Time to Act: Asylum Claimants and Refugees

The global pandemic of COVID-19 has caused many aspects in our lives to be placed on hold, to wait, or to be cancelled all together. For those of us fortunate enough to live in a safe country, with healthcare and security, the pandemic has shaken and altered our day-to-day life, but it has not diminished the plight of refugees.

Asylum seekers and refugee claimants do not have the luxury of time. They can no longer wait for their situations to improve or for their dangers to pass.

As we learn and understand more about COVID-19, we can make plans to allow these individuals entry into Canada while still ensuring that current Canadian residents remain safe.

Asylum seekers and refugee claimants should be seen as essential travel. No one chooses to be a refugee.

Many countries, Canada included, imposed travel bans and closed their borders leaving individuals needing protection with nowhere to go. These individuals belong to the most vulnerable migrant group, fleeing their homelands to join a large, displaced population settling in camps and temporary locations until such a time they can continue their journey to safety.

If You Have Already Sponsored a Refugee

You will be contacted when the individual you are waiting for is ready to travel. You will need to confirm that you are ready to welcome the refugee you are sponsoring as well as provide your quarantine plan to the government.

After arrival, the individual will need to complete their check in with ArriveCAN.

The Arrival Process: How Canada is Keeping People Safe

Currently before refugees leave for Canada, they are given information on how they can monitor their health and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

All individuals must undergo a fitness check to be sure they are fit to fly and screened for any symptoms.

Upon arrival they have a 3-day quarantine period in government-authorized accommodation and are retested (initial test was prior to departure) for COVID-19.

After the 3-day time frame and with a negative test they can then spend the remainder of the 14-day required isolation in your region.

Individuals get support from either their private sponsor or the Resettlement Assistance Program. Once their quarantine time is complete, they can begin to settle into their community.

Given the strict procedures and requirements that each refugee needs to complete, the risk of these individuals arriving in Canada carrying COVID-19 and going undetected is  low.

COVID-19 appears to be a virus that we will have to learn our best how to live with, continue to prevent the spread and keep people safe.

But keeping borders closed to asylum seekers and refugee claimants is not the answer. Canada needs these individuals, and they need us.

Policies and procedures in place can allow these individuals to make Canada their new home and keep those already here protected.