Summative Evaluation of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

Final Report
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
April 2007


Executive Summary

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Structure of the Report

1.2 Background

2.0 Evaluation Issues and Methodology

2.1 Evaluation Question and Issues

2.2 Methodology

2.3 Limitations of the Methodology

3.0 Evaluation Findings

3.1 Relevance

3.2 Program Integrity

3.3 Resettlement Success

3.4 Cost-Effectiveness

4.0 Overall Conclusions

PSR Evaluation Management Response


Executive Summary

Introduction

This is the final report on the evaluation study of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) Program, one of two programs administered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to assist in the resettlement of refugees. The PSR Program assists refugees living abroad to build new lives in Canada through sponsorship by Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Under this program, private sponsors commit to provide assistance and support to refugees for their first year of residence in Canada. Under the second CIC refugee resettlement program, the Government Assisted Refugee (GAR) Program, refugees are supported by the Government of Canada,[note 1] for up to one year from the date of arrival in Canada, and support services are delivered by CIC-supported non-governmental agencies.

The objective of the study was to evaluate the program in terms of continued relevance, success in achieving its desired outcomes, and cost-effectiveness.[note 2] This report presents the evaluation findings according to the four key themes that emerged: relevance, program integrity, resettlement success and cost-effectiveness.

The PSR Program

Canada has a proud history of opening its doors to people from around the world and providing safe haven to those in need of protection. The PSR Program, which arose out of the 1976 Immigration Act and was implemented in 1978, introduced private sponsorship as a new vehicle for Canadians to become involved in resettling refugees. The program has since played a significant role in the resettlement of refugees from across the globe.

Since its inception, the PSR Program has contributed to the resettlement of over 195,000 refugees and persons in refugee-like situations, who otherwise might not have been able to come to Canada. In recent years the targets for the PSR Program have ranged from 2,800 to 4,000 landings annually.

The PSR Program forms a unique partnership between the Government of Canada and the sponsoring groups. Whereas CIC facilitates a refugee’s arrival in Canada, sponsors commit to providing care, lodging, settlement assistance and financial support to the refugee.

There are several methods through which sponsors can participate in the Program. CIC Headquarters approves individual sponsorship agreements with incorporated organizations called Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) interested in sponsoring refugees, either directly through their own organizations or through their constituent groups (CGs). A CG is a group authorized in writing by the SAH to act on its behalf in sponsoring refugees. SAHs and CGs form the majority of sponsors, approximately 85 percent. There are currently 87 SAHs, the majority of which are either faith-based organizations, ethno-cultural groups, or humanitarian organizations.

Other vehicles for sponsoring refugees include forming a group of five or more Canadian citizens (known as a G5) to supply the necessary financial resources, expertise, and commitment required to fulfill the terms of the sponsorship undertaking, or sponsoring through Community Sponsorship (comprised of an organization, or group of people, located in the community where the refugee is expected to settle).

Under the PSR Program, refugees are identified either by the CIC visa offices, or by sponsoring groups. There are three classes of persons who may be eligible under the PSR Program. They are: the Convention Refugees Abroad Class (CR), the Country of Asylum Class (RA) and the Source Country Class (RS).[note  3]

Canadian visa offices overseas process applications for permanent residence and are responsible for making the final decision on whether an individual fits one of the three designated classes and is therefore eligible for resettlement. To be accepted for resettlement in Canada the applicant must also pass medical and security checks, which are normally conducted overseas. If the applicant meets all eligibility and admissibility criteria, the visa office will issue a permanent resident visa.

Evaluation Conclusions

Program Relevance

The PSR Program is aligned with the Government of Canada’s and CIC’s objectives of upholding Canada’s humanitarian tradition in the resettlement of refugees and providing protection of those in need.  The Program is also clearly aligned with CIC refugee protection mandate, which is derived from the 2002 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). Furthermore, the PSR Program supports the CIC strategic outcome of Successful integration of newcomers and promotion of Canadian citizenship, which is a cornerstone of the department’s Program Activity Architecture (PAA).

Canada has chosen to offer protection to refugees, in part for humanitarian reasons, but also to meet its international responsibilities. In addition to protecting refugees on Canadian soil, Canada is one of 16 countries that take part in United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) resettlement programs and accepts quotas for refugees on an annual basis. For 2005, the capacity of these countries to resettle refugees was approximately 80,000, including some 30,500 who were resettled with UNHCR assistance. CIC officials, sponsors and third-party representatives interviewed as part of this evaluation suggested that the need for refugee resettlement is great. Many interviewees believe that Canada is making a positive contribution to that need; however, some were of the opinion that more could be done.

In 2002, Canada endorsed the UNHCR’s Agenda for Protection, which focuses on activities to strengthen international protection of asylum-seekers and refugees. The PSR Program is particularly aligned with two objectives of the Agenda for Protection, which are: “strengthened partnerships for protection with civil society, including NGOs” and “provision of complementary forms of protection to those who might not fall within the scope of the United Nation’s 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, but require international protection.”

Program Integrity

Information collected during the evaluation showed that the PSR Program is, as intended, offering protection to refugees through private sponsorship. Since 1979, private sponsorship has facilitated the resettlement of over 195,000 refugees, with annual targets between 2,800 and 4,000 landings.

A number of evaluation findings related to the administration of the PSR Program suggest that current monitoring activities are insufficient:

The lists of CGs and G5s maintained by CIC were found to be incomplete and out-of-date. Similarly, the SAH list used for survey administration was out-of-date and there appeared to be substantial duplication between the three lists. While this can be explained, at least in part, by the structure and flexibility of the Program (e.g. SAHs have the authority to identify as many CGs as they like), it means that CIC does not have full knowledge of its sponsoring groups.

SAHs sign a sponsorship agreement with CIC and are required to submit an annual report detailing their activities. However, SAHs set their own criteria for recognizing and working with CGs. G5s have no formal agreement or reporting requirements in place with CIC. Information from the interviews and surveys indicated that little formal monitoring of sponsors or refugees is conducted by CIC offices; or by SAHs of CGs or refugees. There was evidence that some informal monitoring of refugees by the SAHs is occurring through their personal involvement with the refugees or sponsors.

The internal administrative data maintained by CIC is inconsistent; for example, numbers obtained from the Data Warehouse on particular variables was different from those derived from CAIPS for the same variables). It is also incomplete; for instance, the Program does not collect data on why PSR applicants are refused. Without accurate and comprehensive data, it is difficult to assess how well the Program is actually operating.

