the country
  • Information about how to prepare an application for sponsors and refugees
  • Resources for sponsors and refugees (both pre- and post-arrival)
  • Links to other resources
  • Information about national and local organizations offering support to sponsoring groups

This resource is primarily geared towards groups applying to privately sponsor refugees through a Group of 2 to 5 or Non-profit organization (in Quebec), or a Group of 5 or Community sponsor (in the rest of Canada). However, it also includes a lot of information relevant for other types of groups. 

The Toolkit Table of Contents

Overview

Refugee sponsorship basics  / Different program options to sponsor refugees / Finding a refugee match  / Organizations and services

Application for sponsors

For Quebec: Organizations with an umbrella agreement  / Group of 2 to 5  / Non-profit organization

For the rest of Canada: Sponsorship Agreement Holders / Group of 5 / Community Sponsor

Applications for refugees

Application forms for refugees / Who can be included in an application / Refugee eligibility and admissibility

Applications in process

Submitting the file / Processing / Interview / After the interview / Travel to Canada

Other useful information

Transportation loan / Finding help with settlement / Health / Permanent residence cards / Resources for refugee and sponsors / Family reunification / Travel ouside of Canada / Secondary migration and sponsorship breakdown

Connect with the CCR!

The CCR encourages sponsoring groups to become involved and work towards common advocacy goals by: 

To read more about other ways to get involved see here!

Renewing Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

Summary: 

This document gives an overview of the current challenges facing the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.  It is a 4-page document, but you can use the first page by itself.

Format: 

Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program: Proud history, Uncertain future

Summary: 

This document gives an overview of the current challenges facing the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.  It is a 4-page document, but you can use the first page by itself.

A revised version of this document from January 2016 is available at http://ccrweb.ca/en/renewing-private-sponsorship-refugees-program

Important changes in Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

Introduction

Since its beginnings in 1979, Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program has provided protection and a new home to more than 200,000 refugees. Countless Canadians have also benefitted from the program, through the opportunities it offers for personal relationships with people who have survived persecution in various corners of the globe.

Through the years, private sponsors have come to value certain principles that traditionally underlie the program:

  • Additionality – private sponsorship is additional to government assisted refugees. Each year the government makes its commitment, on behalf of Canadians, to resettle a certain number of refugees. Anything that Canadians do through private sponsorship is on top of that commitment. This means that it allows Canadians to offer protection and a permanent home to extra refugees, who would not otherwise have the opportunity.
  • Naming – private sponsors can identify the refugees that they wish to sponsor, assuming they meet all the criteria in Canadian law. This principle allows Canadians to respond to refugees of particular concern to them, whether individuals known to them, or from a specific region they are involved with or groups with whom they wish to be in solidarity. It also allows Canadians to respond to refugees they feel are being forgotten by others.

 The private sponsorship program is undergoing significant changes, which may in the long term have profound impacts on its future shape. While the upcoming changes to the in-Canada refugee determination system are receiving considerable public attention, the changes on the resettlement side are far less well-known. Even those involved in private sponsorship have had little opportunity to weigh up their implications. Nevertheless, the combined effect of various developments seems to challenge the principles of additionality and naming, raising concerns for those who feel that these principles are valuable for refugees and for Canada.

Recent developments

  • Cap on private sponsorship applications at Nairobi mission in 2011

Since 2011 there has been a cap on the number of applications Sponsorship Agreement Holders can submit on behalf of refugees processed at the Nairobi mission. The cap, introduced to address the backlog that had accumulated over many years at Nairobi, severely limits sponsors’ ability to respond to refugees in that region of world (the Nairobi mission serves 19 countries in East and Central Africa).

  • Overall cap on private sponsorship applications starting in 2012, with specific caps on 4 missions

Beginning in 2012, Sponsorship Agreement Holders have faced a global cap on the number of applications for named refugees they can submit. In addition, there are specific, very restrictive caps on Nairobi (reduced further since 2011), Pretoria, Islamabad and Cairo. This further limits the ability of sponsors to respond to refugees they believe are in need, particularly refugees in certain world regions.

  • Group of 5 limits imposed by regulation October 2012

Changes to the regulations made in October 2012 prevent groups that are not Sponsorship Agreement Holders from sponsoring refugees who are not recognized as refugees by the UNHCR or a State.[1] Some of the most vulnerable and marginalized refugees don’t have these papers.

