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Canada’s immigration detention system unfairly penalizes detainees: report

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

Canada’s immigration detention system relies on faulty information and is stacked against detainees, many of whom lack lawyers and are penalized for having severe mental illness, an audit has found.

The findings, by Toronto-based human rights lawyer Kathy Laird, were commissioned last year by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, the independent government agency whose decision-makers oversee detention reviews.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s government has vowed to find alternatives to the indefinite incarceration of non-citizens, who can be held without being charged if they are deemed a flight risk, a danger to the public or if their identity is unclear, according to Canada’s regulations.

People in detention are entitled to reviews of their status but the audit found that process is flawed to the detriment of the people incarcerated.

The audit’s recommendations include reform of the detention review process and an immediate review of “long-term detention files,” starting with the 80 people who have been in detention for more than a year.

Adjudicators frequently made decisions based on factual inaccuracies and speculation, and uncritically accepted the statements of border agents, often without allowing detainees to hear or present evidence themselves, the audit found. Detainees were also frequently without lawyers to advise them.

People with mental illness faced “extra barriers to release,” the audit said, citing the example of one man who spent four and a half years in detention and “suffered a complete mental collapse.” The audit said his mental state was used as a reason to keep him locked up.

The Immigration and Refugee Board said in a statement on Friday that it agrees with the recommendations, which “provide opportunities for positive change.”

Representatives for Canada’s Public Safety Ministry and the Immigration and Refugees Ministry, which oversees the Immigration and Refugee Board, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

Lawyer Lobat Sadrehashemi, president of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, said: “The findings are pretty clear that it’s a system that is very unfair for detainees. This has gone on for too long and the consequences are so severe.”

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Immigration critics urge Liberals to present clear plan, costing for asylum seekers

Posted on 18 July 2018 by admin

House of Commons immigration committee holding a special meeting

Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel has accused the government of normalizing the influx of irregular border crossers and wants an emergency summer session to hold the minister to account.

Calling it a “border crisis,” Rempel is pushing for the immigration committee to study the impact of increased asylum seekers crossing into Canada from the U.S., which would include calling Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to testify. The committee is holding a special meeting in Ottawa today to decide whether or not to conduct the study.

At a news conference before the meeting, Rempel said the issue has taken on new urgency because many refugee claimants currently housed in university dorms will face eviction in early August. Cities such as Toronto and Ottawa are buckling under the strain of stretched resources, overcrowded shelters and increased demand on food banks, she said.

Rempel accused the Liberal government of accepting the ongoing situation without a long-term, permanent plan to ensure adequate supports and funds are in place to deal with the steady influx. The Canadian public must have the full information to assess what has become a new immigration policy, she said.

“I think it is completely unacceptable for us to normalize the government being able to expend hundreds of millions of dollars in a piecemeal fashion without having that broader conversation,” Rempel said. “This is a big departure from any immigration policy this government ran on.”

Numbers down in June

New numbers released Friday show the volume of people intercepted by the RCMP decreased significantly in June, with 1,263 entering the country outside official border points compared to 1,869 in May.

Immigration committee chair Rob Oliphant said some MPs believe Rempel’s move is a “scurrilous” attempt to play politics, while others see a study as an opportunity to advise the public what action the government is taking to address the situation.

“This is not a crisis. This is a problem and it’s very appropriate for members of Parliament to get a briefing from ministers and other people to make sure everything is in order,” he said.

Hussen’s spokesperson Mathieu Genest said the minister respects the independence of the committee and has always appeared when asked. The government is moving forward with a “clear plan” to address asylum seekers, he said.

“Last month saw fewest number of asylum seekers crossing the border irregularly in the past year. While these numbers are promising, Canadians expect all levels of government to work together to live up to our international and humanitarian obligations,” he wrote in an email. “We continue to engage directly with the municipalities in order to ensure the orderly management of asylum seekers.”

Tense talks with Ontario

Today’s meeting comes after tense discussions between Hussen and provincial immigration ministers Friday, which ended with the minister openly criticizing the Ontario government for what he called a dangerous and unCanadian approach to the issue of asylum seekers.