Increasing submission volumes and high refusal rates have contributed to delays in processing times and created a cumbersome application inventory, all of which impact on program efficiency and effectiveness.

Sponsors are submitting high volumes of applications – twice the number of CIC targets. This volume has impacted on PSR inventory levels and the time it takes to process applications, both of which have increased in recent years. A review of submission statistics between 2004 and 2006 showed that a small population of SAHs was responsible for a disproportionate volume of sponsorship applications being submitted. As for G5s, the intention is that five people would form a group and sponsor a refugee as a one-time event. While G5s are submitting fewer applications for sponsorship than SAHs, they are submitting more than intended by the program.

The refusal rate for PSR applications is high. While SAHs are doing a preliminary assessment of applications for program eligibility and have access to training and resources, the refusal rate for the program has averaged 49 percent since 1998. Thus CIC is required to process twice as many applications to reach program targets, which impacts on program efficiencies. This could be a factor in CIC’s inability to meet its program targets every year.

An examination of the distribution of refusal rates demonstrated that the majority of CGs (57 percent) actually have very low refusal rates, comparable to the refusal rate of GARs. However, this group is also submitting a very small percentage of the overall applications (14 percent). The remaining CGs (43 percent), whose refusal rates are higher than those of GARs, are submitting the majority of sponsorship applications (86 percent of all applications in 2005). It is this combination of high volumes of applications and relatively high refusal rates that is causing the overall refusal rate for PSRs to be so high. This analysis suggests that the majority of SAHs are able to understand and successfully assess the applicant’s eligibility, but that some – generally those who are submitting larger volumes of applications – are less effective at doing so.

Processing times have doubled in the past 4 years; in 2001, it took 17 months to process 80 percent of cases. In 2005, the number of months required to process 80 percent of cases had increased to 35 months, which represents a significant waiting time for a protection program. CIC has taken steps to address processing times, having completed some temporary duty assignments to address inventory levels, has started to limit SAH agreements as they expire and are renewed, and through the NGO Sub-Committee, has requested that SAHs voluntarily reduce their number of applications for sponsorship.

Resettlement Success

Sponsoring groups agree to provide the refugees with care, lodging, settlement assistance and support for the duration of the sponsorship period. The evaluation showed that, overall, sponsors have been successful in meeting the immediate needs of refugees and are providing support to refugees over the course of the sponsorship, and even sometimes beyond the one-year period.

Sponsors suggested that their biggest challenges are in meeting any unexpected needs of refugees, and finding adequate and affordable housing. It can also be a challenge for sponsors to assist the refugee with accessing health care services. Refugees listed different issues as key challenges to settlement. They are having the most difficulty with gaining employment and with improving language skills. While privately sponsored refugees are working, often very quickly upon arrival, many of those in the focus groups indicated they are not working in jobs for which they have training or previous experience. Focus group participants also indicated that they frequently obtain employment out of necessity, either because they are reluctant to accept support from their sponsors, who are often family members, or because their sponsor may not be able to fully support the refugee.

The study also compared the settlement success of privately sponsored refugees to government-assisted refugees. There are no noteworthy differences in the success of PSRs and GARs in terms of having their immediate needs met and there are no sizeable differences in incidences of employment income and employment earnings over time (i.e. after three years). The key difference between PSRs and GARs is that PSRs become self-supporting far more quickly than GARs: a higher percentage of PSRs had employment earnings during the first three years after arrival, than was the case for GARs; and the average employment earnings of PSRs was $6,000 greater than that for GARs in the first year after arrival, but diminished to a difference of about $1,000 by the third year.

Cost-Effectiveness

In assessing the cost-effectiveness of the PSR Program, the operating costs for the PSR Program were compared to the GAR program. Operating budgets from 2004-2005 showed that the GAR program had a much larger operating budget than the PSR Program. This is due, in part, to the fact that the number of GARs coming to Canada annually is two-to-three times higher than the number of PSRs; and to the fact that the Federal Government provides GARs with 12 months of direct income support, as well as funds other settlement services for GARs. The operating budget for the PSR program is much smaller than GAR because the Federal Government only bears the costs for administering the program, while the private sponsors assume all of the direct costs required to settle a refugee, including financial support.

Data from 2004-2005 showed that, on a per application basis, the PSR program was more expensive to administer than the GAR program and that a large proportion of salary costs for the PSR Program were used for in-land processing (i.e., in Canada).

The evaluation also examined the level of financial support provided to PSRs compared to GARs over a 12-month period. The evidence showed that private sponsors provide less direct financial support to PSRs than the government provides to GARs, although sponsors often provide refugees with “in-kind” support that would otherwise have to be purchased. As discussed in the previous section, despite the fact that PSRs receive less financial support than GARs, their resettlement success seems comparable.

1.0 Introduction

This is the final report on the evaluation of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) Program, one of two programs administered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to assist in the resettlement of refugees. The PSR Program assists refugees abroad to build new lives in Canada through sponsorship by Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Under this program, the private sponsors commit to provide assistance and support to refugees for their first year of residence in Canada. Under the second CIC refugee resettlement program, the Government Assisted Refugee (GAR) Program, the refugees are supported by the Government of Canada,[note 4] for up to one year from the date of arrival in Canada, and support services are delivered by CIC-supported non-governmental agencies.

As part of ongoing efforts to ensure the continued integrity and effectiveness of the PSR Program, CIC commissioned Government Consulting Services (GCS) to conduct a summative evaluation of the PSR program. Specifically, the objective of the study was to evaluate the program in terms of continued relevance, success in achieving its desired outcomes as identified in the Results-based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF), and cost-effectiveness. The research for this evaluation was conducted between July and September 2006.

1.1 Structure of the Report

Over the course of this evaluation, a number of key themes emerged. Given the high importance of these themes, and because they are strongly inter-related, this report presents the evaluation findings by four themes: program relevance, program integrity, resettlement success, and cost effectiveness.

The report is organized into four sections: Section 1 contains background information about the PSR Program; Section 2 provides information on the evaluation including questions, methodology, and limitations; Section 3 presents the evaluation findings by theme; and Section 4 presents overall conclusions. GCS also prepared a supplemental document to this evaluation report, that contains materials used for the evaluation study, including the evaluation matrix, list of interviewees, documents reviewed, interview guides and surveys.

1.2 Background

1.2.1   History of the PSR Program

Canada has a proud history of opening its doors to people from around the world and providing safe haven to those in need of protection. In fact, Canada received worldwide recognition for its leadership in resettling refugees when, in 1986, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) awarded the Nansen Medal to the “People of Canada”, acknowledging their major contribution to the cause of refugees.[note  5]

The PSR Program, which arose out of the 1976 Immigration Act and was implemented in 1978, introduced private sponsorship as a new vehicle for Canadians to become involved in resettling refugees and has since played a significant role in the resettlement of refugees from across the globe.

