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Employability and Integration History Essay Research (Essay Sample)


Government Assisted Refugees: Employability and Integration


Government Assisted Refugees: Employability and Integration
Nicholas Hudson
University of Hawai’i at Mānoa
Government Assisted Refugees: Employability and Integration
1. Introduction and Background
Second only to the United States in the number of refugees resettled each year, Canada has a long history of protecting refugees (CIC, 2011, vii). As a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Refugees, Canada undertakes the responsibility of sponsoring a number of refugees who require settlement in a safe country. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) defines a refugee as someone who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country" (UNHCR website).
Canada enacted the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) on June 28, 2002, changing the focus of refugee selection and placing greater emphasis on the need for protection and less on the ability of a refugee to become established in Canada. IRPA also introduced an “expanded and consolidated” mandate for the country’s refugee determination system. Authors Reekie & Layden-Stevenson (2006) explain how under the former Immigration Act, refugee claimants appeared before a panel of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), where their claims for refugee status were assessed based on the five grounds (race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group and political opinion) in the Refugee Convention. The IRPA expanded the IRB’s jurisdiction and enabled the board to confer refugee protection on both “Convention refugees” and the newly created class of “persons in need of protection.” The new class encompasses claimants whose return to their home country would subject them personally to torture, or would constitute a risk to life, or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. Successful refugee claimants in either class (Convention refugee under section 96, or “person in need of protection” under section 97 of the IRPA) become “protected persons”
under Canadian law and may apply for permanent residence status in Canada (Reekie, J & Layden-Stevenson, 2006).
Unlike the situation with refugee groups such as Landed in Canada Refugees (LCRs) and
Privately-Sponsored Refugees (PSRs), there is an abundance of research and data on Government Assisted Refugees (GARs) due to strong government interests in supporting this particular group and its needs (Hyndman, 2009). This paper will accordingly focus on GARs in British Columbia, though much of the information contained herein will in some ways apply to other refugee groups as well.
To assist GARs, the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) is funded and directed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and administered through Service Provider Organizations (SPOs) such as the Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC). In Study of Income Support Benefits Offered to Government Assisted Refugees Under the Resettlement Assistance Program, authors Siggner, Atkey & Goldberg (2007) explain how RAP is primarily a one-year federal income assistance program designed to assist GARs as they settle and find work in Canada. Despite resettlement assistance, research shows that GARs experience a multitude of challenges in the integration process (Siggner, Atkey & Goldberg, 2007). Our aim is to elucidate the specific challenges GARs face and develop ways to support them accordingly. Ultimately, the goal is for GARs to be integrated. But what does integration mean?
In Research Summary on Resettled Refugee Integration in Canada (2011), Dr. Jennifer Hyndman describes integration as one of the downstream objectives that imputes belonging and participation in a safe country of residence, such as Canada (Hyndman, 2011). Further, successful integration of refugees is said to be linked to achievement and access in a number of
key domains including: employment, housing, education and health (Ager & Strang, 2008). Also

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