Private Refugee Sponsorship in Canada - 2021 Market Study
BackgroundCanada is in large measure a country of immigrants, and it stands out globally as a country that has been successful in accepting and integrating large numbers of people arriving from other parts of the world (as economic migrants, reunified family members, and refugees). Refugees to Canada are currently sponsored through one of three resettlement programs: Government Assisted Refugees (GAR), Privately-sponsored Refugees (PSR) and Blended Visa Office-Referred Refugees (BVOR).
The BVOR program is by far the most distinctive of the three because it entails private citizens and non-governmental organizations stepping up to sponsor individuals and families with whom there there was no prior relational connection (e.g., “welcoming the stranger”). Unlike the PSR program (which is highly popular and often over-subscribed), the BVOR program has struggled in some years to fill its annual quota. A primary challenge is the absence of any proactive marketing or promotion to the potential audience of Canadians who might have an interest in participating.
To establish the foundation for effectively promoting private sponsorship, the Environics Institute for Survey Research partnered with Refugee613 to conduct the first-ever research to identify the potential market for private sponsorship of refugees unrelated to the sponsor (“welcoming the stranger”) within the Canadian population.
Given the high profile that refugee resettlement received over the past five or so years, it is not surprising that there is widespread public awareness. More than eight in ten Canadians say they know their country accepts refugees from Syria and other countries for permanent resettlement, and one quarter know or believe there are refugees currently living in their own community.
What is the potential interest in getting involved in sponsoring a refugee or refugee family? Among Canadians in the target population (who have not already become involved), close to one-fifth say they could definitely (2%) or likely (15%) see themselves participating in the program at some point over the next few years. This translates into a pool of approximately four million Canadians who are open to potential recruitment into the program (with more than 450,000 in the “definite” consideration category).
Canadians who would consider getting involved in refugee sponsorship are open to helping in a variety of ways. Among options presented, Canadians expressed the strongest interest in helping with language training and assistance with paperwork, but many also identified such tasks as driving refugees to appointments, helping with education, skills training and finding employment. Some expressed a preference for interacting directly with refugees while others would prefer working in the background, but a plurality say they are fine with taking on both roles.
In conclusion, private sponsorship of refugees in Canada (and the BVOR program in particular) is well positioned to be more actively promoted among Canadians. The reality of refugee resettlement and private sponsorship is well known, and the program is well regarded by most, despite the absence of the type of advertising and communications often employed by governments to promote awareness and support for public-facing programs. The number of Canadians open to considering participation in the program is more than sufficient to provide the basis for addressing the current and future need for BVOR sponsors.
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