Thursday, November 5, 2015

Press Release CISSA-ACSEI - Immigrant and refugee serving agencies across Canada are ramping up contingency plans

November 5, 2015

Immigrant and refugee serving agencies across Canada are ramping up contingency plans to respond to the largest refugee resettlement relocation movement in thirty five years.

VANCOUVER, BC - "As we welcome the appointment of Honourable John McCallum as Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, preparations have begun in refugee reception centres across Canada in response to the Government of Canada’s Syrian refugee resettlement plan. We are now on stand-by putting in place significantly enhanced reception services to welcome an expedited increase of Syrian refugees – the full range of settlement supports services and expertise as we have undertaken in previous large refugee resettlement relocation movements," says Chris Friesen, Chair of the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance- Alliance canadienne du secteur de l’√©tablissement des immigrants (CISSA-ACSEI).

While awaiting the timeframe and clarity on the multi-pronged approach necessary to undertake this bold refugee resettlement humanitarian goal CISSA-ACSEI member agencies are actively involved in various refugee readiness related activities across the country including such things as

- working with city staff in some parts of the country to explore the activation of emergency reception and housing procedures;

- putting in place regional refugee readiness planning sessions to develop coordinated response systems with key actors including school superintendents, health authorities, city governments, housing authorities;

- arranging an in-person meeting in Toronto Nov 28-29 with representatives of refugee reception centres and sponsorship agreement holders across Canada to assess current capacity in key areas -- long term housing needs, language class and daycare wait-lists, communication mechanisms, etc;

- issuing public calls for action and help with longer term housing needs, volunteers and free limited services from dentists, registered clinical counsellors, private sponsorship, etc;

- putting in place on going public education events on refugees and their settlement process to garnish ways that the public can be actively involved;

- setting up communication structures eg. telephone help lines, designated websites and systems that will ensure enhanced local and regional coordination on the ground as well as across Canada; and,

- beginning recruitment for a variety of additional staffing resources.

We fully understand and appreciate that Canadians want us, as a country, to do more to help respond to this growing refugee crisis through immediate resettlement. CISSA-ACSEI and its member agencies stand by to fully support and share our expertise and insights to assist Minister McCallum and his cabinet colleagues who will be critically important in addressing this possibly unprecedented mass refugee relocation movement in Canadian history. We welcome the opportunity to support future Syrian government assisted refugees. We have no doubt that with their determination, skills and resilience that Syrian refugees who for no fault of their own have had to flee their homes and will like other refugees before them contribute immensely to their new country. We, working with the Canadian public, will ensure that these refugee newcomers will have the best possible start in this country.

For further information:
Contact: Chris Friesen, Chair, CISSA-ACSEI
Phone: 778 995 3009


The Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance- Alliance canadienne du secteur de l’√©tablissement des immigrants (CISSA-ACSEI) is a pan-Canadian Association formed to represent the immigrant settlement sector in Canada and to bring the sector’s expertise to bear on public policies and programs for enhancing the settlement and integration of immigrants and refugees.


 The current government assisted refugee annual target was set by the former government at between 5,800 and 6,500 individuals. Canada is currently on track to resettle over 6,900 government assisted refugees in 2015 prior to PM designate Justin Trudeau 25,000 Syrian refugee response;

 There are thirty six (36) refugee reception centres across Canada that provide the initial transitional housing and first language resettlement services to all government assisted refugees.

 Unlike European and Middle East states and putting aside the sheer number of refugees in the region, Canada has well developed infrastructure, programs and systems to enhance the settlement and integration of refugees;

 Our member agencies have expertise and experience in providing reception and settlement services on military bases including during Operation Parasol in 1999;

 Although the refugee resettlement target was much lower, the last time Canada responded with a large refugee relocation movement within a short time period -90 days - was in the fall of 1972 when this country responded to the Asian-Ismaili refugee crisis in Uganda; and

 In 2014 refugees accounted for 9% of overall immigration to Canada in comparison to 1980 when refugees accounted for 28% of all immigration.

Caroline Dailly | Manager - Resettlement Assistance Program
530 Drake Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 2H3
T: 604-684-7498 Ext. 1611 | F: 604-684-5683