Canada’s first opportunity to display its support through this program was during the Indochinese resettlement movement in 1979 and 1980, when over 34,000 privately sponsored refugees were brought to Canada. Following this movement, sponsors quickly realized that sponsorship was a flexible mechanism that could be used to help refugees from other parts of the world.

Over the history of the Program, the relationship between the government and the sponsoring community has continued to evolve. A combination of international events, legislative changes, government requests, and desire on behalf of individual Canadians to assist refugees has shaped the approaches and mechanisms that currently exist for the resettlement of refugees in Canada. Figure 1 presents a chronological list of milestones, which have helped to shape the PSR Program.

Since 1979, the PSR Program has contributed to the resettlement of over 195,000 refugees and persons in refugee-like situations, who otherwise might not have been able to come to Canada. In recent years the targets for the PSR Program have ranged from 2,800 to 4,000 landings per year, while the targets for the GAR program have remained stable at 7,500 landings per year.

Figure 1. Chronological History of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

History of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

1978 Implementation of the Immigration Act, which introduced private sponsorship as a new mechanism for individuals to be involved in resettling refugees.

1979 - 1980 Indochinese resettlement movement. Over 60,000 Indochinese refugees were resettled in Canada in 1979 and 1980. Thirty-four thousand of them were privately sponsored.

1986 Award of the UNHCR Nansen medal to the People of Canada in “recognition of their major and sustained contribution to the cause of refugees”.

1994 Creation of the NGO-Government Committee on the Private Sponsorship of Refugees, comprised of six SAH representatives and six CIC representatives. The Committee provides a forum for government and SAHs to consult, discuss and make decisions on broader policy and operational issues.

1994 - 1998 Project FOCUS Afghanistan, whereby some 1,800 Afghan Ismaili refugees were successfully settled in Canada. This project was the first example of a “blending” of government and private resources and was viewed as a cost-effective use of government resources.

1997 Negotiation of a new Sponsorship Agreement, to replace the existing “Master Agreement”.

1998 Introduction of the Humanitarian Designated Classes, including the Country of Asylum class, thereby expanding the categories of people eligible for resettlement.

1998 The report of the Legislative Review Advisory Group (“Not Just Numbers”) was released. The three-person advisory group had been commissioned to come up with proposals for a new Immigration Act.

1998 Creation of the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP).

1999 Arrival of over 7,000 Kosovar refugees evacuated from Macedonia, under UNHCR’s Humanitarian Evacuation Program.

2002 Introduction of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which allowed for greater flexibility and access with respect to who can participate in private sponsorship outside of the SAH network.

2002 Establishment of the Winnipeg Private Refugee Sponsorship Assistance Program, whereby the City of Winnipeg set aside $250,000 of municipal funds as an assurance fund to encourage sponsorship.

2003 Arrival of the first group of refugees selected to come to Canada through group processing. Canada and the UNHCR identified entire refugee populations and resettled these populations in the same community. In this year, two groups of refugees, 30 Sudanese and 17 Somalis, arrived in Canada from the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.

2005 Creation of the NGO-Government Sub-Committee, a sub-set of the NGO-Government Committee. The Sub-Committee is comprised of representatives from the sponsorship community, and meets more frequently than the NGO-Government Committee. The responsibility of the Sub-Committee is similar to that of the Government Committee, however the Sub-Committee focuses on more specific operational and policy issues and brings these issues to the NGO-Government Committee.

1.2.2 Organization of the PSR Program

On an annual basis, an immigration plan for the forthcoming year is presented to Parliament. Within this plan, CIC determines a target range for the number of refugees to be brought to Canada under the PSR Program. This range is determined by previous years’ ranges, visa office resources, the number of refugees supported via the GAR program, and international crises events.

The PSR Program forms a unique partnership between the Government of Canada and the sponsoring groups. CIC Headquarters, and in particular the Refugees Branch, is responsible for establishing the policies and framework for the PSR Program. Whereas CIC facilitates the refugee’s arrival in Canada, sponsors commit to providing care, lodging, settlement assistance and financial support to the refugee for up to one year after arrival. In special cases, the sponsorship period can be extended for up to 36 months, with the sponsors’ agreement.

There are several methods through which sponsors can participate in the Program. CIC Headquarters approves individual sponsorship agreements with incorporated organizations called Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) interested in sponsoring refugees either through their own organizations or through their constituent groups (CGs). A CG is a group authorized in writing by the SAH to act on its behalf in sponsoring refugees.

SAHs and CGs form the majority of sponsors, with approximately 85 percent of sponsorships falling into this category.[note 6] There are currently 87 SAHs, the majority of which are either faith-based organizations, ethno-cultural groups, or humanitarian organizations. No public funding supports the administration of sponsorships. A SAH can authorize CGs to sponsor under its agreement, with each SAH setting its own criteria for accepting CGs, and ultimately assuming overall responsibility for the management of sponsorships under its agreements. Other vehicles for sponsoring refugees include: forming a group of five or more Canadian citizens (known as a G5) to supply the necessary financial resources, expertise, and commitment required to fulfill the terms of the sponsorship undertaking; or sponsoring through Community Sponsorship (comprised of an organization, or group of people, located in the community where the refugee is expected to settle). All sponsors are responsible for verifying that any applications submitted are for individuals who meet the eligibility criteria, as defined below.

A key resource available to sponsoring groups is the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP), which was created in 1998. The program is operated through the SAH community, with funding from CIC, and provides training and ongoing information about all aspects related to the sponsorship of refugees.

A second mechanism that supports the work of the sponsorship community is the NGO-Government Committee on the Private Sponsorship of Refugees. This Committee was created in 1994, and seeks to enhance communication and coordination among all partners involved in the Program by creating a forum to allow for the exchange of information, and to contribute to more effective horizontal program management and delivery. The Committee is comprised of approximately 12 members: six SAH representatives and six CIC representatives, with a SAH representative and a CIC representative as co-chairs of the Committee.

Under the PSR Program, refugees are identified either by visa offices, or by sponsoring groups. The group may have obtained the referral from an overseas contact, a friend, a relative of a member of the organization, or elsewhere. There are three classes of persons who may be eligible under the PSR Program. They are the Convention Refugees Abroad Class (CR), the Country of Asylum Class (RA) and the Source Country Class (RS).[note 7]

A Convention refugee is any person who, by reason of a well-founded fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion,

  • is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country; or
  • not having a country of nationality, is outside the country of his or her former habitual residence and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to return to that country.

