Canada’s Process to Resettle 25,000 Syrian Refugees

Akre Camp for Syrian refugees from Rojava in Akre (Aqre) town, Dohuk Governorate, Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Working together with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and other nations, Canada is looking for registered individuals who wish to immigrate to Canada. An emphasis is placed on candidates deemed vulnerable, with highest priority going to: complete families, women at risk, and members of the LGBTI community. Refugees who are being privately sponsored are already identified with their information and applications in the hands of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Since November 17, 2015, the UNHCR has been contacting selected individuals who may be interested in resettling in Canada. If interested, they will be directed to go to the nearest UNHCR office where their identity will be verified. Their identity will be verified by their photo registration card and by an iris scan to ensure against fraud. After the individual’s identity has been verified they’ll proceed with an information session, followed by scheduling an interview with a Canadian visa officer.

From there refugees will be sent to one of two processing centers in Amman or Beirut for additional screening. Immigration offices in Turkey will also see an increase in their visa processing capabilities. Over 500 government officials have been sent to assist in the processing. Since the immigration processing will be completed entirely overseas, it requires very in-depth screening such as:

  • Security screening by comparing the individual’s biographical and biometric information with immigration, law enforcement, and security databases.
  • Full medical exam including screening for communicable diseases such as tuberculosis.
  • Criminal history screening in collaboration with Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA).

After successfully completing the screening process, selected refugees will be granted permanent resident visas. They will have to confirm their identity prior to leaving for Canada by the CBSA and again by Border Services Officers once they enter.


Health Workers Associations Lobby against Cuts to Refugee Health Care

Cuts to health care for refugees are hoped to reduce the growth in health care expenditures in Canada

Health workers groups held several rallies across Canadian cities yesterday to protest government cuts to health care programs for refugees.

As part of its deficit reduction program, the federal government is cutting medical services provided at no cost to refugees through the Interim Federal Health Program, limiting free services to emergency health care and treatment of chronic conditions that pose a public health threat, like tuberculosis. The government expects the move will save it $100 million over five years.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has also indicated that the move was motivated by complaints that refugees receive free dental and eye care from the federal government that Canadian citizens do not.

“Canadians have been telling us they don’t think that smuggled migrants and bogus asylum claimants should be getting better health-care benefits than Canadian seniors and taxpayers. They won’t be getting extras that Canadians don’t get, like dental, eye care, and discretionary pharmaceuticals,” Kenney said in April.

Health workers associations, including the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nursing Association and the Canadian Pharmacists Association, whose members stand to lose tens of millions of dollars in health care work due to the cuts, wrote an open letter to the federal government in May criticizing the cuts.

In the letter they argued that the cuts would shift the cost of treating refugees to other groups like provincial governments, result in complications and higher costs in the future due to refugees not getting early treatment for medical problems, increase the load on emergency departments, and lead to an increase in public health threats from contagious diseases like tuberculosis.

Refugee Activists say new Bill violates Canadian Charter, Federal Government Says Bill Necessary to Protect Canada

Asylum Seekers (UNHCR/A. Webster)

The “Justice for Refugees and Immigrants Coalition”, a refugee activist group, made a public statement on Monday denouncing Bill C-31, a proposed update to the Immigration and Refugees Protections Act, charging that it violates the Canadian Charter of Rights.

The bill would strengthen the ability of Canadian immigration authorities to deport refugee claimants and prevent claimants from remaining in Canada through a long series of appeals.

The Federal Government rejected the coalition’s charges, and insisted that the bill is a vital step in protecting Canada’s asylum program from being exploited.

The refugee advocacy group was particularly critical of the proposed new power the bill would grant Canadian immigration authorities to detain refugee applicants for up to 12 months.

The Canadian government believes that this is necessary to prevent refugee applicants from escaping immigration controls and residing in Canada illegally, a problem that is common to other developed nations like the US, which now has an estimated 20-22 million illegal immigrants.