  • Elimination of Source Country Class

The Source Country Class was eliminated in October 2011, meaning that sponsors could no longer apply to resettle someone directly out of their country of origin.[2] The government commented that where appropriate discretionary provisions of the Act (humanitarian and compassionate considerations) could be used instead to resettle individuals.[3] These were the provisions used to bring to Canada some Afghan interpreters whose lives were put at risk because of their support for the Canadian mission.[4] For sponsors, however, discretionary measures are too unpredictable: unless the government has announced special measures, sponsors don’t know what sort of case might be considered deserving.

  • Rise of Minister-led initiatives

While sponsors face the above-mentioned restrictions in responding to refugees they consider priorities, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has recently started to identify particular refugee populations as priorities for resettlement. In some cases, the Minister has used the public policy provisions of the Act to identify groups. Refugees identified by the Minister are given priority in terms of the limited available numbers and processing times. Examples of ministerial priorities are the three groups given $100,000 to do sponsorships in March 2011[5] (at the same time that sponsors were required to reduce their applications to Nairobi), Tibetans in India,[6] and most recently persecuted Christians from Egypt.  The 2013 target numbers for the first time reflect the public policy categories.[7] No one has questioned the groups identified, who are all certainly deserving, but the identification of the groups is done without consultation, and raises concerns about the politicization of a humanitarian and human rights program.

  • Cuts to Interim Federal Health Program

In June 2012, the government introduced drastic cuts to the Interim Federal Health (IFH) Program, affecting privately sponsored refugees.[8] These changes made private sponsors liable for extra health costs, such as prosthetics, medications and dental care. Since private sponsors can’t know in advance what health calamities might afflict the refugees they sponsor during the period for which they are responsible (usually the first year after arrival in Canada), sponsors worry that they might find themselves with bills of thousands of dollars. Some privately sponsored refugees – refugees identified by the government, rather than by sponsors – continue however to be eligible for full IFH coverage.

  • Future directions in Resettlement

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is exploring a reorientation of the resettlement program towards a concentration on a limited number of refugee populations around the world. CIC describes this as follows:

Increased population-specific efforts within the resettlement program, rather than the current global approach, will allow the Department and sponsors to better prepare population-specific approaches for settlement. It will also ensure that overseas processing resources can be allocated in the best manner to ensure fast processing times and reduction of application inventories.[9]

While these plans primarily relate to government-assisted refugees, there are concerns that privately sponsored refugees will also be affected. Government resources at visa offices are likely to be concentrated in areas identified as priority by the government, limiting sponsors’ ability to respond to refugees in other regions.

  • Blended Visa-office-referred (VOR) program starting in 2013

Starting in 2013, the government is inviting private sponsors to participate in a “blended” program, meaning that the government and private sponsors will each pay part of the support costs for the refugees resettled. The refugees will be selected by the government (which is why they are called “visa-office-referred”). Many sponsors are attracted to this opportunity because (a) there is fast processing for visa-office referred cases, unlike named cases which routinely take years to process, (b) they are looking for refugees to sponsor, since the overall and mission-specific caps on named sponsorships leave many groups with no other opportunity to sponsor, (c) refugees resettled through this blended program are fully covered by IFH, so sponsors don’t have to worry about unanticipated medical costs.

Nevertheless, some sponsors are hesitant because the program does not respect the principle of additionality. It is understood that part of the government’s motivation for this program lies in its desire to save money, in the context of deficit-reduction, while meeting the government’s commitment to increase the number of refugees resettled by 2,500.[10] Originally, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration had announced that this increase would be met by bringing in 500 more government-assisted refugees (at government expense) and 2,000 more privately sponsored refugees. Now, the government is instead asking the private sponsors to take on part or all of the expenses for the 500 government-assisted refugees, as well as increasing by 2,000 annually the refugees fully funded by private sponsors.

Starting at 200-300 refugees in 2013[11], the blended program is expected to increase in subsequent years. The CIC Departmental Performance Report says:

CIC plans increase the number of PSRs [Privately Sponsored Refugees] to be resettled in a year by 1,000, which will replace an equivalent number of government-assisted refugees. Over the coming year, the Department will work with sponsors to identify populations of interest that may be referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as PSRs in 2013.[12]

Sponsors are thus concerned that their efforts through the blended program are subsidizing government contributions, rather than adding to the overall number of refugees that can find a home in Canada.

There are also concerns about the availability of sponsors to take on the blended sponsorships, particularly in subsequent years when the annual target is 1,000 refugees. Canadians have a range of reasons for getting involved in sponsorship, but often a sense of personal connection with a particular region or individual is key (which is why named sponsorships are so important). It is not so clear how broad the motivation is to resettle refugees based on government priorities, particularly if there is a perception that sponsors are being asked to fill in the gap created by government cutbacks.