A Convention Refugee Abroad is any person who:

  • is a Convention refugee;
  • is outside Canada;
  • is seeking resettlement in Canada;
  • does not have a prospect of another durable solution, within a reasonable period of time, that is:
    • cannot return to his or her country of nationality or habitual residence;
    • cannot integrate in the country of refuge or the country of first asylum; and
    • does not have another offer of resettlement from a country other than Canada;
  • will be privately sponsored or assisted by the government or has adequate financial resources to support himself or herself and any dependants.

A member of the Country of Asylum Class is a person:

  • who is outside his or her country of citizenship or habitual residence;
  • who has been, and continues to be, seriously and personally affected by civil war or armed conflict or who has suffered massive violations of human rights;
  • for whom there is no possibility of finding an adequate solution to his or her situation within a reasonable period of time; and
  • who will be privately sponsored or who has adequate financial resources to support himself or herself and any dependants.

A member of the Source Country Class is a person:

  • who resides in his or her country of citizenship or habitual residence;
  • who has been and continues to be seriously and personally affected by civil war or armed conflict;
  • who has suffered serious deprivation of his or her right of freedom of expression, right of dissent or right to engage in trade union activity and who has been detained or imprisoned as a consequence;
  • who fears persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion;
  • for whom there is no possibility of finding an adequate solution to his or her situation within a reasonable period of time;
  • who resides in a country that has been designated as a source country (refer to Schedule 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations); and
  • who will be privately sponsored or assisted by the government or who has adequate financial resources to support himself or herself and any dependants.

Local CIC offices are the main points of contact for sponsoring groups with regard to processing and settlement issues related to private sponsorships. Upon receipt of a sponsorship application, the local office will review the sponsorship undertaking to ensure that it is complete and that the sponsoring group meets the eligibility requirements. It also forms the point of contact between the sponsoring group and the Canadian visa office overseas, providing the sponsoring group with processing updates and information regarding any decisions or issues related to the application.

Canadian visa offices overseas process applications for permanent residence, and are responsible for making the final decision on whether an individual fits one of the three designated classes and is therefore eligible for resettlement. The eligibility decision is based on an interview with the applicant, supporting documentation submitted by the applicant and sponsoring group and additional information available to the officer (such as country condition updates). To be accepted for resettlement in Canada, the applicant must also pass medical and security checks, which are normally conducted overseas. In addition, applicants will be assessed on their ability to establish successfully in Canada. Applicants deemed by the visa officer to be in urgent need of protection or in vulnerable circumstances are not assessed on their ability to establish.

If the applicant meets all eligibility and admissibility criteria, the visa office will issue a permanent resident visa and provide the refugee with orientation and travel information, in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).[note 8]

2.0 Evaluation Issues and Methodology

This section of the report presents a summary of the evaluation questions and methodology, including limitations.

2.1 Evaluation Question and Issues

The study was conducted using an evaluation matrix developed by the CIC Evaluation team in November 2004. During the planning phase for this evaluation, in April 2006, the evaluation matrix was revised to identify the key issues, indicators, and data sources to be examined during the evaluation. In addition, the outputs and outcomes in the original logic model, also completed in November 2004, were updated to reflect changes in the program that have occurred since that time. See Appendix A for the logic model and Appendix B for the evaluation matrix.

The evaluation questions were organized into the three issue areas of relevance, program success, and cost-effectiveness and alternatives and were assessed through 14 evaluation questions. Table 1 provides a summary of the evaluation questions explored in each of the three issue areas and also indicates under which theme and section of the report they are addressed.

Table 1. Summary of Evaluation Questions
Evaluation Issue Evaluation Question Related Themes
Relevance Are there still refugees overseas in need of resettlement? Relevance

3.1.2 (Link to International Priorities)
Is the PSR Program consistent with CIC and GoC priorities? Relevance

3.1.1 (Alignment of Government of Canada Objectives)

3.1.2 (Link to International Priorities)
Success (Immediate Outcomes) To what extent does the volunteer community have the capacity to undertake sponsorships? Program Integrity

3.2.1 (Refugee Sponsorship)
To what extent is the sponsorship community well equipped to fulfill their roles and responsibilities? Program Integrity

3.2.4 (Referral Process, Assessing Refugee Eligibility, and Refusal Rates)
Is the sponsorship community aware of current CIC policies and issues with respect to refugee resettlement?
Are the immediate needs of sponsored refugees met? Resettlement Success

3.3.1 (Resettlement Assistance

3.3.2 (Challenges of Resettlement)
Are privately-sponsored refugees arriving in Canada in a timely manner? Program Integrity

3.2.4 (Expanded Definition of Refugee Eligibility)
Success (Intermediate Outcomes) Do CIC and the sponsorship community operate in an effective and collaborative manner? Program Integrity

3.2.2 (Collaboration between CIC and SAHs)
Is there continued program integrity? Program Integrity

All subsections of 3.2
To what extent do sponsors facilitate refugee resettlement into society? Resettlement Success

3.3.1 (Resettlement Assistance

3.3.2 (Challenges of Resettlement)
Success (Ultimate Outcomes) To what extent are privately sponsored refugees integrated into Canadian society? Resettlement Success

3.3.3 (Level of Integration

3.4.3 (PSR Resettlement Success Compared to GAR)
  Is the operation of the PSR Program cost-effective? Cost-Effectiveness

3.4.2 (Income Support Provided to Refugees)
Are costs in line with what would be expected in other similar programs?

Are resources used efficiently?
Cost-Effectivenes

3.4.1 (Operating Costs for the PSR Program)

2.2 Methodology

The evaluation was designed to use multiple lines of evidence that were both qualitative and quantitative in nature. A brief description of each of these sources follows. See Appendix C for more detailed information on these methodologies.

A document review template was used to capture relevant information from the documents according to the indicators in the evaluation matrix. Documents reviewed for this evaluation are listed in Appendix D. These included, but were not limited to:

  • general documents such as the Report on Plans and Priorities, UNHCR reports, and academic studies;
  • program-specific documents such as the Results-Based Management and Accountability Framework; and
  • operational documents, including processing manuals, database manuals, sponsorship agreements, meeting minutes, terms of reference.

Interviews

Forty-one interviews were conducted with 43 PSR Program stakeholders. Interviews were conducted by telephone or in-person. Interview guides were provided to all interviewees in advance of the interviews. The breakdown of interviewees is shown in Table 2 (see Appendix E for a list of interviewees and Appendix F for the interview guides used).

