Below is a summary of the advocacy ideas shared by John Sewell at a public meeting on March 30, 2016. This summary was prepared by Wilkinson St. David’s Community Sponsor Group member Miriam Zemell-Bloom.
Summary of recent developments:
- The Canadian government has redeployed the extra staff that it had placed in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and here in Canada to process Syrian refugees more quickly, so there is a big slowdown now in the rate at which Syrian refugees will be processed.
- Now, it will take 3 months to process an application in Winnipeg
- There will be no more chartered flights by Gov’t; sponsors will have to pay airfare
- The parliamentary secretary to John McCallum, Arif Virani, attended the meeting, and the news arrived to him during the meeting that any applications submitted by sponsor groups by March 31st would be processed, I think it was by early 2017 or end of 2016.
Step 1: Ideas of what to demand:
- Gov’t guarantee that each sponsorship group receives a family
- Connect spons. Grps with families in hotels in Toronto
–This was countered by someone who said it is more important to get additional families out of danger and into Canada
- Transparency and advance warning – no surprise changes
- Restore augmented capacity/staffing abroad and in Canada to process refugees at faster rate again
- Gov’t acknowledge that the crisis in Syria is still in place and needs to continue to be addressed with urgency
- Expedite approved families
- Sponsorship groups ready to be matched should be matched with a family, and within a reasonable time
- Place sponsored refugees above the quota
- Reinstate payment of airfare and medical for incoming refugees
Step 2: Decide on Your Top 5 Ideas To Fight For:
Step 3: Write a Letter to Mr. McCallum and CC: Mr. Trudeau:
- Paper letters are much much more effective than emails
- At the meeting, we wrote one-page letters on the spot based on the points above and handed them in to John Sewell, who will mail them to Mr. McCallum. You may wish to write you own letter and submit it accordingly.
Additionsl opportunities to advocate:
- Mr. McCallum is coming to Toronto to speak to the C. D. Howe Institute (67 Yonge St.) at noon on Tues. April 5th. Come to a friendly rally outside at 11:30 am. Come with positive signs, e.g. “We Want More Refugees”
- There will be another, small, meeting with John Sewell in 2 weeks time to discuss further action (one member of each sponsor group is encouraged to attend)