Advocates urge Ottawa to remove quota on Afghan refugee sponsorship program
TORONTO — A group of advocates is urging the federal government to remove the limit on applications to sponsor certain Afghan refugees in Canada – or at least stop counting rejected applications towards it.
The government introduced a new program last month to allow Canadian individuals and organizations to privately sponsor up to 3,000 Afghan refugees who don’t have refugee status from the United Nations refugee agency or a foreign state.
It said it will accept sponsorship applications under the new program until Oct. 17, 2023, or once it has received applications for 3,000 refugees – whichever comes first.
In a letter sent to Immigration Minister Sean Fraser last week, a volunteer with Northern Lights Canada, a non-profit that’s been helping Afghan refugees in Toronto, said the new program’s cap is “highly prejudicial,” compared to the accommodations made for Ukrainians who want to come to Canada.
“Minister Fraser, I urge you to reconsider the design of the Afghan special program,” Heather Finley wrote in her letter dated Oct. 22.
“By raising the applicant quota and removing rejected applications from it, you will allow a more fair and equitable opportunity for Afghans in Canada to sponsor their families to join them here.”
Stephen Watt, co-founder of Northern Lights Canada, said the new program doesn’t come close to meeting the needs of Afghan refugees and their families and friends in Canada.
“Just having 3,000 spots in a crisis where millions of people are very recently displaced. It is insulting,” he said in an interview.
Almost 109,000 Ukrainians arrived to Canada between Jan. 1 and Oct. 23 under special programs the government introduced to help unlimited numbers of Ukrainians and their family members flee the war in Ukraine to safety.
Meanwhile, Ottawa has committed to resettling a total of 40,000 Afghan refugees after the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August of last year, with fewer than 23,000 having arrived in Canada so far.
Immigration Department spokeswoman Isabelle Dubois said the program that has allowed Ukrainians to come to Canada is using the department’s existing temporary resident visa processes, networks and infrastructure to bring as many of them as quickly as possible.
“This is not a refugee program, as compared to our Afghanistan refugee resettlement program, since Ukrainians have indicated that they need temporary safe harbour,” she said.
“Many of them intend to return to their home country when it will be safe to do so.”
Dubois said the government provided 3,000 additional spaces for organizations wanting to sponsor Afghan refugees in addition to the 3,000 spaces under the new special program.
“We are also processing existing and new private sponsorship applications for up to 7,000 Afghan refugees,” she said.
Watt said the new program’s application system crashed shortly after the government opened it at midnight on Oct. 17 due to many people rushing to submit applications.
He said many will likely end up rejected on a technicality because the government said it will process only the first 3,000 applicants and thus sponsors had to raise funds and write their sponsorship applications quickly.
“It’s so disappointing,” he said.
“This announcement that whether (the applications) are good or bad, we’re still going to count them towards the total. So, what that did was create this condition where people were frantically rushing to put together applications.”
Dubois confirmed the government will count all completed applications towards the new program’s 3,000 limit and said the department is currently reviewing the received applications to determine whether it reached that cap.
“We understand some clients experienced issues when submitting an application. No applications were lost as files were automatically backed up,” Dubois said.
“Applications are reviewed on a first-in, first-out basis to determine their completeness. We will continue to send out acknowledgments of receipt for applications that are determined to be complete and accepted into processing.”
Watt said the government should remove the cap on how many Afghan refugees can be privately sponsored for one year to allow people to work on the sponsorship applications — which he said can take months to put together because the requirements are so stringent and excessive.
“If you had a family of seven that may be $70,000 you have to get together. You have to get all the sponsorship documents lined up. You have to write the application,” he said.
“Filling out PDFs perfectly in perfect English when you’reanew Canadian, and having to having to rise to the challenge of these applications which are very demanding even for people who are completely fluent in English and have great use of computer skills.”
Andrew Griffith, a former director at the federal Immigration Department, said he is not aware of any government immigration or refugee program that counted rejected application towards the target other than the new special program for Afghan refugees.
