Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

March 18, 2011 14:45 ET

Government to Refocus Resettlement Efforts

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 18, 2011) - Canada is ending the ineffective Source Country refugee class in order to put more emphasis on work with the United Nations and refugees in the greatest need, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

"As part of the changes being introduced with the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, the government is expanding its resettlement programs by 20% to help more refugees living in camps and urban slums," said Minister Kenney. "Since the Source Country class is not working as it was intended, we plan to repeal it in order to refocus our resettlement efforts on refugee situations where needs are the greatest, such as Iraqi refugees in Syria and Bhutanese refugees in Nepal."

"By focusing on situations where we can work with partners such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), other resettlement countries and private sponsors, Canada will continue to be a world leader in the protection of refugees. Canada currently resettles one out of every 10 refugees resettled around the world, and that commitment is increasing with the new measures we have introduced," added Minister Kenney.

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, CIC has found the class to be too restrictive as it only applies to people in countries listed in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. In order to change or add a country to that list, a regulatory change is required, which is a lengthy process. As a result, the Source Country class is an inflexible tool which does not allow the government to respond to emerging situations. As well, in some of the designated source countries, there is minimal uptake, while in others, the people who are applying for the program are not eligible or are not those for whom it was intended.

Furthermore, overall approval rates in the program are low. In Colombia, for example, the approval rate is estimated at less than 10 percent, demonstrating the program inefficiency, and raising the question of how resources could be better spent. This means that CIC has to process nine cases before finding one that merits Canada's protection. In contrast, by working through the UNHCR, over 85 percent of all cases are approved.

These problems reflect the reality that Canada's resettlement program is most effective when CIC works with partners like the UNHCR, other resettlement countries and private sponsors. By repealing the Source Country class, the resettlement program will be streamlined to focus on partnerships that can deliver protection to those who are most in need.

"The UNHCR appreciates the measures Canada has taken to make more resettlement spaces available for UNHCR resettlement referrals, recognizing the large number of refugees around the world in need of protection through resettlement," said Abraham Abraham, UNHCR representative in Canada.

"Canada's commitment to refugee protection remains strong," Minister Kenney added. "We recently agreed, at the emergency request of the UNHCR, to resettle a group of 50 Vietnamese Montagnard refugees who had been under risk of return to Vietnam. We are working with the UNHCR to resettle up to 5,000 Bhutanese refugees from Nepal and we have extended our commitment to help Iraqi refugees for an additional two years. This will mean that the total number of Iraqi refugees resettled to Canada by 2013 will exceed 20,000. In addition, we'll be making another announcement in the coming days to help even more Iraqi refugees find protection in Canada."

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Contact Information

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