However, if private sponsors are unable to meet the targets set by government for blended sponsorships, it has been suggested that the places will go unfilled. Private sponsors are thus put in the unenviable position of needing to work hard to ensure that refugees don’t end up deprived of the opportunity for safety and a new life in Canada. Far from adding to the government’s numbers of refugees resettled, private sponsors seem to be responsible for ensuring that the government’s numbers are not reduced!

Overall concerns

  • We are moving towards a more government-led resettlement program, with less opportunity for private sponsors, as representatives of civil society, to respond to refugees that they believe deserve attention.
  • Canada’s response to refugees is becoming less global and more targeted. There are certainly advantages to focussing on particular populations (such as efficiency of processing and advantages in settling groups). However, a loss in capacity to respond to refugees globally leaves some marginalized refugees without a solution. It also deters Canadians interested in particular groups from sponsoring, if they cannot resettle those groups. Canada’s resettlement program is also more vulnerable to developments that hamper the resettlement of a targeted group – this has been the experience recently when civil conflict in Syria blocked processing of Iraqi refugees, one of Canada’s major priorities.
  • Canada’s response risks becoming more politicized, with specific programs increasingly initiated by the Minister, without a transparent process of consultation.  Politicization compromises the human rights and humanitarian basis of the program.
  • The groups involved in private sponsorship are likely to change, without any guarantee that overall capacity will be maintained or increased. Groups whose motivation is tied to naming and additionality may withdraw from the program. Other groups are being engaged, including groups that are interested in the particular populations that are current government priorities. Questions are being asked, however, about the long-term capacity of a private sponsorship community to mobilize resources to respond to primarily government-identified priorities.
  • The government’s highly negative discourse about refugees is having a damaging effect on public support for refugees, making it more difficult to mobilize groups for sponsorship.

2. http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2011/2011-10-26/html/sor-dors222-eng.html. The Source Country Class only applied in countries specifically listed for this purpose by the government. The CCR expressed concerns about the proposed elimination of the Source Country Class: http://ccrweb.ca/en/comments-proposed-elimination-source-country-class

3. Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, s. 25, s. 25.1 and s. 25.2.

9. Citizenship and Immigration Canada,  Departmental Performance Report, For the period ending March 31, 2012, http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/publications/dpr/2012/dpr.asp#strategic2-5

10. “Over the next two years, the Government of Canada would be able to increase the number of refugees resettled from abroad by 2,500. The Government-Assisted Refugees Program, under which the UNHCR refers refugees to Canada for resettlement, would be expanded by 500 refugees. In addition, a further 2,000 resettlement places would be added to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. These increases would bring the number of refugees resettled annually to as many as 14,500.” http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/backgrounders/2010/2010-03-29.asp.  This promise was restated in December 2011, at the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Refugee Convention in Geneva. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/speeches/2011/2011-12-07.asp. There is no specific timeframe mentioned for achieving the 20% increase. Since the March 2010 promise was tied to Refugee Reform, the start date may have been pushed back because of government delays in implementing Refugee Reform.

12. Citizenship and Immigration Canada,  Departmental Performance Report, For the period ending March 31, 2012, http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/publications/dpr/2012/dpr.asp#strategic2-5

 

 

Comments on notice of intent – changes to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

Summary: 

Comments made in response to the notice published by Citizenship and Immigration Canada in the Canada Gazette, Part I, Vol. 145, No. 50, on December 10, 2011. The notice invited comments on a proposed regulatory amendment that will affect the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

Eritrean refugees awaiting Federal Court decision suffer acute hardship in Cairo: Backgrounder

5 April 2011

Starting in September 2009, concerns were raised about refusals of Eritrean refugee applicants at Canada’s visa office in Cairo. Decisions suggested an inadequate understanding of how to apply the refugee definition.  Applicants were rejected as not credible on extremely flimsy grounds. There was a lack of sensitivity to survivors of torture and sexual assault.

Approximately 40 such cases are currently before the Federal Court. Three lead cases from the group will be argued April 6-7, 2011.

Seventeen Eritreans refused by Canada were recently interviewed in Cairo about their lives.

Of those interviewed:

  • 14 said they had survived torture. As refugees in Cairo, they do not have access to adequate treatment.
  • At least 11 are unemployed or have no regular source of income. Of those that do work, some are supporting several family members.
  • All 17 reported that they have suffered verbal and/or physical harassment in the street due to their skin colour.
  • 12 are single woman with no male protection and therefore particularly vulnerable to sexual and gender based violence. 4 are single heads of families.

The following is a summary of the interview of one of the lead cases being argued before the Federal Court.

