More than 327,000 refugees have found safe haven in Canada

More than 327,000 refugees have found safe haven in Canada

In picture: MP Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship speaks with Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce president Rakesh Naidu (not shown) and other members of the local business community in the chamber boardroom Wednesday. NICK BRANCACCIO / WINDSOR STAR


Ottawa, ON – As Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program marks 40 years, Canadians are being celebrated for their immense contributions and dedication to providing a safe haven for vulnerable refugees around the world.

Canada has also become a model for other countries across the globe. The success of the program is a direct result of the extraordinary partnerships and cooperation among Canadian organizations, businesses, governments, communities, and individuals.

Private sponsors have welcomed more than 327,000 refugees since the start of the program in the late 1970s and it is one of the oldest and best-known resettlement programs in the world.

Up until 2016, Canada was the only country in the entire world with such a program. Through the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, sponsorship programs have grown significantly with Argentina, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany now developing or operating new community sponsorship programs for refugees.

Quick facts

  • The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program officially began in 1978 and marked the first time Canadians were able to get involved in the resettlement of vulnerable refugees.
  • Between 1979 and 1980, more than 60,000 people found refuge in Canada after the Vietnam War. Of those, over half were supported by private sponsorship groups.
  • Since 1980, more than 160 communities have welcomed privately sponsored refugees from more than 175 countries.
  • Since 2015, more than half of the 62,000 Syrian refugees who have been resettled to Canada were privately sponsored.
  • Launched in 2016, the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative – a partnership between Canada, the United Nations Refugee Agency, the Open Society Foundations, the Giustra Foundation and the University of Ottawa – aims to increase global refugee resettlement spaces, strengthen host communities, and improve the narrative about refugees by engaging governments and private citizens in refugee sponsorship.

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