He said many have been criticizing the government for apparently prioritizing Ukrainian refugees over Afghan refugees.
“The situations for both sets of refugees are dire in many cases,” he said. “I’m not (trying to) apply any value statements on that, but it does highlight another discrepancy between the the two groups of refugees in my view.”
Griffith said it’s true that the Ukrainians are formally coming to Canada on temporary visas, but many of them may end up staying here.
“Realistically, how many of the people accepted from Ukraine will go back?” he said. “I think most of them would probably like to go. I don’t deny that. But it depends on the situation.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2022.
Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
Youth HQ Acquires Professional Building – Establishing the Centre For Social Impact
Youth HQ is pleased to announce that the Professional Building located at 4808 50th Street downtown will soon become the Centre for Social Impact. Supporters of the building share in the vision of providing charities and non-profit organizations access to a centrally located unique building that offers affordable office, program, and meeting space. The building has had substantial upgrades and enhancements that will serve tenants well into the future.
Red Deer has long identified a need for a unique building dedicated exclusively to charitable activities. An inspiring place where charities and non-profit organizations collaborate. “Charities and non-profits are often subject to locations throughout the city based on affordability. With continuing rising operational and facility costs such as rent, utilities, and available space, charities and non-profits face challenges. The Centre for Social Impact will respond to these challenges so organizations can focus on what they do best –create impact in our community.” states Rob Lewis, Executive Director, YouthHQ.
The property was donated by Maclab Properties Group, a private real estate group founded in Edmonton in the 1950’s. Maclab has a long history of strong support for the non-profit community across Alberta and was excited to contribute to this project. Youth HQ took possession of the building March 6, 2023. Tenants can look forward to affordable office space, shared meeting space and common areas, available reserved parking, affordable IT support on site, and exceptional ongoing building maintenance.
Interested tenants are encouraged to contact Rob Lewis, Youth HQ for more information.
Youth HQ is also looking for a donor who shares in this vision of creating a place that will benefit the community for years to come. This donor (individual or corporate) would have title name to the building – ___________________ Centre for Social Impact.
This is an exciting time for charities and non-profit organizations in Red Deer. The need for a location dedicated to social impact is finally a reality. Thank you to all our supporters for sharing in our vision and making the Centre for Social Impact a reality that will benefit Red Deer well into the future.
Red Deer has long identified a need for a unique building dedicated exclusively to charitable activities and maximizing social impact. The proposed Centre for Social Impact (CSI) would be an inspiring place where charities and non-profit organizations can collaborate; a place centrally located where families can readily access a variety of supports and services; a place where organizations can share resources and minimize rising operating costs; and a place with in-house maintenance and operational supports.
Charities and non-profits are facing numerous challenges that threaten their ability to fulfill their respective missions. Rising operational costs (rent, utilities, service supports, insurance, etc.) directly influence the impact of the public donated dollar. Combining these rising costs with an increased demand for services limits the capacity for these organizations to respond to those needs. The ever-increasing competition for a declining public dollar has never been greater than it is today. The post-pandemic reality for charities and non-profits that were able to weather the storm the past three years, combined with the present economy, has compounded these challenges. The need for a building dedicated to social impact has never been greater.
Youth HQ has recently acquired a building that will not only benefit the services within Youth HQ but will also directly benefit many charities and non-profits in Red Deer and Central Alberta. The Professional Building, located on Ross Street, will become the Centre for Social Impact for the purpose of supporting charities and non-profits.
The property was donated by Maclab Properties Group, a private real estate group founded in Edmonton in the 1950’s. Maclab has a long history of strong support for the non-profit community across Alberta and was excited to contribute to this project.
