Canadian Council for Refugees


27 April 2005

Honourable Murray Coell
Minister of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services
PO Box 9042
Victoria, BC, V8W 9E2

Dear Minister,

            I am writing on behalf of the Canadian Council for Refugees to express serious concern at the recent developments in the administration of settlement services for newcomers in British Columbia.  We are particularly concerned that refugee claimants appear to be among those most negatively affected by the changes.

            We believe that community-based settlement services play a crucial role in promoting the integration of newcomers, assisting them in becoming full participants in Canadian society and assisting Canadian society in adapting to new members.  These services are particularly important for the less privileged newcomers, who face numerous barriers including language, insecure status, stresses due to past trauma and family separation.  Refugee claimants as a group are among the least privileged, and at the same time they are going through complex legal and administrative processes which few service providers understand or are equipped to advise on.

            It was therefore with dismay that the Canadian Council for Refugees learned of the considerable disruption in the provision of settlement services in BC, as a result of the shift to the Request for Proposal funding method, and in particular of the drastic cuts suffered through this process by the principal organizations in British Columbia with experience and proven competence in offering services to refugee claimants.

            We therefore urge you to review the changes made by your government, with the goal of identifying and addressing any negative impacts on the delivery of settlement services to newcomers, with particular attention to the needs of refugee claimants.  We also urge your government to ensure that adequate funds are allocated to settlement services so that the changes do not continue to leave the gaps in services and supports that have so far been generated.

            The Canadian Council for Refugees is an umbrella organization with over 180 member organizations.   We are committed to the protection of refugees in Canada and around the world and to the settlement of newcomers in Canada.

Yours sincerely,

Nick Summers

cc. Patricia Birkett, A/Director General, Integration Branch, CIC