Privately-sponsored Syrian refugees more likely to find work: Document

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(This article originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

Syrian refugees sponsored by private groups such as churches and charities are five times more likely than those sponsored by the Trudeau government to have found work in Canada, the Toronto Sun has learned.

According to a January 2017 ministerial briefing document from the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), all Syrian refugees face “barriers to employment” — but the outcomes for different programs is stark.

The document reveals the gap between Syrian refugees settled through the private program compared to those who come in via the government-led program.

The IRCC document — made public through an access to information request and shared with the Sun — states that Canada welcomed 46,321 refugees in 2016. This represents a 136% increase over the previous year.

The document includes a November 2016 impact evaluation of the Syrian refugee settlement program, based on a sample of recently-arrived Syrian refugees.

The survey found that 53% of privately sponsored Syrian refugees had been able to find work in Canada, compared to just 10% of government sponsored refugees.

That means that nine in 10 Syrian refugees sponsored by the Trudeau government are unemployed.

Language skills are often central in finding employment, and a lack of knowledge of the local language creates significant barriers — both in finding a job and integrating into Canadian society.

The Syrian refugee evaluation reveals a significant language gap between privately-sponsored refugees and government-assisted ones.

When it comes to government-sponsored refugees, chosen for resettlement by the Trudeau government, 83% had no knowledge of English or French.

Only 17% of Trudeau’s government-sponsored refugees possessed basic skills in one of Canada’s official languages.

By contrast, 81% of Syrian refugees settled through the parallel private system reported having knowledge of either English or French.

The evaluation also states that privately-sponsored refugees are “the most educated group of all refugee cohorts resettled to Canada.”

In Canada, charities, churches, and families can raise funds and directly sponsor refugees. Instead of relying on the depleted resources of the government, these privately sponsored refugees rely on their hosts to teach them English and help them get settled.

These hosts welcome refugees into their communities and give them a head start in Canada. This direct social interaction is found to have a very positive impact on privately-sponsored refugees.

These findings echo previous reports on employment and integration completed by the federal immigration department.

IRCC statistics show that privately-sponsored refugees reported a lower unemployment rate than the Canadian average within their first year in Canada. After five years in Canada...(READ MORE)