Canada’s Government-Assisted Refugees (GAR) program plays a crucial role in offering support and resettlement opportunities to refugees who have been referred by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) or other reputable organizations. Through this program, the Government of Canada and the province of Quebec extend a helping hand to those in need, ensuring their safety, well-being, and successful integration into Canadian society.
Referral Process and Eligibility:
Refugees cannot directly apply for resettlement in Canada as government-assisted refugees. Instead, the Canadian government relies on referral organizations like the UNHCR to identify individuals in need of resettlement. To be considered for referral, refugees must register for refugee status with the UNHCR or state authorities. This ensures that the most vulnerable individuals are identified and given an opportunity for a fresh start in Canada.
Features and Support for Government-Assisted Refugees: Once refugees are referred for resettlement, either the Government of Canada or the province of Quebec extends its support to them. Non-governmental agencies, known as service provider organizations, funded by the government, assist refugees in their settlement journey. Government-assisted refugees receive support for up to one year from their arrival in Canada or until they become self-sufficient, whichever comes first.
The support provided to government-assisted refugees includes:
- Accommodation: Assistance in finding suitable housing during the initial settlement period.
- Clothing: Provision of essential clothing items to meet immediate needs.
- Food: Access to nutritious meals through various programs and initiatives.
- Employment Support: Help in finding employment opportunities and becoming self-supporting in the long term.
- Resettlement Assistance: Guidance and resources to navigate the resettlement process, including access to healthcare services, language classes, and integration into Canadian society.
Human Rights Defenders Stream:
Recognizing the unique risks faced by human rights defenders, Canada has established a dedicated stream under the GAR program. This stream aims to resettle up to 250 human rights defenders and their family members each year. Referral organizations like the UNHCR, Front Line Defenders, and ProtectDefenders.eu work together to identify individuals who are most in need of protection and refer them to Canada through this stream. Eligible human rights defenders cannot directly apply for resettlement but are identified through these collaborative efforts.
What Happens Next: Once referred for resettlement in Canada as a government-assisted refugee, individuals can expect a structured process. The post-referral phase involves understanding what happens next, the processing timeline for government-assisted refugee cases, and the support and resources available upon arrival in Canada. The Canadian government, in collaboration with non-governmental agencies, ensures a comprehensive and well-coordinated approach to resettlement.
Urgent Protection Program (UPP):
In addition to the GAR program, Canada operates the Urgent Protection Program (UPP) to respond to urgent requests by refugees facing threats to their lives, expulsion, or forced return to their home countries. UPP cases are designated as government-assisted refugees, and some may be identified as Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) cases. This program demonstrates Canada’s commitment to protecting those in immediate danger and providing a safe haven for vulnerable individuals.
Women at Risk (WAR):
The UPP includes cases of women whose lives are at risk and who require urgent protection. Women at risk do not need to demonstrate settlement potential but must pass medical, security, and criminality requirements. As with all refugee applicants, women at risk and their accompanying dependents undergo rigorous assessments to ensure their safety and wellbeing. Women at risk may also be privately sponsored, further expanding the avenues of support available.
Canada’s Government-Assisted Refugees program plays a pivotal role in providing protection and support to refugees in need of resettlement. Through collaborative efforts with referral organizations, comprehensive support services, and additional programs like the Human Rights Defenders Stream, Urgent Protection Program, and Women at Risk initiative, Canada remains committed to upholding its humanitarian values. By extending a helping hand to refugees, Canada offers them a chance to rebuild their lives, fostering a diverse and inclusive society that benefits all Canadians.