“They’ve chosen to use false language with respect to so-called queue jumping, when we have told them over and over again there is no such thing,” Hussen told reporters in Winnipeg at the closing press conference. “Asylum seekers are processed in a separate queue at the IRB and all the other regular immigration programs are processed by IRCC, and conflating the two knowingly is irresponsible, it’s divisive, it’s fearmongering and it’s not Canadian, and it’s very dangerous.”

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Immigration minister criticizes Ontario Tories’ language on asylum seekers

Posted on 11 July 2018 by admin

HALIFAX—The federal minister of immigration is objecting to language being used by Ontario’s new Tory government to describe people claiming refugee status.

Last week a spokesman for Premier Doug Ford issued a statement describing asylum seekers as “illegal border crossers,” saying the influx has resulted in a housing crisis in Toronto and “threats to services that Ontario families depend on.”

Ahmed Hussen, the federal minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, told a news conference today in Halifax that he’s “very concerned” by the comments made by Ford and Lisa MacLeod, the provincial cabinet minister responsible for immigration.

Hussen, himself an immigrant from Somalia, says Canada has a legal obligation under national and international law to give a fair hearing to refugee claimants.

The new Ontario government has said it wants additional financial help from Ottawa in handling asylum seekers in Toronto.

However, Hussen was non-committal about whether additional funding was forthcoming, saying he’s “perplexed” by the request at a time when the province hasn’t committed to help Ottawa with a plan to redirect migrants to temporary shelters outside of Toronto.

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Protesters push back against immigration law that deters disabled people

Posted on 15 March 2018 by admin

Foreign nationals are inadmissible if their medical condition ‘might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services.’

When Luzviminda Alicbusan came to Canada in 2008 to work as a caregiver, she left her family in the Philippines, including her son who has a mental disability.

When she applied for permanent residency two years later, she said she was rejected because of her son’s condition.

“Why are they doing this to us, what did we do wrong?,” she asked. “Is having a child with a disability a crime?”

Alicbusan was among a small group of protesters who spent Monday morning holding signs and chanting outside immigration minister Ahmed Hussen’s constituency office in North York.

They were protesting a 40-year-old section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that says foreign nationals are inadmissible if their medical condition “might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services.”

Alicbusan said the government considers her son a burden on Canada’s health system. She visits the Philippines every two years to see him.

“Our children with disabilities are not a burden here,” she said. “They are a blessing to us, they are the reason why we become stronger, they are the reason we work so hard.”

Mary-Jane De Jesus, another caregiver from the Philippines, left her 19-year-old daughter Mary-Claire eight years ago. Her daughter has Down syndrome, which De Jesus says prevented her from getting permanent residency.

 “They said my daughter is going to be a burden here in Canada,” she said. “They said she’s going to cost a lot of money if she comes here. But she’s not a burden, she can do the normal things children do.”

Protesters plastered the door to Hussen’s office with signs calling for the end of that law, and displayed pictures of people with their children who they had to leave behind.

Hursh Jaswal, special assistant in the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said the government is “undertaking a fundamental review” of the policy.

“We understand the concerns raised by families looking to make Canada their home who are faced with this situation,” he said. “Our goal is to strike the right balance between welcoming new members into Canadian society through a fair and compassionate immigration system while also protecting our publicly funded health and social services.”

Anna Malla, a spokesperson at Caregivers’ Action Centre, said she is fighting for caregivers to get permanent residency upon arrival.

“The fact that caregivers have to leave their families right from the beginning is the main problem,” she said. “People who come here as caregivers to care for other people’s family members who are sick and disabled are then not allowed to bring their family members? That’s ironic and discriminatory.”

 

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Ministers responsible for Immigration and the Canadian Francophonie announce joint Action Plan for Increasing Francophone Immigration

Posted on 07 March 2018 by admin

TORONTO (ON) – Building on the momentum from the first Forum on Francophone Immigration in 2017 in New Brunswick, federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for immigration and for the Canadian Francophonie discussed concrete actions today to increase Francophone immigration outside Quebec.

Francophone immigration contributes to the country’s prosperity and is an important part of the country’s immigration strategies to support the growth and vitality of Francophone minority communities across Canada.

