Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis says the federal government is working to bring Syrian refugees to Canada as quickly and safely as possible.
MP Ellis’ comments come in response to a story we told you about on Wednesday where a local sponsor group expressed their frustration with the delay in the process of bringing a three member Syrian family to Belleville.
The group, Belleville Syria Connection formed in 2015 and has committed to sponsor a Syrian Refugee family through the Federal Government’s Blended Visa Program to help them resettle in Belleville and adjust to life in Canada.
Spokeswoman Melissa Wakeling explained how they selected a family, raised $20,000 and attained housing. Shortly after Citizenship and Immigration Canada informed them the family wasn’t travel ready. It was then suggested they choose another family. The group declined the offer. Frustrated with the delay in process and what they call vague and non-committal information from the CIC, the group turned to their member of parliament.
MP Ellis says it’s a timeline and they’ve been working with the ministry to get families to Canada as quickly as possible but couldn’t divulge specific case details.
In a written response to Quinte News the CIC said, “Processing of both government-supported and privately sponsored Syrian refugees has never stopped and refugees have continued to arrive during the past few weeks with more scheduled to arrive in the weeks and months ahead.”
“Due to the overwhelming interest in the Blended Visa Office Referred program during the resettlement initiative the Department decided to offer cases that weren’t yet ready to travel to sponsoring groups with the understanding that there was a chance these cases could ultimately be delayed or refused – sponsors were advised at the time,” the CIC wrote.
“As a result, and in response to repeated requests from some sponsors, Syrian BVOR replacement cases are being offered with priority being given to the smaller number of refused/withdrawn cases, followed by those currently awaiting finalization. We expect that this process will take several months to complete as not every case is suitable for the BVOR program (e.g, cases which high medical needs, extremely large families which exceed the family size sponsors are able to support) and individuals must be ready to travel. Every effort will be made to provide a replacement case with a similar profile of the family originally sponsored.”
“At present, only a small number of replacement cases have been made available. It is important to note that this offer only applies to a small number of cases. There are currently more than140 cases* involving just over 30 sponsoring groups that are affected. Over the next several months, as replacement Syrian BVOR cases become available, the department will be in direct contact with affected sponsors to provide more information. This initiative does not apply to other BVOR cases.”
“BVOR cases that do not have a sponsor revert to government-assisted refugee cases. Those individuals, once their application is finalized, will land in Canada as government-assisted refugees (GARs). It is precisely because we don’t want sponsors to be discouraged that we’ve made this special exception for Syrian BVOR cases. Normally information on BVOR cases is only shared with sponsors when the refugees are ready to travel. This is a unique situation which is why cases were made available for sponsorship in advance of when they normally are.”