Tsegeroman, aged 47

The only type of work available in Egypt for refugees is work in the informal sector and generally for women that means domestic work. I am 47 years old and I have constant trouble finding work because employers never select me, employers always demand to look at the passport before hiring and I am never selected as they always choose younger women.

Not being able to provide for myself is a great source of anxiety and frustration. I am always really worried and this worsens my stomach problem which requires treatment, so I am morally very down.

Since as refugees in Egypt, we cannot really integrate or have the right to work officially or access any services like other people in the country, I applied for sponsorship but even that did not work. I left my country because of my religion; for the last 25 years I have been Pentecostal, so I became very active member of  my Church and eventually I had many responsibilities in the Church. First thing the security were monitoring me and I was no longer able to practice my religion and I was afraid of getting detained and tortured like many other Pentecostals in Eritrea, so I left. I cannot return home because I might be killed for my faith and I cannot stay in Egypt because there is no hope of ever living normally.

I started the process for the Canadian sponsorship in the beginning of 2008 and I am still waiting, I am scared and I am losing hope.

Another applicant described his situation as follows:

Tsegay, aged 24

I fled my country because of my religious beliefs and went to Sudan and stayed for about 9 and 10 months. But Sudan was not safe for Eritrean refugees so because there were many round ups deporting refugees back to Eritrea, I was afraid so I fled to Egypt hoping to find security.

I started the sponsorship process at the end of 2007 and had to wait two years for my interview at the embassy. When I found out that I was rejected, I was heartbroken. The result of that decision is the extension of my stay in a country where I have not much security, no real legal status or future to work for ...

Since I arrived in Cairo in March 2007, I have only been able to find work for 4 months in 2010, but the rest of the time I have had to depend on the charity of my [private] sponsor [in Canada] and relatives.

As a refugee it is very difficult to live in Cairo, there is not much of a support system; there is not much work in Egypt for men, most of the work available is domestic work and employers prefer women.

During the demonstrations, being in Cairo confined in a house without security was very scary; there were looters in the first days of the demonstrations and you could see people on the street with knives.

As a refugee, I had no protection from looters or anyone who would hurt me. Egypt is even more unsafe now because we are in a transitional phase and I do not know what to expect, there is no security. The current authorities are not trained to recognize the UNHCR documents. I was walking in the street and was stopped for an identification check at a barricade, I showed my UNHCR card but I was asked to show my passports instead which I could not since I am a refugee. I was then taken with two other refugees and we were kept in custody of the army for 8 hours. We were handcuffed and left standing on the street as though we were thieves or criminals and people passing started taking pictures of us.

I am in constant waiting and fear, not knowing what will happen next or where my life is headed.

The following are some of the major themes that emerge from the interviews.

  • Economic problems

I work in Cairo but the conditions are very difficult. I work as a cleaner because there are no other options here in Egypt. I work 6 days and my employer is very hard person but I cannot complain to anyone.  The pay is barely enough to cover my expenses and I also support three people in Eritrea who are counting on me. (Hiwet, 44)

I have health problems that prevent me from doing too much physical work yet my employer is not understanding of my situation. Instead, I am only given one day off a week and work from 6 am to 2 am sometimes, it’s a stay-in job so my daily working hours depend on when my employers go to sleep. I have two brothers in a refugee camp in Ethiopia and the rest of my family, my mother, my father and my sister are in Eritrea. I have to support these five people from here. (Azeb, 32)

It is extremely stressful to care for my children with no security of a regular income and no prospect of ever having one. I am widow and have no other support than myself. (Jimieya, 36)

I have been a single mother for one year and I am not able to work here in Egypt to provide for my son. I am dependant on financial assistance from my friends but it is not secure or sustainable, I don't know if they will continue to help me and I do not know what to do. (Teberh, 32)

  • Routine racial discrimination, in some cases involving assault

In Cairo, I feel very insecure as I am continuously confronted to harassment in the street because of my skin colour. (Mussie, 27)

There is harassment everywhere, a friend of mine was on her way to my house and she was severely beaten on the street by Egyptians out of the blue. This makes me very afraid. (Teberh, 32)

Egyptians beat my children on their way back from school and they insult them because of their skin color - this has happened several times - it has even reached blood once and now they are very scared to go to school alone. My children are 11 and 12 ... I am an adult who has adapted to being a refugee but I am really worried about my children and their long term reaction to living in such a hostile environment. (Jimieya, 36)

  • Sexual harassment and violence

My two daughters cannot walk freely because of the sexual harassment in the street. (Simret, 37)