Table 2. Number of Interviewees, by Stakeholder Group
Stakeholder Group Number of Interviews[note 9]
CIC Headquarters 8
CIC Regional Offices 4
CIC Local Offices 4
CIC Visa Offices 8[note 10]
Sponsorship Agreement Holders 10
National and International Refugee Organizations 3
Refugee Sponsorship Training Program 1
GAR Program Representatives 3
Total 41

Surveys

Three surveys were administered to collect data for the evaluation (See Appendix G for the surveys). Online surveys were administered to all 26 local CIC offices that deal with PSR cases and all 88 Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs).[note 11]  A total of 21 responses were received from the local offices (81 percent response rate) and a total of 45 responses were received from SAHs (51 percent response rate).

A telephone survey was administered to Constituent Groups (CGs) and Groups of Five (G5s) that submitted a sponsorship application between January 1, 2001 and May 30, 2006. A total of 1136 Constituent Groups and 2730 Groups of Five were on the initial lists used to conduct the telephone surveys. Note that the eligible population [i.e., the numbers remaining once invalid numbers are removed (e.g., telephone line disconnected, wrong number, refusals to participate)] for both groups, was over 50 percent less than the original population. See Table 3 for survey response rates for all survey groups.

Table 3. Survey Response Rates, by Group
Group Eligible Population Completed Response Rate
Local CIC Offices 26 21 81%
Sponsorship Agreement Holders 88 45 51%
Constituent Groups 497 231 46%
Groups of Five 1082 230 21%

Data Analysis

Three database sources were used during the evaluation: administrative, longitudinal, and cost management.

Administrative Databases

Two primary administrative databases are currently used by CIC to track private sponsorships: Field Operations Support System (FOSS), which is used for the in-Canada component of sponsorship processing, and Computer Assisted Immigration Processing System (CAIPS), which is used by visa officers overseas. During the course of the evaluation, GCS worked with CIC Operations Branch to obtain data from CAIPS, and with analysts in Data Warehouse Services to obtain information from data cubes, which draws information from both CAIPS and FOSS.

Longitudinal Databases

Two longitudinal databases, both managed by Statistics Canada, are primary sources of data on Canadian immigrants: the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC)[note 12] and the Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB).[note 13] GCS obtained information from both of these databases to assess outcomes of the PSR Program.

The Cost Management Model

CIC’s Finance Branch created a Cost Management Model to provide a means to organize cost data within a business process and outputs structure, to help understand the true cost of doing business at a detailed unit level (i.e., fund centre) and at a strategic departmental or portfolio level. GCS worked with the CIC Cost Management Group to gather financial information on the PSR and GAR programs.

Focus Groups with Refugees

A total of 10 focus groups were held with privately-sponsored refugees that arrived in Canada between June 2003 and June 2006. Sessions were held in Ottawa (1), Calgary (3), Winnipeg (2), and the Greater Toronto Area (4). The sessions were organized according to language of origin and landing city. Interpreters were engaged to organize and facilitate the sessions and to also administer a short survey to participants upon confirmation of their participation. A total of 42 participants attended the sessions (see Table 4 for a summary of the focus group locations, language of session, and number of participants). See Appendix H for the focus group materials and survey.

Table 4. Focus Group Summary
City Language of Session Number of Participants
Ottawa Dari 5
Calgary Amharic 4
Somali 2
Tigranya 2
Winnipeg Oromo 7
Amharic 11
Toronto Assyrian 4
Chaldean 6
Krio 0
Dari 1
Total   42

Overall Analysis

To complete the overall analysis of evaluation findings, GCS developed a set of evidence matrices. Findings for each indicator were input into a matrix according to the data source used. The individual matrices for each data source were then rolled into a summary of all of the findings.

2.3 Limitations of the Methodology

There were some limitations to the methodology; specifically, data quality and availability and accuracy of stakeholder contact information.

Data Quality and Availability

Administrative Databases

Initial data for most indicators was provided from 1994 to present and in some cases, additional information (i.e., landings data) was provided from 1980 to present. This information was largely drawn from CIC data cubes.

Upon reviewing the information received, there was a question of the reliability of the data due to the fact it was not consistent with some of the information received from program staff. Because of the uncertainty of this data, GCS received data generated directly from CAIPS. While this data seemed more reliable, CAIPS was not able to generate any data pre-1998. There were also data availability issues with respect to certain indicators (e.g., reasons for ineligibility), largely due to the systems not being designed to capture this information. Any data reliability and unavailability issues are noted within the body of the evaluation report.

Longitudinal Databases

LSIC provided limited information on early settlement experiences for privately sponsored refugees due to the restricted sample size of privately sponsored refugees in the LSIC.

CIC Cost Management Model

Financial information from the CIC Cost Management Model was captured by CIC Fund Centre managers in May 2005 for Fiscal Year 2004-2005. It is important to note that because only one year of data was available, there were no opportunities to compare the information with data from other years of the program.

Survey Data (SAHs and CGs/G5s)

While conducting the telephone survey of CGs and G5s, it was discovered that there is some overlap between the CGs and the SAHs. An individual involved in a SAH could also be involved with a CG; however, a CG may list an individual from the SAH purely for contact purposes. In the latter case, there was some confusion as to whether the individual should be responding to the survey. While two survey responses were removed after learning that an individual at the SAH, who had no involvement with the CG, responded to the survey, it is uncertain how many more similar cases there were. Consultation with the firm indicated that this was not a widespread problem; however, there was no way to confirm this.

For the SAH survey, 22 of the 45 organizations that responded were able to provide information on the financial support provided to refugees during their last complete year of operations. For the CG/G5 survey, there were 323 responses (of 461 respondents) to this survey question, however the range of financial support provided varied greatly (i.e., between $100 and $47,000). The surveys were self-administered and some interpretation of the questions and the instructions could have resulted in some inconsistencies in the data. To reduce the risk of errors, only median numbers were calculated.

Stakeholder Contact Information

There were also some limitations regarding stakeholder contact information. The lists provided for CGs and G5s were incomplete, with records often missing contact information. This population also proved to be difficult to reach (e.g., numbers out of service, no answer). To address these issues, substantial cleansing of the lists was done to ensure that only complete records were provided to the firm. The firm was also required to perform eight call-backs for each record, and conducted the survey during evenings and weekends, in order to reach the greatest possible number of people. Despite these mitigating strategies, the firm was not able to reach the target numbers for completed surveys.

