Last month, Bishop Anna Greenwood-Lee, Rabbi Harry Brechner and Imam Zoheir Tahar co-authored an opinion piece in The Globe and Mail about the impact of upcoming federal regulations upon refugee sponsorship: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-federal-changes-could-make-it-impossible-for-private-groups-to-sponsor/.
In it they advocate that the Canadian government should be working with SAHs (Settlement Agreement Holders) to make it easier for communities of faith to continue the important and sacred work of welcoming refugees to our towns and cities. Changes to policy will place more administrative burdens on SAHs (who are volunteer-based for the most part) and there will be stresses upon funding to meet these new demands.
We have an impeccable record of managing our program and making our sponsorships successful. We are proud of the work we have done and of the individuals who have come to Canada to establish new lives. However, our efforts will be facing new challenges. The changes to be implemented, we believe, are short-sighted. The intention of the federal government, it appears, is to minimize risk while squandering the substantial social capital that has led to thousands of hours and millions of dollars being dedicated to our work over the past years.
I encourage you to write to your Member of Parliament and share your concerns about these changes and the impact it will have on the newcomers, many of whom are hoping to sponsor their loved ones to reunite with them here in Canada.
It may be worth noting that we have successfully completed 105 sponsorships (of about 420 people) over the last six years. Currently, we have 128 people with 12 months of sponsorship and there are another 300 waiting to enter our program. All in all, this is approximately 850 newcomers to our communities.
We are in active discussions with the Vancouver Island community and the Ecclesiastical Province of British Columbia and Yukon about new ways that our work can continue. We are hopeful about these possibilities. We are saddened by the regulations being put in place, and we hope that the government comes to realize the impact of its decisions upon the families and individuals hoping to find refuge and a new life in our country.