COVID-19 challenges refugee work in Canada

Posted Dec 2, 2021

[Anglican Journal] The pandemic has dealt a massive blow to refugee sponsorship in Canada — but there’s some hope things will get easier soon both for those who hope to make Canada their home and those who help them get here, say some Anglican refugee assistance workers.

Tony David, refugee sponsorship coordinator with the Diocese of British Columbia, says trying to sponsor refugees in the time of COVID-19 has meant a “roller coaster” of challenges.

The pandemic has put many practical limitations on churches’ ability to sponsor, he says. Closed churches mean fewer donations, and the events congregations used to rely on to raise money — church dinners, picnics and yard sales — have been made nearly impossible by COVID-19. Meanwhile, the federal government’s Blended Visa Office Referred Program (BVOR), with which private sponsors (church congregations, for example) used to partner to share costs, has been paused since the beginning of the pandemic. Before March 2020, BVOR provided roughly 40% of the settlement costs in these partnerships; now the private sponsors have had to raise all the money themselves.

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