ABOUT YOUTH HQ
Youth HQ has been serving Red Deer and Central Alberta since 1976. Youth HQ is the administrative structure that presently oversees Big Brothers Big Sisters of Red Deer and District, BGC (Boys and Girls Club) of Red Deer & District, the 49th Street Youth Emergency Shelter, and Camp Alexo. This organizational structure with one Board of Directors, one Executive Director, and one administrative team supports all the entities described. Consequently, the publicly donated dollar goes much further in directly impacting the children and families we serve. Youth HQ was the first organization in Canada to bring two nationally affiliated charities under one roof.
Several similar organizations across Canada (particularly in Alberta) have since established similar operational structures. Youth HQ supports more than 2,200 children and families annually.
Youth HQ has a well-established track record of success and has proven its ability to embrace ambitious ventures for the purpose of enhancing social impact. Examples include the tremendous expansions of BGC programs and services into 13 surrounding locations within Central Alberta and the 3-million-dollar Camp Alexo Facility Master Plan that now serves numerous groups and organizations throughout the year.
Our agency tagline with BGC is “Opportunity Changes Everything”. This incredible opportunity will create positive change not only for Youth HQ but also for many charities and non-profits in Red Deer and Central Alberta.
IMPACT TO CHARITIES AND NON-PROFITS
• Centrally located with easy transportation access
• Readily accessible to numerous services and supports under one roof
• Low and affordable sq ft rental rates
• Small office space or large office spaces available
• Meeting rooms readily available
• Large workshop/training or meeting space in lower level
• Low cost on-site IT tech support
• Ample parking in the downtown core
• Building maintenance and security
• A building that has significant improvements and upgrades
• Shared common areas.
• Opportunities for organizations to collaborate readily as needed.
• Less dollars dedicated to operational expenses.
• More dollars dedicated to programs and direct services.
CLIENT IMPACT EXAMPLE
A Single parent mother with 3 children visits the Centre for Social Impact for services and supports. After receiving some counselling and being connected to a support group she discovers that there are other services which can offer support for her children. The 8-year-old girl is matched to a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Her two boys are put on a waiting list for a mentor, but are connected to BGC, and become registered in the community-based after school program in Fairview. The impact of this story is that the mother was able to walk into one door and get connected to four organizations offering supports for herself and her children. Agencies will also be able to collaborate more effectively with one another in support of the families and community we all serve.
Recovering addicts from Red Deer Dream Centre brewing up a very unique fundraiser
From the facebook page of the Red Deer Dream Centre addictions treatment facility.
Red Deer’s newest #socialenterprise straight from the #rddc, #dcbrew! Amazing coffee all the while, Helping support men in recovery, one bean at a time.
Order yours today at https://www.rddc.ca/donate/dc-brew-coffee/. #recoveryispossible
The Red Deer Dream Centre is a 40-bed addictions treatment facility where, in an atmosphere of hope and love, people can find life, restore their dignity, and find purpose in living a life in freedom from addictions.
Funeral for two Edmonton police officers shot and killed responding to family dispute
Slain officers’ families issue statements thanking public for support
Canada argues court misconstrued Charter in directing feds to bring men in Syria home
Anti-government protesters in Kenya march in Nairobi streets
Troubled Silicon Valley Bank acquired by First Citizens
Statements from the family members of Constables Travis Jordan and Brett Ryan
N.S. RCMP warn public of dangerous woman with handgun in Sipekne’katik First Nation
National2 days ago
Key recommendations of Nova Scotia mass shooting inquiry
Top Story CP2 days ago
Ex-priest, 93, acquitted of assaulting girl at residential school decades ago
Alberta2 days ago
UCP candidate, slammed for comments on pornography in schools, quits
conflict2 days ago
Russia arrests Wall Street Journal reporter on spying charge
Top Story CP2 days ago
Nova Scotia mass shooting inquiry identifies many RCMP failings, recommends overhaul
RCMP2 days ago
Concerns raised over recommendation to phaseout RCMP police training Depot in Regina
Alberta1 day ago
McDavid enters history books, Skinner shines as Oilers top Kings 2-0
Indigenous2 days ago
Vatican rejects Doctrine of Discovery, a move Indigenous people have long urged