The SAH list used for survey administration was also out of date. After an initial low response rate to the survey (26 of 88 responded), GCS completed a round of calling to all 88 SAHs to ensure that the survey was received and to see if there were any difficulties in completing it. During this process, GCS spoke with 49 representatives and found that most either did not receive the survey, or did not remember receiving it.[note  14]  The survey was re-sent to 24 of the 49 representatives contacted. After this process, the survey response rate increased to 45 of 88 (51 percent).

Privately sponsored refugees were a difficult population to reach. Often, when a refugee arrives in Canada, permanent accommodation has not been arranged and therefore, the contact information in the CIC system is either left blank or the information of the sponsor is recorded instead. This population also moves frequently, either within their original city of landing or between provinces. Therefore, interpreters had to rely on sponsors to provide contact information for refugees or use alternate means (such the telephone book and the internet) to locate the refugees. The focus group attendance rates also suggested reluctance on the part of refugees to participate in the session. While just over 100 refugees were expected during the ten sessions, a total of 42 actually participated. Although these numbers are low, the information gathered across the sessions was consistent and GCS is confident in using the data to support the evaluation.

3.0 Evaluation Findings

This section of the report presents a summary of the evaluation findings, which are organized by four themes: relevance, program integrity, resettlement success, and cost-effectiveness.

3.1 Relevance

3.1.1 Alignment to Government of Canada Objectives

The PSR Program is aligned with the Government of Canada’s and CIC’s objectives with respect to upholding Canada’s humanitarian tradition and offering protection to those in need.

The formal objectives of the PSR Program are twofold:[note 15]

Primary Objective: To enhance Canada’s capacity to protect refugees in need.

Secondary Objective: To facilitate the capability of Canada’s voluntary sector in assisting those in need of protection through resettlement.

These objectives contribute to upholding Canada’s humanitarian tradition in the resettlement of refugees and persons in “refugee-like” situations. They are also clearly aligned with the refugee protection mandate of CIC, which is derived from IRPA, enacted in 2002. With respect to refugees, the objectives of IRPA include:[note 16]

  • “To recognize that the refugee program is in the first instance about saving lives and offering protection to the displaced and persecuted”; and
  • “To fulfill Canada’s international legal obligations with respect to refugees and affirm Canada’s commitment to international efforts to provide assistance to those in need of resettlement”

In addition, the objectives of the PSR Program clearly continue to support CIC’s vision of “[attracting and welcoming] people from all parts of the world […] to protect those in need of Canada’s protection”, and the CIC strategic outcome of “Successful integration of newcomers and promotion of Canadian citizenship”, which is a cornerstone of the department’s Program Activity Architecture (PAA).[note 17]

3.1.2   Link to International Priorities

Canada has chosen to offer protection to refugees, in part for humanitarian reasons, but also to meet its international responsibilities. In 1969, Canada signed both the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol. These international instruments oblige Canada to protect refugees on its territory and provide standards for doing so. In addition to protecting refugees on Canadian soil, Canada takes part in UNHCR resettlement programs and commits to resettling a certain number of refugees from abroad, on an annual basis.

The UNHCR is the organization responsible for leading and coordinating international action for the worldwide protection of refugees. At the start of 2006, the UNHCR reported that the global refugee population stood at 8.4 million. This includes “people who are outside their country and cannot return owing to a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group” as well as “people who have fled because of war or civil conflict.”[note 18]

Resettlement is one of three durable solutions recognized by the UNHCR, along with voluntary repatriation and local integration into the country of first asylum. The PSR Program addresses the resettlement option. Resettlement is usually considered when neither repatriation nor integration into the country of first asylum is possible, although the UNHCR nonetheless emphasizes the use of resettlement worldwide as an integral part of comprehensive protection and durable solutions strategies. The UNHCR Projected Global Resettlement Needs for 2006 reported that there are 48,638 refugees considered by UNHCR to be in need of resettlement, as identified by individual field offices. The UNHCR notes that additional needs are generally believed to exist, especially among protracted refugee situations, but that field offices may require additional support to more thoroughly and comprehensively assess the needs.

Though many nations have agreed to accept refugees on a temporary basis during the early phase of a crisis, only sixteen countries currently take part in UNHCR resettlement programs and accept quotas of refugees on an annual basis. For 2005, the capacity of these countries to resettle was approximately 80,000 refugees, including some 30,500 who were resettled with UNHCR assistance. The three countries with the largest resettlement programs are the United States, Australia, and Canada, which together accounted for 90 percent of the total population resettled in 2005. The UNHCR has recognized that the limited number of resettlement countries worldwide translates into a limited number of resettlement options for those in need of it, and has therefore urged the expansion of resettlement worldwide.[note 19] CIC officials, sponsors and third-party representatives interviewed as part of this evaluation suggested that the need for refugee resettlement is great or high (21 of 32 interviewees) and many believe that Canada is making a positive contribution to that need (20 of 34 interviewees). However, 10 interviewees (which included respondents from CIC and from the sponsorship community) were of the opinion that Canada is not making a large enough contribution and that more could be done.

In 2002, Canada endorsed the UNHCR’s Agenda for Protection, which focuses on suggested activities which would strengthen international protection of asylum-seekers and refugees and improve implementation of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. In particular, the Agenda for Protection’s Programme of Action includes, as one of its six goals, “sharing burdens and responsibilities more equitably and building capacities to receive and protect refugees”.[note 20]  As part of this goal, the UNHCR recognizes that “NGOs and other members of civil society play a particularly important role directly in protecting and assisting refugees and asylum seekers, but also in strengthening protection capacities.” As such, one of the identified objectives under this broader goal is “strengthened partnerships for protection with civil society, including NGOs.” The PSR Program, which is founded on a unique partnership with the voluntary sector, clearly contributes to the achievement of this objective.

Another identified objective under the Programme of Action is the “provision of complementary forms of protection to those who might not fall within the scope of the 1951 Convention, but require international protection.”[note 21]  Under this objective, the UNHCR urges States to consider the merits of establishing a single procedure in which there is first an examination of the 1951 Convention grounds for refugee status, to be followed, as necessary and appropriate, by the examination of the possible grounds for the grant of complementary forms of protection.”  The PSR Program is well aligned with this objective, as it allows for the protection of persons who fall under the Country of Asylum and Source Country designated classes, in addition to Convention Refugees.

3.2 Program Integrity

Through the assessment of program integrity, the following interrelated issues emerged: program monitoring, application volumes, inventories and lengthy processing times, high overall refusal rates. Each is examined in greater detail in the following section.