Federal Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen and Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Laura Albanese, co-chairs of the meeting, together with other provincial and territorial ministers, announced a new federal-provincial-territorial FPT Action Plan for Increasing Francophone Immigration Outside of Quebec. The Action Plan outlines actions that federal, provincial and territorial governments can take individually or collaboratively to increase Francophone immigration.

Examples of concrete actions in the Action Plan include:

•         Promoting awareness of Francophone immigration opportunities, immigration pathways and settlement services to prospective French-speaking applicants;

•         Increasing employer engagement in French-speaking immigrant recruitment and employment;

•         Increasing the availability, awareness and accessibility of French language services; and

•         Supporting diverse and inclusive Francophone communities.

The Action Plan supports the following outcomes:

•         an increased number of French-speaking immigrants settling in Canada outside Quebec;

•         an increased participation rate of French-speaking immigrants in local labour markets; and

•         an increased participation rate of French-speaking immigrants in broader communities and social networks.

Ministers agreed that the tracking of progress to achieve the objectives laid out in the Action Plan will be key. To this end, ministers committed to develop appropriate indicators and to foster the ongoing sharing of best practices to enable the reporting of progress over time. They will also continue to share progress periodically with each other and the community.

Following the Forum, a Symposium will be held with community organizations to act as a catalyst for broader stakeholder engagement and lay the foundation for potential collaborative actions within each jurisdiction. The Symposium will be organized by the Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie and will take place on March 22 in Calgary.

The Forum on Francophone Immigration is an opportunity for federal, provincial and territorial immigration and Francophonie ministers to meet and share ideas on how to encourage and promote Francophone immigration to Francophone minority communities in Canada.

Under the Canada-Quebec Accord, Quebec fully assumes sole responsibility for establishing immigration levels, and for the selection, francization and integration of immigrants. In areas under its responsibility, Quebec develops its policies and programs, legislates, regulates and sets its own standards.

 

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Province Cutting Cost to Ride the TTC in Half for People Paying to Ride GO Transit and UP Express

Posted on 13 October 2017 by admin

Ontario is lowering the cost of commuting for people in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) by introducing a 50 per cent discount for PRESTO card users who transfer between GO Transit or the Union Pearson Express (UP Express) and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), in both directions.

Premier Kathleen Wynne was at Union Station in Toronto today to announce that adult, senior and youth/student TTC riders will pay a TTC fare of just $1.50 when they use a PRESTO card to transfer to or from GO Transit or the UP Express. The discount will launch in January 2018, shortly after the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension will begin service to six new stations. For people whose regular commute includes GO/UP Express-TTC transfers, this step towards regional fare integration and more affordable transit options will save about $720 per year.

The new discount builds on a number of recent actions the government has taken to save people money, including a tax credit for seniors who use public transit, steps to make buying or renting a home more affordable and reducing residential electricity bills by 25 per cent on average.

Making public transit more convenient, available and affordable is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.

QUOTES

” We’re building transit across Ontario to help people get where they need to be. But the cost of commuting can add up quickly. Making it more affordable to hop on the TTC is going to save people money and make the journey that much easier. It’s about delivering a seamless transit system that recognizes just how interconnected our region is, and making it as easy as possible for people to get where they’re going.”

– Kathleen Wynne

Premier of Ontario

” We are making fares more affordable for the many commuters who already use a PRESTO card to connect between GO Transit, UP Express and the TTC. We also hope that this will persuade more commuters to take transit all the way to their destination. Working together with our municipal partners, we are committed to creating a seamless and cost-effective travel experience for transit riders.”

– Steven Del Duca

Minister of Transportation

” Thanks to bold leadership at City Hall and Queen’s Park, we have found a way to give a discount to those who use a mix of our transit systems. Transit will now be more affordable for Toronto residents who ride a mix of the TTC, UP Express and GO Transit to get around the city. This agreement also moves us a step closer to make sure that SmartTrack will cost Toronto residents the same as the TTC. We need to make sure that the transit we are building and maintaining remains affordable.”

– John Tory

Mayor of Toronto

” Metrolinx is committed to working with our partners on a seamless and integrated travel experience for customers across the region. Our region needs fare integration. This discount is an important first step in breaking down barriers to fare integration across the network, making it easier and more convenient to take transit.”

