(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
The Trudeau government’s focus on rushing in government-sponsored refugees from Syria has caused a huge backlog to accumulate in the private sponsorship program that utilizes charities and churches for support.
And Trudeau’s political decisions may be putting lives at risk.
According to a briefing document from the federal immigration department, made public through an access to information request, there are now nearly 45,000 refugees sponsored by churches and community groups waiting in a queue.
Meanwhile, the Trudeau government continues to prioritize government-sponsored refugees. They have capped the privately-sponsored program to 16,000 spaces in 2017.
This means that in some cases, vulnerable refugees with a confirmed Canadian sponsor are forced to wait in dangerous and unpredictable circumstance — for years.
According to the documents, some refugees have already been waiting for more than three years to come to Canada.
The document also reveals that the significant backlog has also led to massive processing delays from refugees. While government-sponsored refugee applications are processed in an average of 15 months, refugees covered in privately-sponsored applications face an average wait time of 56 months.
This is of particular concern since as the Trudeau government has admitted many of the government-sponsored refugees were not in risk and were living in safe apartments away from the war zone before being flown to Canada.
Meanwhile, privately-sponsored refugees — often Christians being persecuted in places like Iraq and Syria — are left to fend for themselves.
The Trudeau government made three commitments when it came to resettling Syrian refugees, the documents states. The first two goals — to resettle 25,000 government-assisted refugees and another 25,000 privately-sponsored refugees — were achieved.
The Trudeau government, however, failed its final goal: To eliminate the backlog of privately-sponsored Syrian refugees by “2016 or early 2017.” Instead, the backlog has proliferated.
Canada resettles refugees through two corresponding programs: the government sponsored stream — where refugees are selected from United Nations camps and live in government housing once they arrive in Canada, and a parallel private stream that gets the community involved.
In the private stream, refugees are sponsored through charities, churches and families which help refugees find housing and get settled into the local community. These community groups assist newcomers in finding employment, enrolling kids in school and completing basic tasks like banking and grocery shopping.
Government refugees, on the other hand, compete for scarce government resources and receive little to no community support. Many of the Syrian refugees sponsored by the Trudeau government reported feeling abandoned and lost once they arrived in Canada.
Not surprisingly, privately-sponsored refugees have far better outcomes than those resettled through the government program.
As reported in the Sun, privately-sponsored refugees from Syria are...(READ MORE)