3.2.1 Refugee Sponsorship

Refugees are being sponsored by a wide variety of groups throughout Canada, many of which have a great deal of experience with the sponsorship program. Information collected during the evaluation showed that the PSR Program is, as intended, offering protection to refugees through private sponsorship, although in several of the years since 1998, the number of arrivals in Canada has fallen short of government targets.

Since 1979, more than 195,000 refugees and persons in need of protection have arrived in Canada through private sponsorship.[note 22] While historical data is not available on the number of private sponsors, there are currently 87 organizations that have sponsorship agreements in place with CIC and information from the list of CGs and G5s used for survey purposes, showed that between January 1, 2001 and May 30, 2006 a total of 1,136 CGs and 2,730 G5s submitted applications for sponsorship. Information from the SAH survey indicated that SAHs either submit sponsorships directly or submit sponsorships on behalf of their CGs. Of the 35 SAHs that responded to a question on how many CGs they have, six indicated they do not have any, meaning that they directly sponsor refugees. The remaining 29 SAHs had an average of 22 CGs (ranging from 1 to 100, with a median of 15).

Information from the SAH survey showed that SAHs have a great deal of experience with the private sponsorship program. More that half of SAH respondents (58 percent) indicated that their organization has been involved with the Program for more than 20 years and over half of respondents (57 percent) also indicated that they had been in their current position for more than five years. Survey data also showed that 74 percent of SAHs have a designated PSR program coordinator position.

Each year, Canada establishes a target range for the number of PSR refugees. Data on targets available between 1998 and 2006, showed that they have remained generally stable between 2,800 and 4,000 landings. Between 1998 and 2005, the PSR program fell short of its target in four of the eight years (Table 5).[note 23]  This could, in part, be linked to the high rates of refusal that the PSR Program is experiencing. This is discussed in more detail in Section 3.2.5.

Table 5. Planned Targets and Actual Landings, PSR Refugees (1994‑2006)[note 24]
Year Planned Range Actual Landings
Lower Upper
1994 N/A N/A 2,838
1995 N/A N/A 3,244
1996 N/A N/A 3,063
1997 N/A N/A 2,580
1998 2,800 4,000 2,148
1999 2,800 4,000 2,331
2000 2,800 4,000 2,905
2001 2,800 4,000 3,570
2002 2,900 4,200 3,044
2003 2,900 4,200 3,254
2004 3,400 4,000 3,115
2005 3,000 4,000 2,976
2006 3,000 4,000 --

3.2.2 Collaboration Between CIC and SAHs

The operation of the PSR Program is dependent upon the sponsorship community because it is the private sponsors that ultimately take on responsibility for resettling refugees in Canada. Interactions with both groups throughout the evaluation study showed that CIC and the SAHs have a long history of divergent views on certain issues, which has ultimately resulted in a strained relationship between the two parties.

While the relationship between CIC and the SAHs is not strong, they both participate in the NGO Government Committee and NGO Sub-Committee and perceive these committees as a positive vehicle for dialogue. Eighty-one percent of interviewees felt that the NGO Government Committee was useful (17 of 21), mainly because it improved communications between CIC and the SAHs (8 of 21). The SAH survey data supported the interview information and showed that most SAHs believe the Committee has been somewhat or very effective for: information exchange (81  percent), communicating with CIC (70 percent), communicating with other SAHs (84 percent), discussing general refugee issues (73 percent), and identifying program issues (75 percent). The SAHs see the Committee as somewhat less effective for building consensus (63 percent), and resolving program issues (64 percent).

Program Controls, Volumes and Inventories

The PSR Program was established in such a way that individuals and community groups have a number of means through which they can sponsor a refugee. The program provides SAHs with the authority and flexibility to work with CGs and provides members of the community opportunities to submit applications to sponsor a refugee. There are documents that outline the monitoring procedures for CIC; however, sponsors do not have any reporting requirements, with the exception of SAHs producing annual reports, which contain basic statistics on submission volumes.[note 25]  The level of program flexibility has made it very difficult for CIC to have full knowledge of its sponsoring groups. In addition, CIC lacks information about the results of the program, which could be useful in making program decisions.

While CIC has established targets for PSR arrivals in Canada each year, it has not limited the number of applications that can be submitted by sponsors. Beginning in 1999, the volume of applications has increased dramatically, which has had a substantial impact on the program inventory and processing times.

Records of Sponsor Population

Refugees can be sponsored either through a SAH, CG, G5, or community sponsor.[note 26]  CIC maintains separate databases and/or lists for each of these sponsoring groups. During the course of the evaluation, it was discovered that these lists are incomplete or out-of-date. The records in the database of CGs and G5s often did not contain contact information or the information was no longer accurate. In addition, the same organization may be assigned more than one numerical identifier and thus appear more than once within the database because of data-entry discrepancies (e.g., ‘Saint’ versus ‘St’).

The SAH list was also found to contain inaccuracies (e.g., incorrect contact names or telephone numbers). As the survey was administered, it became evident that there is duplication between the lists of CGs, G5s and SAHs. Some individuals involved in a SAH are also part of a CG or G5 that is sponsoring a refugee. A CG or G5 may also list a member of a SAH as a contact on the sponsorship application, even if that individual is not involved in the sponsorship. While there is nothing to prevent a member of a SAH from participating in a sponsorship with a CG or G5, the In-Canada Processing Guide states that ‘the person identified (as the contact) must be a party to the sponsorship.’[note 27]

Level of Program Monitoring

SAHs sign a sponsorship agreement with CIC to undertake sponsorship work and are responsible for the CGs with which they work (i.e., CGs do not have an agreement with CIC). G5s are created by five members of the community that are interested in sponsoring a refugee. G5s do not have a formal agreement with CIC, which means that there are no specific requirements (e.g., reporting) for which G5s are responsible to CIC.

The PSR Program sets guidelines for CIC staff and sponsors through a few key documents.[note 28] Appendix F, Annex 1, of the IP 3* provides a series of questions to gather information on the ‘range, level and quality of settlement assistance provided by the sponsor.’[note 29]   Appendix F, Annex 2, of the IP 3 provides guidance on monitoring sponsors and contains a questionnaire that CIC is to administer to sponsors.

