Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Facts and statistics

The Government of Canada has committed to resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees by February 29, 2016.

Last government-organized flight arrives in Toronto

minister-monsef“Welcoming 25,000 refugees in such a short period of time is a shining example of the welcoming spirit of Canadians who have taken on this initiative with open arms and open hearts. Throughout the country, we have seen communities – large and small – embrace newcomers as only Canadians could. This is making a tangible difference in the lives of so many.”

– Hon. Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions and Member, Ad Hoc Committee on Refugees


Progress towards resettlement commitment

27,580 total number of Syrian refugees who have arrived in Canada since November 4, 2015.


Breakdown by category (as of May 29, 2016)

Refugee Category                              Number of Refugees

Government-assisted Refugees                                   15, 412 

Blended Visa-Office Referred Refugees                        2, 405 

Privately Sponsored Refugees                                        9, 763

TOTAL                                                                               29, 580


Welcoming in Canada

27, 580 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada since November 4, 2015 (as of 19 May, 2016)

290 communities across Canada are preparing to welcome Syrian refugees (not including Quebec) (as of March 2, 2016)


 Screening and processing

16,902 refugee resettlement applications in progress (as of March 1, 2016)

2,906 refugee applications have been finalized, but they have not yet travelled to Canada (as of March 1, 2016)


Who is a refugee?

“Refugee” is a legal term. Canadian law uses a definition of ‘refugee’ taken from the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (UNCRSR). According to the UNHCR there are 18.1 million refugees worldwide. Of these, 4.5 million (25%) are Syrian, the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),

refugees are people who have been forced to leave their country and who are afraid to return because of war, violence or persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group


Is there a difference between a refugee and an internally displaced person (IDP)?

Yes. A refugee is someone who has fled their home country and now live elsewhere. An IDP has also been displaced, but has not left their home country. This difference may not seem like much, but it is a big deal for individual refugees and IDPs: a refugee has a legal status and must be protected according to national and international law. IDPs have no such status and are afforded no legal protection until they cross into a foreign country, at which point they become refugees.


How is a refugee different from an immigrant?

An immigrant is someone who has resettled in a foreign country by choice, whereas a refugee has been forced to flee.


How is a refugee different from an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is a someone forced to flee from persecution but who has not yet been granted the legal status ‘refugee’.

Worth thinking about…

Refugees and migrants often described using negative imagery associated with natural disasters. Consider how often you have heard of refugee ‘flows’, ‘floods’ of migrants, ‘waves’ of refugees… Further metaphors include references to ‘Aliens’ in American law. Recently Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron described a “swarm” of migrants. What impact does this imagery have on our attitudes to refugees and migrants who live in our community? (adapted from “Talking About Refugees and Immigrants” – Canadian Council of Refugees)

Click here for more information on the crisis in Syria.

Canada has a long history of welcoming refugees. Sudbury in particular has benefitted enormously from this spirit of hospitality. Click here to learn more about the history and contributions of immigrants and refugees to Sudbury.