– Phil Verster

President and CEO of Metrolinx

 

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FREE FAIR FOR IMMIGRANTS and REFUGEES IN TORONTO TO HELP THEM SETTLE AND SUCCEED

Posted on 04 June 2017 by admin

 [TORONTO – May 29, 2017] – For 2017, immigration levels will reach 300,000 newcomers, international student numbers jumped 22 per cent over the last year, and these pro-immigration trends will only continue to increase in the coming years given Canada’s ageing demographics, according to recently released Census figures.  But bringing in immigrants to Canada and seeing them integrate and succeed are not one and the same.

That’s where the Career, Education & Settlement Immigrant Fair comes in.

Canadian Immigrant magazine invites all immigrants, newcomers, refugees and international students to its signature, free fair on Saturday, June 3, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This free event at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (255 Front St. W.) aims to help newcomers of all ages and backgrounds make connections and find strategies to succeed in Canada.

The free event includes:

– A tradeshow of exhibitors including employers (some hiring onsite!), settlement agencies and   educational institutes;

– Our popular day-long Resumé Clinic;

-Speed Mentoring by ACCES Employment and YMCA; and

– And inspirational immigrant speakers program including:

– Social media bootcamp

– Workshop on becoming a CPA

-Session on creating your professional brand

-Workshop on writing a resumé that get results

Learn more about the sessions and pre-register at www.canadianimmigrant.ca/careerfair/toronto.

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Study shows Canadian immigration system’s shift toward migrant workers

Posted on 01 April 2017 by admin

One out of five foreign workers becomes permanent residents, twice the rate from two decades ago, says a groundbreaking study that examines an immigration system increasingly geared toward temporary migrants.

Only nine per cent of temporary foreign workers who came in the mid-1990s successfully obtained permanent resident status, while some 21 per cent of them did by the end of 2014, according to the new Statistics Canada report.

It was the first study ever that examined Canada’s national policies around attracting and retaining temporary foreign workers as immigrants.

Under the former Conservative government, Canada shifted toward an immigration system that absorbs migrant workers who first come to the country on temporary status to meet labour market needs, compared to the old “nation-building” model that let migrants in immediately as permanent residents.

The new approach was adopted to ensure the employability of newcomers and address the “doctor-driving-cab” immigrant conundrum, but has fuelled concerns that it creates a two-tiered system, where migrant workers don’t have the same protections as others and can be trapped in abusive and exploitative conditions in pursuit of permanent status.

The Statistics Canada report was released before Wednesday’s federal budget, which is expected to include further reforms to Canada’s temporary foreign worker programs.

The number of temporary residents entitled to work in Canada, including migrant workers and those under the international mobility program such as intra-company transfers, has tripled since early 2010s to more than 500,000, surpassing the 260,000 permanent residents settling here per year.

However, the share of higher-skilled foreign workers declined dramatically from 67 per cent in the late 1990s to just 40 per cent in the late 2000s.

The transition rate from temporary to permanent status varies dramatically for various classes of foreign workers, with live-in caregivers enjoying the greatest success despite a drastic drop from 83 per cent to 56 per cent in the last decade.

Among other groups, 31 per cent of low-skilled workers who arrived between 2005 and 2009 successfully became permanent residents compared to 23 per cent among their counterparts in higher-skilled occupations. The transition rate was less than 3 per cent among seasonal agricultural workers.

Temporary foreign workers from less developed countries were also more inclined to seek permanent residence in Canada, given expected increases in their standard of living.

Those from countries with higher gross domestic products per capita, such as the U.S., U.K., France and Japan had much lower transition rates than workers from the Philippines, India and China.

Four out of five of low-skilled workers obtained their permanent residence through the PNP program that allows provincial governments to select its own immigration candidates to meet local labour market needs.

About 38 per cent of higher-skilled workers got their status through the PNP program and half through the federal skilled workers program. The only option available for migrant farm workers is through marriage with Canadians.

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Immigration fuels Canada’s population growth of 1.7 million in five years: latest census

Posted on 15 February 2017 by admin

Immigration, urbanization and a burgeoning west.

That’s the story of the nation, revealed Wednesday as Statistics Canada began its year-long roll-out of data collected in the 2016 census.

