We welcome Vincentian Jim Paddon as our latest contributor to the .famvin English site. He will be writing reflections for us twice a month on Thursday afternoons. You can read a little bit about him after his reflection. Thank you Jim!
I would like to provide some updates on how Canada is handling the government approved refugee program, which brought in large numbers of refugees from Syria in 2017. However, let’s first discuss the situation Canada is facing with many desperate people entering illegally from the U.S.A., which in most cases has resulted from the fear of being deported back to their home country due to planned government executive orders. Due to the safe third country agreement between the U.S.A. and Canada, made several years ago, if someone who has already been accepted in the U.S.A. as a refugee tried to enter Canada at a legal border crossing and asked for asylum, Canadian officials would be obligated to turn that person back to the U.S.A. The result is that we have seen asylum seekers crossing into Canada via backroads or simply open countryside. They are then officially arrested and taken to a safe location until their application is examined and either approved or denied. I should mention that not every application is approved.
Regarding Syrian refugees, there were just over 25,000 who entered Canada in 2017. These refugees are provided with temporary accommodations until they can be located into a permanent residence. This has been an issue with many refugees still being housed in hotels but at least we are working towards a solution to this issue. Every refugee is provided with a free medical examination, required vaccinations, disease treatment and prescription drugs, vision care and urgent dental care. It is also interesting to note that all refugees can receive treatment for PTSD, where 20% of the children require such treatment.
I think the most unique aspect of the Syrian refugee program is about 8500 of the 25,000 are what is called private sponsorship. This is usually where a local church or faith group takes on the commitment of at least one year’s expense for an average family of four. One year can add up to about $25,000 to $30,000. This program certainly demonstrates what it means to develop and sustain an on-going relationship with a refugee family.
It will prove very interesting over the coming years to see how these Syrian families as well as those other refugees entering illegally will adapt to this new country and home in Canada. I think these programs demonstrate what it means to place an emphasis on a person’s human dignity.
The term Dreamers is certainly one that we hear a lot about here in Canada. I think that the recent experiences we have in the high volume of refugees hoping to live here as well those entering via the Syrian refugee program only helps to demonstrate how important it is to any human being to be able to “dream” about a better life whether it be in the U.S.A., Canada or in their home country. May we all Dream about a world where this dream is a human right for all.
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.