Because I am a woman, when I go out from home there is harassment, and on my way back as well, I live in a poor neighborhood, we took a tuk-tuk to return home, the driver of the tuk-tuk took us to a secluded area and the he took out a knife and threatened us with it to kiss him. We jumped off the tuk-tuk and ran as fast as we could; we were very scared. (Saliem, 27)

  • Lack of access to health care

 I have a problem in my chest which is not being treated adequately and in turn it affects my right arm and disables me from working as much as I need to. (Jimieya, 36)

  • Arrest and harassment by authorities, and limited legal rights

Once, when I was sitting in a coffee shop, about six or seven Egyptian men acting as members of the security force stopped their car right in front and then came to me and three other Eritreans, slapped us and ordered us to get into the car. We were afraid because our legal statuses had not been finalized yet, so they took us to some distance and in the car they beat us and robbed us from our money and phones then they threw us on the street at a distance.  (Mussie, 27)

No matter what happens to me, there is no authority I can turn to and if I am caught in the street I could be detained and deported to Eritrea where I was unjustly punished and tortured.  (Hiwet, 44)

The UNHCR refugee card does not allow me to apply for jobs, access further education or move around with freedom; being a refugee in Cairo is like being trapped, you have no ability to travel so you cannot go anywhere, but you cannot do anything here because you have no real legal documentation. (Tedros, 32)

I am very anxious, there is no hope for me here without access to education or employment, I don't have any rights to speak for myself or about the things that I have to face here, so I am really desperate and hopeless, always living in fear and anxiety. It's very hard to live like this. (Mussie, 27)

  • Increased vulnerability since the unrest in Egypt

During the protests in Egypt last January, I felt that I am not secure, because everything was closed, the UN and every humanitarian organization in the country so we all felt helpless and abandoned. All nations sent planes to take their citizens but there was nobody to care for the refugees, so this was very distressing.  We locked ourselves up at home and just waited to see what would happen next.  None of us knew what would happen, whether someone would try and break in to rob us, beat us, take us to prison and accuse us of crimes we had not committed, anything was possible because we had absolutely no institution or body to protect us. So all I could do was just wait for the next thing to happen, no matter how bad, with no ability to avoid or stop it, it was terrifying to live through this. I will never forget it. (Tedros, 32)

Now I am even more scared because there is no stability in Egypt, who knows what will happen here and what will happen to us refugees then. (Saliem, 27)

Now the army is running Egypt, and the army has no background on refugees or refugee documentation issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Cairo, which puts me at a daily risk of being arbitrarily arrested and detained. This just adds more to the fear and pressure we already suffer. (Mussie, 27)

  • Lack of hope for the future

Here in Cairo I am not really living, I am just waiting. (Azeb, 32)

The only hope that I had was the Canadian sponsorship and the hope of going to Canada, but then I was rejected. I am trying to keep courage by going to Church, but I became even more stressed when I got pregnant, with no support and one more person to look after. (Teberh, 32)  

I could not understand why I had gone through detention and torture in my country only to come to Egypt to find hardship and rejection too. (Tedros, 32)

Code of ethics for groups involved in the private sponsorship of refugees

Note: the following text is a tool for use by groups involved in the private sponsorship of refugees, who want to adopt a code of ethics.  It may be useful to Sponsorship Agreement Holders, Constituent Groups, Groups of Five and others.  Each group will want to adapt the text to suit its own mission and reality.  In particular, the choice of sub-points under the principles will depend on how the group functions.

PREAMBLE

  • [Our organization] sponsors refugees because [fill in what motivates your organization: religious call to help others or seek justice?  Community obligations to respond to others’ needs?]
  • All refugees have a right to protection and a durable solution.  Through sponsorship, we contribute to some refugees securing these rights in Canada, in addition to those refugees resettled by the government.
  • Consistent with the purpose of sponsorship which is to fulfill refugees’ rights, we commit to respect and promote the dignity and human rights of refugees, particularly those we sponsor.
  • Although we can only sponsor a small number of refugees in need of resettlement, we will respect the principle of non-discrimination in selecting whom we sponsor.
  • Recognizing that there is an inherent power imbalance in the relationship between sponsors and sponsored persons, we commit to act in ways that minimize the risk of oppression in the relationship.
  • We will seek to promote gender equity, mindful of the need for sensitivity in the cross-cultural setting and in the context of the unequal relationship between sponsors and those sponsored.
  • We commit to respect our obligations, including our legal obligations, to protect the rights of sponsored children and other sponsored persons with particular vulnerabilities.   

 

PRINCIPLES

We commit to respecting the following ethical principles in our sponsorship work:

  1. Right to self determination. We will respect and support the right of those sponsored to make their own decisions about their lives.

