Letter to the Honourable Chris Alexander Regarding UNHCR Special Appeal for Syrian Refugee Resettlement Spaces

June 4, 2014

The Honourable Chris Alexander, P.C., M.P.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
365 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1

Dear Minister Alexander,

Re: UNHCR Special Appeal for Syrian Refugee Resettlement Spaces.

We are writing to propose a response by the Government of Canada to the recent UNHCR special refugee resettlement appeal for Syrians. We would like to applaud the Government of Canada’s response to date of over $630 million in humanitarian, development and security assistance in response to the Syria crisis.

Over 2 million Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries in search of safety, 1 million of whom are children since the current Syrian crisis erupted in 2011. With the recent UNHCR special appeal on resettlement spaces, we believe, building on Canada’s humanitarian refugee resettlement tradition that we should step forward to offer the UNHCR a minimum of 10,000 resettlement spaces or 10% of the current appeal over the next two years. This new commitment would build upon Canada’s continued strong record of welcoming refugees, supporting resettlement and integration and having more positive outcomes than found in other countries. A commitment of at least 10% of this current special appeal would have a significant impact not only to the UNHCR but also to those receiving countries in the region who have opened their doors to hundreds of thousands of Syrians.

We propose that these 10,000 resettlement spaces be over and above current refugee resettlement targets for both government assisted refugees and privately sponsored refugees as there continues to be an urgent need in other world regions. The existing infrastructure of Resettlement Assistance Service Providing Organizations (RAP SPO’s) across Canada is ready to respond to this special UNHCR appeal. In consultation with the Council of the Canadian National Sponsorship Agreement Association representing 76 members they have informed us that they are not in a position at this time to articulate a new proposed target to their members. However, they will be writing to you separately to propose some suggestions that could lead to additional privately sponsored Syrians, over and above their current commitments. As a result, we would like to propose that the 10,000 additional resettlement spaces be considered through the government assisted refugee program. From the proposed 10,000 additional GAR spaces we propose that CIC use the current provincial allocation model as outlined in the table attached to this letter. We believe this proposed allocation model provides the best chance for successfully reaching our proposed commitment to this special appeal. We also suggest that as a matter of practice that Syrian resettled refugees, as and when possible, be resettled as intact extended family units similar to the recent Bhutanese refugee resettlement scheme out of Nepal. Lastly, as a practical way to better prepare civil society to this new refugee resettlement population, we would like to suggest that CIC provide funding immediately to an international organization like the International Organization of Migration (IOM) for the purpose of undertaking, on behalf of all states, a population profile, including health profile of Syrians that will likely be resettled in order to better prepare for their eventual arrival in communities across Canada, all with the underlying goal of achieving better outcomes.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you wish to consult on any of the suggestions outlined above.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Chris Friesen,

Chair, CISSA-ACSEI on behalf of the following RAP SPO’s

 

ATLANTIC REGION

Association for New Canadians – St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
Multicultural Association for Fredericton – Fredericton, New Brunswick
YM/YWCA – Saint John, New Brunswick
Multicultural Association for the Greater Moncton Area – Moncton, New Brunswick
P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada – Charlottetown, P.E.I.
Immigrant Settlement & Integration Services – Halifax, Nova Scotia

ONTARIO REGION:

Catholic Immigration Centre – Ottawa, Ontario
Immigrant Reception & Information Services (IRIS) Malton Neighborhood Services – Mississauga, Ontario
COSTI Immigrant Services & Reception Centre – Toronto, Ontario
London Cross Cultural Learner Centre – London, Ontario
Kitchener – Waterloo Reception House – Kitchener, Ontario
Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County – Windsor, Ontario

PRAIRIES REGION:

Regina Open Door Society – Regina, Saskatchewan
Saskatoon Open Door Society – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Global Gathering Place – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
YWCA – Prince Albert – Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Moose Jaw Multicultural Council – Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council Inc. – Winnipeg, Manitoba
La Société Franco-Manitobaine/ Accueil Francophone – Winnipeg, Manitoba
Calgary Catholic Immigration Society – Calgary, Alberta
Catholic Social Services – Edmonton, Alberta
Catholic Social Services – Red Deer, Alberta
Saamis Immigration Services Association – Medicine Hat, Alberta
Lethbridge Family Services & Immigrant Services – Lethbridge, Alberta

BC REGION:

Immigrant Services Society (ISSofBC) – Vancouver, British Columbia
Community Airport Newcomer’s Network (C.A.N.N.), SUCCESS, Vancouver, British Columbia

QUÉBEC REGION:

Centre multiethnique du Québec – Québec, Québec
Service d’accueil des nouveaux arrivants (SANA) – Trois-Rivières, Québec
Comité d’accueil international des Bois-Francs – Victoriaville, Québec
Regroupement interculturel de Drummond (RID) – Drummondville, Québec
Service d’aide aux néo-Canadiens (SANC) – Sherbrooke, Québec
Centre social d’aide aux immigrants (CSAI) – Montréal, Québec
Accueil parrainage Outaouais, Gatineau – Québec
Carrefour d’intercultures de Laval, Laval – Québec
Comité régional d’éducation pour le développement international de Lanaudière (CRÉDIL) – Joliette, Québec
Centre d’orientation et de formation favorisant les relations ethniques traditionnelles (C.O.F.F.R.E.T) – Saint-Jérôme, Québec
Maison de la famille des Maskoutains – Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec
Maison internationale de la Rive-Sud (MIRS) – Brossard, Québec
Solidarité ethnique régionale de la Yamaska (SERY) – Granby, Québec

 

Cc: Brian Dyck, Chair, Canadian National Sponsorship Agreement Association

The Honorable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

The Honourable Erna Braun, Minister of Labour and Immigration, Manitoba

The Honourable Michael Coteau, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Ontario

The Honourable Kathleen Weil, Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness, Québec

The Honourable Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, Minister Responsible for Labour, British Columbia

The Honourable Thomas Lukaszuk, Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, Minister of Education, Political Minister for Edmonton, Minister of Employment and Immigration and parliamentary assistant for Municipal Affairs, Alberta

The Honourable Bill Boyd, Minister of the Economy, Minister Responsible for the Global Transportation Hub Authority, Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Power Corporation, Saskatchewan

The Honourable Jody Carr, Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, New Brunswick

The Honourable Allen F. Roach, Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning, Prince Edward Island

The Honourable Kevin O’Brien, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, Minister Responsible for the Status of Persons with Disabilities, and Minister Responsible for the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing , Newfoundland and Labrador

The Honourable Lena Metlege Diab, Minister of Immigration, Justice and Attorney General, Nova Scotia

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