Resettling Syrian Refugees in Canada: Challenges Faced by Nongovernmental Service Providers
Between November 2015 and the end of February 2016, the Government of Canada resettled over 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada in response to the Syrian crisis. The Syrian refugee resettlement initiative galvanized the entire country, resulting in collaboration between all levels of government, religious and community groups, private citizens, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Canada’s resettlement program relies heavily on NGOs to provide resettlement services to refugees. This paper focuses on one type of Canadian NGO: Resettlement Assistance Program service provider organizations, or RAP SPOs, who provide government-funded resettlement services to refugees during their first weeks in Canada. During this initiative, RAP SPOs experienced unique challenges while planning for and providing services to Syrian refugees, largely due to the initiative’s large scale and quick pace. Beyond the scale and pace of this initiative, however, structural deficits caused by changes to resettlement policies over the past decades have impacted RAP SPOs and the entire nongovernmental resettlement sector. This paper pays particular attention to social policy trends toward contractualism and neoliberal restructuring of the resettlement sector. It aims to illuminate the impact of these policy trends on the resettlement sector by focusing on challenges RAP SPOs experienced throughout this initiative, including budgetary constraints, inadequate employee training, and difficulty with volunteer management. The RAP SPO experience highlights the importance of ensuring that community service providers have both the time and resources to effectively implement essential humanitarian assistance and resettlement services in order for incoming refugees to thrive throughout the resettlement and integration process.
KeywordsRefugee resettlement Nongovernmental organizations Neoliberalism Public policy
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