[Select, amend or add sub-points as appropriate to your group:]

  • We will inform those sponsored of their right to make their own decisions.
  • We will provide those sponsored with relevant information so that they can make informed choices.
  • We will support those sponsored in managing their own budgets.
  • We will support those sponsored in progressively gaining confidence in making their own decisions as they familiarize themselves with Canadian society.
  • We will refrain from making judgments about choices made by the persons we sponsor.
  • We will respect the choices of those sponsored about how they wish to be described (including whether they wish to be identified as “refugees”).
  • We will respect the right of those sponsored to make decisions regarding questions of faith and religious affiliation.
  1. Right to privacy.  We will respect the right of those sponsored to privacy.

[Select, amend or add sub-points as appropriate to your group:]

  • We will inform those sponsored of their right to privacy.
  • We will share personal information as needed, but no further.
  • We will consult sponsored persons before publishing information about them.
  • We will require sponsors to sign an undertaking to respect our organization’s policy on privacy requirements.
  • We will require interpreters to sign a confidentiality agreement, and we will inform those sponsored of the interpreters’ role and duty to respect privacy.
  • We will safeguard documentation containing personal information.
  • We will respect the privacy of sponsored persons’ homes.
  • We will take special care to protect the right to privacy of sponsored children in the school setting.
  1. Competence.  We will respect our duty to act competently.

[Select, amend or add sub-points as appropriate to your group:]

  • We will acquire appropriate cultural and diversity understanding.
  • We will screen, train and supervise volunteers.
  • We will assess potential sponsors/constituent groups according to criteria established by our organization.
  • We will provide sponsored persons with accurate information on their rights, services available to them, etc.
  • We will recognize our own limits and make appropriate referrals.
  • We will accept a duty of care to ensure that the basic needs of sponsored persons are met, including where appropriate mentoring on financial management.
  1. Transparency.  We will be transparent in our services, towards those seeking sponsorship, those sponsored and the public.

[Select, amend or add sub-points as appropriate to your group:]

  • We will provide clear and transparent information about how we make decisions on who to sponsor.
  • We will provide to sponsored persons full information about all matters that concern them.
  • We will address complaints through an established complaints mechanism involving a third party.
  • We will inform those sponsored of our complaints mechanism. 
  • We will strive to be open and to make sure information and expectations are clear.
  1. Equity.  We will strive to make our relationships as equitable as possible, by being aware of power dynamics and guarding against risks of abuse of power

 [Select, amend or add sub-points as appropriate to your group:]

  • We will select refugees for sponsorship based on equitable principles.
  • We will make no expectations of those we sponsor other than those essential for the functioning of the sponsorship.
  • We will inform the sponsored persons of the limits of those expectations and that they are not required to do more (bearing in mind that sometimes sponsored persons may perceive pressures to do some things even when there is no such intention).
  • We will avoid assumptions based on gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, religion, culture, ethnicity or nationality. 
  • We will establish appropriate boundaries in personal relationships.
  • We will work to develop trust in relationships.
  1. Financial integrity.  We will maintain integrity in financial and business relationships and avoid actual or perceived conflicts of interest.

[Select, amend or add sub-points as appropriate to your group:]

  • We will not accept gifts that are more than token.
  • We will develop and follow a protocol for sharing financial information.
  • We will declare potential conflicts of interest to each other and seek solutions to minimize the risk (e.g. involving a third party if a sponsor offers to hire a sponsored person).
  • We will require sponsors to sign an undertaking to respect our organization’s policy on conflicts of interest.
  • We will strive to ensure that sponsored persons do not feel that they are receiving charity from or beholden to individuals.
  1. Concluding a sponsorship. We will work to ensure a satisfactory conclusion to the sponsorship for all concerned.

[Select, amend or add sub-points as appropriate to your group:]

  • We will prepare sponsored persons for the end of the sponsorship and attempt to address any anxieties in advance.
  • We will ensure that sponsored persons are aware of their rights and entitlements, including their entitlement to government benefits and services.
  • We will acknowledge the end of a sponsorship and recognize those who contributed to it.
  • We will have a clear process for deciding how to re-direct funds remaining at the end of a sponsorship.

 

Adopted in principle by the Working Group on Overseas Protection and Sponsorship
February 2010

Comments on Private Sponsorship of Refugees evaluation

Summary: 

Document prepared jointly with the elected Sponsorship Agreement Holder representatives

Code of ethics

The Code of Ethics is a tool for use by groups involved in the private sponsorship of refugees who want to adopt a code of ethics. Each group can adapt the text to suit its own mission and reality. In particular, the choice of sub-points under the principles will depend on how the group functions. Consult Code of Ethics for the private sponsorship of refugees: Toolkit to learn more about how to use the code.