Statistics Canada counted 35,151,728 people in its May 2016 census, a 5 per cent increase over the 2011 national count, and 14 million private dwellings, up 5.6 per cent.

Toronto held its title as Canada’s largest city, with 2,731,571 residents, 7.8 per cent of the country’s population. That’s one million more than Montreal, the second-place city, with 1,704,694 residents.

Four cities in the Golden Horseshoe — Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton and Hamilton — ranked among the top 10 largest Canadian cities.

The new numbers reveal that Canada’s population grew by 1.7 million people since the last census in 2011. Immigrants accounted for two-thirds of the increase and the so-called natural increase — the difference between births and deaths — accounted for the rest.

Over the coming years, newcomers to Canada will account for more and more of the country’s population growth due to low fertility and an aging population.

Canada’s population growth slowed in the last five years, compared to the previous census period when the country grew by 5.9 per cent, but still led all G7 nations.

In the census done five years ago, the story was of a nation growing and going west. That’s the story this time around too, with Canada’s surging western provinces all recording above-average increases in population.

Population growth accelerated in both Manitoba, up 5.8 per cent, and Alberta, which led all provinces with an 11.6 per cent increase, despite the oil patch slowdown that has slowed its economy.

Urban areas in the west were also fast-growing with Canada’s fastest growing urban areas were in the west with Calgary leading the way (up 14.6 per cent), followed by Edmonton (13.9 per cent), Saskatoon (12.5 per cent) and Regina (11.8 per cent).

Ontario — Canada’s most populous province with 13.5 million people — grew by 4.6 per cent. It’s the second census in a row that the province’s growth rate has been below the national average.

“Are we seeing a new pattern for Ontario where growth will be slightly lower than the national average? Who knows,” Martel said.

Still, Guelph, Oshawa, Toronto, Barrie, Ottawa and the Kitchener-Waterloo region were among the larger Ontario centres that saw above-average growth.

Immigrant settlement is behind much of the regional differences in population growth.

“We know that the geographic distribution of immigrants has changed slightly over the last few years. More are going towards Saskatchewan and Manitoba and less to Ontario and that explains in large part why the population growth in Ontario has decreased,” he said.

New Brunswick was alone in seeing its population actually drop, falling by 0.5 per cent. The population of Saint John fell by 2.2 per cent, blamed on people moving out of the province.

Indeed, Atlantic Canada’s share of the population has dropped over the years because of lower population growth. In 2016, 6.6 per cent of Canadians lived in the region, compared with 10 per cent in 1966.

Population growth slowed in Ontario and Quebec but the two provinces still accounted for 61.5 per cent of the Canadian population.

Nunavut took top spot as the fastest growing province or territory, seeing its population jump by 12.7 per cent, to 35,944 residents, thanks to the highest fertility level in the country. Women in Nunavut give birth to 2.9 children on average, compared to the national average of 1.6 children.

The census numbers track the changing fortunes of towns and cities across the nation. Warman, Sask. took the prize as the country’s fastest growing town or city with a 55 per cent jump in its population to 11,020. Shelburne, Ont. saw its population jump by 39 per cent.

At the other end of the scale were towns like Bonnyville, Alberta, Flin Flon, Manitoba, and the Ontario communities of Espanola, Kirkland Lake and Elliot Lake, which all lost residents.

Still, the latest census data confirms the continuing urbanization of Canada with 83 per cent of its population now living in cities. And the large urban areas grew by 7.9 per cent, faster than the overall growth in population.

“Canada was a rural country 150 years ago at Confederation. Now, we’re among the countries in the world with the largest proportion of the population living in metropolitan areas,” Martel said.

The census data also shows that population growth was higher in so-called peripheral municipalities (up 6.9 per cent) compared with central municipalities (5.8 per cent). “This is very valuable information for those who are planning public transportation,” Martel said.

Canada had just 3.9 people per square kilometre in 2016, compared with 35.3 people per square kilometre in the United States. But the country’s population is highly concentrated with two out of three people living within 100 kilometres of the U.S. border.

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Ottawa’s new cap on refugee applications upsets sponsors

Posted on 29 December 2016 by admin

The federal government will cap new applications for private sponsorship of Syrian and Iraqi refugees at 1,000 in 2017, due to a backlog and long wait times faced by those whose applications are still being processed.

