The Refugee Committee
The Anglican Diocese Of British Columbia
900 Vancouver St. Victoria BC V8V 3V7
Refugee Coordinator: The Rev. Canon Bruce Bryant-Scott 778-533-6171
The Honourable John McCallum, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
365 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1
We are writing to you about the present situation with sponsorship and settlement of refugees in light of the recent discussions between the SAH Association Council and IRCC. The Anglican Diocese of British Columbia is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder working on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, and has been privately settling refugees since the late 1970s.
First of all we applaud the Liberal government for meeting its pre-election pledge to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada in remarkably quick time, and undertaking to land up to 18,000 Privately Sponsored Refugees in 2016.
Unfortunately we note that the pace of processing Blended Visa Office Referral refugees has slackened in recent times. A number of well-organized and funded Refugee Support Constituent Groups who have already invested in settlement costs have been left completely in the dark as to when the refugees will actually arrive. Furthermore, the announcement that the quota and capping system will apply to Syrian non-BVOR refugee applicants, even some in process, is causing further doubts among groups actively supporting those endeavours. These delays and the shifting sands of admissions policy are frustrating for the Constituent Groups and undoubtedly frustrating and frightening for the refugees and their families.
We have been pleased to see that some applications for refugee status in Canada which had under the previous government been languishing in various visa offices, in some cases for up to 6 years, have been acted upon in recent months, and we are thankful for that. However, we are concerned that the system does not fall back into its past practices of long delays which did nothing for the confidence of either the refugees or the Constituent Groups that private sponsorship and settlement was a priority of the Canadian government.
Finally, we believe that the mantra of Canadian refugee policy should involve a clear return to a blending of government and private sponsorship which respects fully the motivations, efforts and energies of citizens committed to this enterprise. This successful model the basis of Canada’s recognition in 1986 as a nation committed to supporting refugees through the bestowing of the Nansen Award by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
On behalf of the many, many generous Canadians helping, and willing to help the refugees, and on behalf of the many, many refugees for whom Canada is the last hope, we thank you for considering this letter, and urge you to continue with the noble and energetic initiative that brought the first 25,000 refugees to our country.
The Reverend Canon D. Bruce Bryant Scott BA MDiv ThM, Refugee Coordinator
Mr. John McLaren LLB LLM LLD, Chair of the Diocesan Refugee Committee
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