PREAMBLE

  • [Our group] sponsors refugees because [fill in what motivates your group: religious call to help others or seek justice? Community obligations to respond to others’ needs?]
  • All refugees have a right to protection and a durable solution. Through sponsorship, we contribute to some refugees being safe and having a permanent home in Canada, in addition to those refugees resettled by the government.
  • In our sponsorship activities, we commit to respect and promote the dignity and human rights of refugees.
  • Although we can only sponsor a small number of refugees in need of resettlement, we will respect the principle of non-discrimination in selecting whom we sponsor (for example, not discriminating on the basis of religion, race or sexual orientation).
  • Recognizing that there is an inherent power imbalance in the relationship between sponsors and sponsored persons, we commit to act in ways that minimize the risk of oppression in the relationship.
  • We will seek to promote gender equity and to prevent gender-based violence, mindful of the need for sensitivity in the cross-cultural setting and in the context of the unequal relationship between sponsors and those sponsored.
  • We will strive to be sensitive to diversity. We will accept and welcome differences based on – but not limited to – race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs and personal histories.
  • We will strive to understand how oppression happens within our society and will make every effort to ensure that we do not oppress anyone in our sponsorship activities.
  • We commit to respect our obligations, including our legal obligations, to protect the rights of sponsored children and other sponsored persons with particular vulnerabilities (for example, as a result of health or disability).
  • We believe that sponsorship creates personal relationships that could enrich the lives of all involved. We commit to make the relationships as warm and as welcoming as we can.   
 

PRINCIPLES

We commit to respecting the following ethical principles in our sponsorship work:

