Canada Boosts Sponsor Program for Refugees

Canada has long been an example of a country that offers refuge and the opportunity for integration to those from other countries. The Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) Program has existed for over 40 years now, with Canadians and permanent residents united in their pursuit to provide safety and stability through resettlement to thousands every year.

The PSR Program was the first opportunity for Canadians to participate in the resettlement of refugees, and it began in earnest in 1978. More than 350,000 refugees entered Canada under the program between 1979 and 2020.

Without this group effort championed by more than 130 sponsorship agreement holders (SAHs), Canada would not have achieved such success in welcoming so many into our nation as refugees.

Canada Welcomes More Refugees

In recognition of the numerous community organizations that have grown to support refugees, Minister of Immigration, Sean Fraser announced on February 17, 2023, in Ottawa, an impressive increase in refugee sponsorship-from 1,300 when introduced in 2012 to a whopping 13,500 by 2023.

This is an expansion of 12,150 more opportunities for SAHs! As we continue forward with this program's growth, these numbers are sure to bring about meaningful change and much-needed assistance for people all around the world.

The extra cap spaces will be greatly beneficial to both new and established sponsorship agreement holders, as they help launch their operations and allows for growth within the organizations. The support provided by these organizations is invaluable; from searching out refugees to submitting applications, it covers all stages of the process. Moreover, once sponsored newcomers arrive in Canada, SAHs provide them with long-term assistance to ensure a successful transition into society.

“Our government is increasing the number of refugees that can be sponsored by sponsorship agreement holders to 13,500, a 10-fold increase from when the cap was first introduced in 2012. Today’s announcement will support the vital work of these community organizations so they can continue helping refugees from around the world settle in Canada. I want to thank these partners, who make this program possible year after year. Your work is a testament to the compassion of Canadians, and we’re grateful for all that you do.”
– The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

SAHs enter into contracts with IRCC committing to sponsor a specific number of refugees each year for resettlement in Canada. Throughout the duration of the sponsorship, which is normally 12 months, sponsors give refugee families financial support and assistance with relocation. Financial assistance covers recurring monthly expenses for basics (including housing, food, transit in public, clothes, and furnishings) as well as social and emotional support.

The Programs That Make It Happen

The Government-Assisted Refugee Program (GAR) as well as the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program, are Canada's other two resettlement initiatives, and are enhanced by the PSR Program. Together, they enable Canada to accept more refugees each year than it could by itself, and they are only one of the numerous ways the country is striving to meet its target of bringing in more than 83,500 privately sponsored refugees by 2025.

Canada’s Immigration & Refugee Goals

In accordance with the IRCC's 2023–2025 Immigration Levels Strategy, Canada will continue to be a leader in the world for the integration and resettlement of refugees, hosting over 144,000 of them in the following three years, including over 83,500 who are sponsored privately.

“Sponsorship agreement holders and their community partners contribute roughly $135 million annually in sponsorship funds, in addition to their own operating costs and service delivery costs. The sponsorship community is pleased with the increase in sponsorship spaces for 2023 and commends the important work IRCC is undertaking to address the significant processing backlogs. We hope to see high numbers of landings in 2023 for all PSR Program resettled newcomers.” – Lena Awwad, SAH Council Vice Chair, and Research and Programs Director at Islamic Family and Social Services Association

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