21 October 2004

Montreal.  The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) today called on Parliament to solve three overwhelming problems in Canada’s refugee program that are causing unnecessary suffering and injustice to refugees.

·    Delays in private sponsorship of refugees
As highlighted in the recently released CCR report, No Faster Way?, refugees overseas waiting to be resettled in Canada face extraordinarily long processing delays.  Their private sponsors in Canada are becoming demoralized by the long waits, and refugees’ lives are being threatened.  

“…physically and emotionally we are getting weaker and more troubled…”

Letter from sponsored refugee family waiting for processing
The CCR is calling on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to initiate a study of the processing problems in the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

·    Prolonged separation of refugee families
Refugees in Canada frequently wait years before their spouses and children can join them here.  Processing delays endanger family members who are waiting in conflict zones and put stress on family relationships, sometimes leading to breakdown.  The CCR is calling for a simple solution:  allow the spouses and children of refugees in Canada to be brought immediately to Canada to be processed here.

·    Non-implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division
Refugee claimants mistakenly refused protection in Canada by the Immigration and Refugee Board currently have no right of appeal because the government has failed to fulfil its promise to implement the Refugee Appeal Division.  Errors are inherent to any decision-making system; an error for a refugee can mean being deported to torture or death.  Without an appeal, the Canadian refugee system falls short of international standards.  Again the solution called for by the CCR is straightforward: implement the Refugee Appeal Division in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Today, October 21, a CCR delegation will meet with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Members of Parliament in Ottawa.  CCR members in other communities across Canada are raising these issues with their local politicians.  

Backgrounder materials on the three issues can be found on the CCR website at

Catherine Balfour, Communications and Networking Director, (514) 277-7223 ext. 1