Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

March 18, 2011 19:30 ET

Canada's Commitment to Iraqi Refugees Remains Strong

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 18, 2011) - Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney today met with Iraqi community members in Toronto to promote the continued resettlement of Iraqi refugees to Canada through the government-assisted and private sponsorship programs.

"We are blessed as Canadians that we live in a country where the freedom to practice your religion is not an issue," said Minister Kenney. "The arrival last year of several refugees who had to flee after their church was bombed in Baghdad is only one example of the persecution many people face because of their beliefs. The tradition we have in this country of coming to the aid of people in need is one of the things that makes me most proud about being Canadian."

To further expand Canada's efforts, Minister Kenney announced a cost-sharing pilot project with two organizations: the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto, and the Asmaro Society in Windsor. Each organization will have access to up to $100,000 in assistance in the form of three months of income support for each Iraqi refugee they sponsor.

Today's announcement supports Canada's efforts to resettle more Iraqi refugees. In 2009, in response to ongoing conditions in Iraq and requests from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Canada agreed to more than double the number of refugees it will resettle through the mission in Damascus through the private sponsorship program where most Iraqi refugees apply. These measures will continue until 2013. The new cost-sharing project with the Armenian Community Centre and the Asmaro Society supports the measures announced in 2009 by helping these organizations increase their ability to sponsor Iraqi refugees.

"The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program is a vital expression of Canadian values - we do it because we care," said Minister Kenney. "Through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, Canadians play an active part in sponsoring refugees and helping them find protection and build a new life here in Canada."

Also as part of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, the Government of Canada is increasing the number of resettled refugees from camps and urban slums by 20%. The number of refugees resettled through the Government-Assisted Refugees Program will be increased over time by up to 500, and a further 2,000 resettlement places will be added to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. Since the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program began 30 years ago, Canadians have sponsored more than 200,000 refugees.

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Contact Information

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Minister's Office
    Alykhan Velshi
    Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Communications Branch
    Media Relations