But some feel the move, announced earlier this week by Citizenship and Immigration Minister John McCallum, betrays the positive global perception Canada has seen since late last year when the Liberals took office and committed to accepting more refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.

“The government’s playing politics here, on the one hand saying we should be celebrated for being welcoming, and then on the other hand stopping people from being able to get to safety,” said Lesley Wood, a sociology professor at York University who has sponsored two Syrian refugee families.

The government’s policy, which came into effect Dec. 19, places a limit of 1,000 sponsorship applications for the next year by groups of five people or more and community sponsors such as organizations.

It “forms part of a broader strategy to address the large backlog and long wait times in the Privately Sponsored Refugees category,” according to the government.

Nearly 39,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada since November 2015, of which 13,700 have been privately sponsored. But Canada4Refugees, which represents private sponsorship groups, estimated earlier this month fewer than one-third of refugees who applied before April have arrived in Canada, with more than 5,000 applications still being processed.

Wood helped sponsor a family of six who are from near Aleppo and arrived in Canada this past June. The Syrian government took full control of the city, once the stronghold of the rebellion, on Thursday, marking President Bashar Assad’s most significant victory over opposition fighters since the uprising began five years ago.

“They’re worried about their family members,” said Wood. “We’re just starting a new sponsorship to try and raise the money for the woman’s sister, who’s got six kids, so a family of eight. News like this makes us wonder whether we’re going to be able to bring her and her kids. It’s absurd.”

Wood also helped sponsor a second family of four individuals who lost two children in the war. However, she said, they are stuck right now in Jordan because their applications haven’t been processed.

“We were expecting them a year ago, so even when the numbers were moving fast, they weren’t moving fast enough for people whose lives are in danger,” she said.

Seher Shafiq of Lifeline Syria, an organization that matches Canadian sponsors with families trying to flee the war, said their group alone has a backlog of about 2,000 refugees.

“We’re encouraging people to fundraise so that we can match some of these cases to sponsor groups and put them in line to be processed by the government,” said Shafiq. “When the picture of Alan Kurdi came out, we had overwhelming amount of sponsors, so many so that we couldn’t match them quick enough to our cases, but now we have an opposite situation where we’ve had people, some of them almost a year, waiting for sponsor groups.”

Shafiq said the organization has helped bring 400 privately sponsored refugees to Canada, while another 800 have been matched with sponsors and whose cases are being processed by the government.

“There’s definitely a perception that we’ve done a lot and the job is done. We definitely should be proud,” she said. “Canada has been recognized on the world stage for taking action for this crisis but at the same time the need is so great that we often forget there’s still so much to be done.”

Syed Hussan, an organizer with immigrant and refugee group No One is Illegal, called the government’s new policy a “tweak” to an already “disappointing” system.

“The Liberal government has taken a piecemeal approach and has therefore been unable to adequately respond to the needs of global refugee flows,” Hussan said. “There’s millions of refugees, millions, and Canada’s taking so very few either as percentage of its population or as a percentage of its size.”

The backlog is because the Liberals “have simply not hired enough people to process the applications,” according to Hussan. He said those trying to flee the war will face the harshest consequences because of this.

“The key challenge is going to be that people will keep looking for alternative venues for safety and dignity,” he said. “Syrians . . . who are stuck, who are going to try and make the journey they can through the perilous Mediterranean crossing and face death.”

While it’s unclear how the government will select which 1,000 applications to process next year, the cap has would-be sponsors feeling that raising the necessary funds might be an urgent matter — if, for example, applications are picked on a first-come, first-served basis.

An application cannot be processed until a certain minimum amount is raised, depending on the number of refugees one wishes to privately sponsor. It takes at least $12,600 to sponsor one individual and $27,000 for a family of four, according to Shafiq.

Wood is aiming to raise about $60,000 that will be needed to bring the family of eight to Canada.

“We know it’s going to be a long process even when the numbers are favourable but this could really slow things down,” she said. “The worry is that they’re in a conflict zone and as their kids get a little bit older, they get dragged into fighting. They’re in danger both from the bombing, but they’re also in danger of being dragged in against their will.”

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