Canada: Government to Refocus Resettlement Efforts

Canada has repealed an ineffective refugee program in order to put more emphasis on work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and refugees in the greatest need, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

“By repealing programs such as the Source Country, we can direct more resources on proven and effective resettlement programs, such as our partnership with the UNHCR,” said Minister Kenney. “This will enable us to quickly offer refuge for more individuals in real need of protection.”
The Source Country class was intended to be a flexible tool for humanitarian intervention, capable of responding to a variety of situations. The objective of the class was to provide resettlement assistance to people who were in need of protection, but who were unable to leave their countries and were therefore not receiving international protection under the mandate of the UNHCR.

In practice, however, the Source Country class was an inflexible tool that did not allow the government to respond to emerging situations. The class was too restrictive as it only applied to people in countries listed in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations and this list was difficult to change. As well, in some of the designated source countries, there was minimal uptake, while in others, the people who applied were not eligible or were not those for whom the program was intended.

Furthermore, overall approval rates in the program were low. In Colombia, for example, the approval rate was estimated at less than 10 percent. This meant that CIC had to process nine cases before finding one that merited Canada’s protection. In contrast, by working through the UNHCR, over 85 percent of all cases are approved.

As part of the measures taken to repeal the Source Country class, Canada will also be ending direct access in the six countries where the source country program had previously operated. Direct access allows refugees in designated source countries to apply for resettlement directly to the Canadian embassy serving their area without a referral or a sponsorship. Once direct access ends, all applicants who have left their country of origin will need to include a referral from the UNHCR, a designated referral organization or a private sponsor with their resettlement application in order to be eligible for resettlement.

“Canada remains committed to those who need our protection,” added Minister Kenney. “We are working with international partners to find long-term solutions to a number of protracted refugee situations. For example, Canada will resettle 20,000 refugees from Iraq and Iran over a five-year period, many of whom were persecuted for their religious beliefs or sexual orientation. Also, as part of the measures to reform Canada’s refugee protection system, the Government of Canada is increasing the total number of refugees resettled each year by 20 percent. This means that up to 500 more government-assisted refugees and 2,000 privately sponsored refugees will find protection in Canada.”