1.B What is Community Sponsorship?
B.1 Community Sponsorship in Brief
Community sponsorship programs allow citizens and permanent residents to directly engage in refugee resettlement efforts. Individuals can form groups to become sponsors who commit to providing financial, emotional, and resettlement support to help newly-arrived refugees integrate into life in a new country. Community sponsorship is an opportunity for governments to work in close partnership with communities in resettling refugees. It can only be effective if there is a true partnership, and both government and community groups will need to commit to working together on everything ranging from high-level program design to the minutiae of resolving challenges with particular cases. Developing a relationship of mutual trust and respect is both one of the biggest challenges and one of the most rewarding aspects of community-based sponsorship programs.
Canada has resettled approximately 300,000 refugees through its Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program since it was introduced in 1979. Hundreds of communities across Canada have benefited by coming together to welcome privately sponsored refugees.
Canada enjoys positive outcomes among many newcomer groups. Statistics Canada reports that the children of refugees and other newcomers outperformed children with Canadian-born parents in terms of high school completion and university completion. Another Statistics Canada analysis shows that a majority of immigrants, including refugees, have a strong sense of belonging to Canada. Research on the Canadian PSR model specifically has shown that refugees resettled with the help of community sponsors also have very positive integration outcomes. For example, within five years of arrival, seventy percent of privately sponsored refugees were earning employment income, according to Statistics Canada. A further analysis reveals that twenty years after arrival (1993-2013 cohort), the median income of privately sponsored refugees is higher than the median Canadian income.
The success of Canada’s private sponsorship program clearly demonstrates that community programs can build powerful bonds between sponsors and refugees, strengthen host communities, and foster positive attitudes towards refugees and resettlement. Canada’s privately sponsored refugees also tend to have relatively early, positive integration and settlement outcomes, thanks in part to the social support they receive from sponsors.