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World Refugee Day Update from MCC Ontario's Executive Director Rick Cober Bauman
A New Normal

Since 2012 agencies like MCC that are Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) with the federal government have been working under a system of caps and allocations. This system was implemented to address the incredible backlog of refugee cases tied up in processing at various visa posts around the world. It was also implemented at a time where far fewer refugees were being allowed into the country. Now that the federal government has reached their target of 25,000 Syrian Refugees, the refugee sponsorship process is once again in a system of capped numbers of refugees coming to Canada and allocations of these refugees across SAHs in Canada. However, refugee intake numbers we are working with are higher than they have been in previous years.

BVOR Update: Right now MCC Ontario is receiving approximately 2 new BVOR profiles to match every 2 weeks. On average, once a match is made, it can take 1 – 4 months for a family to arrive. However, some refugees have been caught up with security and health screening challenges. This is delaying some arrivals. The BVOR program was never designed to handle the volume it is processing so will be paused this coming August and September to undergo a review. To catch up with demand, MCC Ontario has capped its list of groups waiting to be matched with a BVOR profiles and unless things change, the waiting list is capped until January 2017.

Arrivals: New arrivals continue to come – but at a much slower pace. The “new normal” is seeing approximately 2-5 families arrive to Ontario each month (though this can vary). As of March 31st we had 504 arrivals to Ontario.

Focus on Settlement: Given the many newcomers that have arrived in various places across the province, our program focus is shifting to settlement. We want to make sure that the refugee newcomers settle and integrate well into community. We are in the midst of the first round of intentional check-ins with the sponsorship groups that have had arrivals – and for the most part we hear that things are going well. As expected – adult newcomers are primarily focused on language training, children are in schools and all are in the early stages of finding their way around communities.

Echo Cases: Many of the new arrivals have family members who have been left behind. Several sponsorship groups and families have approached MCC to help them find a way to get their family members to Canada. However, MCC’s ability to help in this way is capped and we are not able to take on any more of these “named cases”. As an alternative, we recommend that people consider either the “group of five” or “community sponsorship” options – see info below:

Please be in touch with our office at refugee@mcco.ca if you have questions about this update.

 

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