  1. Right to self determination. We will respect and support the right of those sponsored to make their own decisions about their lives.
  • We will inform those sponsored of their right to make their own decisions.
  • We will provide those sponsored with relevant information so that they can make informed choices.
  • We will support those sponsored in managing their own budgets.
  • We will support those sponsored in progressively gaining confidence in making their own decisions as they familiarize themselves with Canadian society.
  • We will not make judgments about choices made by the persons we sponsor.
  • We will respect the right of those sponsored to make decisions regarding questions of faith and religious affiliation.
  • We will not require those sponsored to start working or volunteering before they are ready.
  • We will not use possessive language in relation to sponsored persons (in other words, language that suggests that they “belong” to us, such as calling them “our refugees.”)
  • We will respect the choices of those sponsored about how they wish to be described and identified (including whether they wish to be identified as “refugees” and their chosen gender identity and pronouns).
  1. Right to privacy.  We will respect the right of those sponsored to privacy.
  • We will inform those sponsored of their right to privacy.
  • We will keep the personal information of those sponsored private, and will only share information after permission is granted and only with the people that we are given to permission to share this information with.
  • We will respect the sponsored persons’ right to privacy about their past, including their experiences of persecution, flight and exile, and follow their lead on what, if anything, they want to share.
  • We will obtain explicit informed consent from sponsored persons before publishing information about them or photos of them in any form, including in emails, social media and newsletters. We will recognize that due to the power imbalance sponsored persons may not be confortable saying “no” and we will therefore give careful attention to ensuring that consent is truly being voluntarily provided.
  • We will require sponsors to sign an undertaking to respect our organization’s policy on privacy requirements.
  • We will require interpreters to sign a confidentiality agreement if they are not already bound by professional standards, and we will inform those sponsored of the interpreters’ role and duty to respect privacy.
  • We will make sure documents containing personal information are kept safe and private, and are either handed over to those being sponsored or destroyed at the end of the sponsorship.
  • We will respect the privacy of sponsored persons’ homes.
  • We will act as advocates for the right to privacy of those sponsored.
  1. Financial integrity.  We will maintain integrity in financial and business relationships and avoid actual or perceived conflicts of interest.
  • We will not accept gifts that are more than token (in other words, only gifts of very small financial value).
  • We will develop and follow a protocol for sharing financial information between sponsors and those being sponsored.
  • We will declare potential conflicts of interest to each other and seek solutions to minimize the risk (e.g. involving a third party if a sponsor offers to hire a sponsored person).
  • We will require sponsors to sign an undertaking to respect our organization’s policy on conflicts of interest.
  • We will strive to ensure that sponsored persons do not feel that they are receiving charity from or owe anything to individuals who contribute to the sponsorship.
  1. Competence.  We will respect our duty to act competently.
  • We will acquire appropriate cultural and diversity understanding.
  • We will screen, train and supervise volunteers.
  • We will request a criminal record check for those working with vulnerable individuals.
  • We will assess potential sponsors/constituent groups according to criteria established by our organization.
  • We will inform sponsored persons of all parties that sponsored them, including any Sponsorship Agreement Holder or other organization or person that may be involved in the sponsorship.
  • We will provide sponsored persons with accurate information on their rights, services available to them, etc.
  • We will recognize our own limitations and make appropriate referrals.
  • We will ensure that the basic needs of sponsored persons are met, in accordance with the obligations set out in the Undertaking to Sponsor, and we understand that this may include mentoring on financial management.
  • We will work to ensure that sponsored persons understand us, and we will aim to provide information and services in the sponsored persons’ own language.
  1. Transparency.  We will be transparent in our services, towards those seeking sponsorship, those sponsored and the public.
  • We will provide clear and transparent information about how we make decisions on who to sponsor.
  • We will provide sponsored persons with full information about all matters that concern them.
  • We will address complaints through an established complaints mechanism involving a third party.
  • We will strive to be open and to make sure information and expectations are clear.
  1. Expectations. We will refrain from having unrealistic expectations of the persons we are sponsoring.
  • We will attempt to acknowledge and manage our expectations of those we sponsor and restrict our expectations to those essential for the functioning of the sponsorship.
  • We will inform the sponsored persons of the limits of those expectations and that they are not required to do more (bearing in mind that sometimes sponsored persons may perceive pressures to do some things even when there is no such intention).
  • We will not expect or ask those sponsored to do anything for us “in return,” such as performing domestic services, running errands, volunteering for our organization, etc.
  • We will not expect sponsored persons to follow any particular cultural or religious norms or practices, or to associate with others based on ethnicity, national origin or religion/faith.
  • We will remember that sponsored persons may have their own expectations, and we will strive to understand their expectations and sensitively discuss any unrealistic expectations that they may have.
  1. Equity. We will strive to make our relationships as equitable as possible, by being aware of power dynamics and guarding against risks of abuse of power.
  • We will select who to sponsor based on equitable principles.
  • We will avoid assumptions based on gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, ability, religion, culture, race, ethnicity or nationality. 
  • We will work to develop trust in relationships.
  • We will inform sponsored persons of the colonial history of Canada, including the treaty system and the current struggles of Indigenous Peoples across this country.
  1. Conduct. We will act appropriately, put measures in place to protect sponsored persons, and act seriously and swiftly where there is an allegation or evidence of abuse or exploitation perpetrated by a sponsor.
  • We will establish appropriate boundaries with sponsored persons.
  • We will be attentive to sponsored persons’ attitudes to physical contact and avoid any physical contact that might make them feel uncomfortable.
  • We will not engage in any behaviour towards the sponsored persons that we believe may not be welcomed.
  • We will make every effort to make sponsored persons feel safe by listening attentively to any concerns and by letting the sponsored persons choose where, when and with whom to meet.
  • We will not abuse our position of power by implying, requesting, or forcing sponsored persons to render services, such as those of a sexual nature.
  • We will not contact or meet with sponsored persons if we are inebriated or under the influence of illegal drugs.
  • We will take allegations of abuse seriously, and act quickly and appropriately in accordance with our accountability mechanisms and prevailing laws.
  • We will support a sponsored person to report cases of illegal acts to appropriate authorities if they wish to do so.
  1. Accountability. We will be accountable to the sponsored persons and to each other for respecting our obligations as sponsors and under this Code of Ethics.
  • We will have a plan in place to resolve differences between the sponsored persons and sponsors, as well as between sponsors, including a protocol for handling complaints with an option of involving a third party.
  • We will treat all complaints confidentially and will only share information with the informed consent of the person making the complaint, and only with the people designated in our protocol and persons involved in the complaint.
  • We will inform the sponsored persons about the protocol and ensure they know how they can raise an issue or make a complaint (including to the third party), what the protocol is, that complaints will be treated confidentially and that they will not suffer negative consequences for making a complaint.
  • We will make sure that each individual sponsored person is able to make a complaint without the knowledge of the other sponsored persons.
  1. Concluding a sponsorship. We will work to ensure a satisfactory conclusion to the sponsorship for all concerned.
  • We understand that self-sufficiency can take longer than the sponsorship period, and we will not measure the success of the sponsorship solely on the ability of the sponsored persons to be self-sufficient by the end of the sponsorship period.
  • We will prepare sponsored persons for the end of the sponsorship and attempt to address any anxieties in advance.
  • We will ensure that sponsored persons are aware of their rights and entitlements, including their entitlement to government benefits and services.
  • We will have a clear process for deciding how to re-direct funds remaining at the end of a sponsorship.

 

Revised September 2020