Information from the interviews, as well as the CIC local office survey, indicated that little formal monitoring of refugees or sponsors is undertaken by the local offices. When asked whether sponsors were successful in meeting the immediate needs of refugees, many CIC interviewees (8 of 16) did not know or could not comment on this. Information from the CIC local office survey showed that few offices have formal monitoring systems in place, although about half of the offices indicated that they conduct informal monitoring in a number of areas: assistance provided by sponsor (55 percent), adherence to settlement plan (40 percent), the sponsor-refugee relationship (50 percent), and refugee settlement success (45 percent). Information from interviews suggested that informal monitoring could include personal involvement with the refugee or communication with refugees or sponsors. There is no evidence that CIC administers a questionnaire to sponsors, as per the guidance in the IP 3. One CIC regional office has designed its own questionnaire to collect such information; however, the information is currently not compiled.

Information from the SAH survey also suggested that little formal monitoring is conducted by the SAH on CGs and refugees. Similar to CIC local offices, about half of SAHs indicated that they conduct informal monitoring in a number of areas: assistance provided by sponsor (45 percent), adherence to settlement plan (49 percent), the sponsor-refugee relationship (56 percent), and refugee settlement success (53 percent). The survey also showed that half of SAHs (50 percent) said they are directly involved in refugee resettlement, which suggests that informal monitoring may be occurring through personal involvement with the refugees or sponsors.

Volume of Sponsorship Applications

Between 1994 and 2005, all sponsors (i.e., SAHs and their CGs, and G5s) submitted an average of 3,300 applications for sponsorship each year, representing an average of 7,000 people each year. Data on submission volumes and program targets showed that CIC is receiving applications at twice the volume of its targets. This volume has impacted on PSR inventory levels, which have been growing since 2002, and the time it takes to process applications, which has also been increasing.

While CIC has established targets for PSR arrivals in Canada each year, it has not limited the number of applications that can be submitted by sponsors annually, which according to some CIC interviewees (11 of 24), is an issue impacting on the success of the program. Note that CIC recently began to limit the number of people for which SAHs can submit applications; however, to date, only 21 of the 87 SAHs have limited agreements, most of which began in late 2005.

Figure 2 below presents the volume of sponsorship applications submitted by SAHs and GCs since 1994.

Figure 2. Annual Sponsorship Applications Submitted (People), by Sponsor Type (1994-2005).[note  30]

Figure 2. Annual Sponsorship Applications Submitted (People), by Sponsor Type (1994-2005)

As depicted in Figure 2, the volume of applications, particularly those from SAHs, increased dramatically in 1999 and has remained above 1998 levels since that time. In 1998 applications totaling 4,304 people (1,992 cases) were submitted by sponsors and by 2001 that volume had increased to 10,191 people (3,198 cases).

One possible explanation for this may be changes made to the Humanitarian Designated Classes Regulations in 1998. These changes included the addition of two new refugee classes, Country of Asylum (RA) and Source Country (RS), which broadened the potential pool of refugees from which the PSR could draw. Subsequent to these amendments, no corresponding changes were made to PSR landing targets or CIC procedures for processing applications, which may have contributed, at least in part, the increasing volumes, processing times, and high inventory levels currently being experienced by the program. However, there are numerous other factors coinciding with the legislative change that may also have contributed to sustained higher application volumes, including certain country-specific situations and an overall increased level of awareness and engagement of the sponsorship community.

A review of submission statistics between 2004 and 2006 showed that the high volume of sponsorship applications can be attributed to a small population of SAHs. Between 1994 and 2005, SAHs and their CGs submitted applications for an average of 4,400 people per year (average of 2,100 cases).[note  31]  However, in 1999, the number of applications from both groups rose significantly, doubling over the previous year (see Figure 2). In 2004, one SAH accounted for over 2,091 people (1,061 cases) and eight SAHs accounted for 6,048 people (2,770 cases).[note  32]

This information is consistent with data provided by the CIC Matching Centre, which began tracking the number of sponsorship applications by sponsoring group in 2005. This data showed that in 2005, 15 SAHs were responsible for 77 percent of the total number of applications submitted (people), with one SAH responsible for 18 percent. In 2006 (to September 30), 15 SAHs were responsible for 80 percent of the total number of applications submitted (people), with one SAH responsible for 23 percent (Table 6). See Appendix I for a full table of submission volumes for all SAHs, 2005-2006.

Table 6. Submission Volumes (People) for the Top 15 SAHs, 2005-2006
SAH 2005 2006 *
# of CGs People % of total # of CGs People % of total
1 20 929 18.2 25 627 22.9
2 19 644 12.6 18 155 5.7
3 0 414 8.1 0 194 7.1
4 8 315 6.2 5 228 8.3
5 63 276 5.4 37 210 7.7
6 0 266 5.2 34 238 8.7
7 9 253 5.0 8 127 4.6
8 15 133 2.6 11 92 3.4
9 9 122 2.4 8 61 2.2
10 35 119 2.3 12 42 1.5
11 13 112 2.2 4 22 0.8
12 2 103 2.0 1 7 0.3
13 5 93 1.8 5 133 4.9
14 12 85 1.7 4 18 0.7
15 12 84 1.6 6 28 1.0
Total 222 3948 77.3 178 2182 79.8

* Data as of September 2006.

G5s submit fewer applications than SAHs, with an average of 2,600 people per year (1,200 cases) between 1994 and 2005. The intent of G5s is that five people within a community form a group to sponsor a refugee and that this is a one-time event. However, survey data showed that each G5 surveyed submitted an average of 2.5 applications over the course of their involvement in the private sponsorship program. Therefore, G5s are submitting more applications than intended by the program.

3.2.3 Inventories and Processing Times

The increasing submission volumes and the fact that CIC’s landing targets have remained stable, have impacted on the number of applications in CIC’s inventory and the length of time required to process submissions. From 2002 to 2005, the number of cases in CIC’s inventory has grown by 72 percent overall (Table 7).[note 33]

Table 7. Number of Cases and People in Inventory (2002-2005)
Year Cases in Inventory % change People in Inventory % change
2002 4,046 -

11,725

-
2003 6,145 51.8

12,173

3.8
2004 6,626 7.8

12,324

1.2
2005 6,951 4.9

14,855

20.5

Many interviewees (26 of 35) cited processing times as an issue impacting on the success of the program. This is consistent with the information collected in the surveys, which showed that 70 percent of respondents from the local office survey and 87 percent of respondents from the SAH survey rated processing times as a major concern. In 2001, it took 17 months to process 80 percent of cases. Since that time, the number of months required to process 80 percent of cases has been increasing and was 35 months in 2005 (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Months Required to Process 80 Percent of Cases in Visa Offices

Figure 3. Months Required to Process 80 Percent of Cases in Visa Offices.

CIC recognizes that the long processing times are an issue and has completed some temporary duty assignments to address inventory levels and, CIC has started to limit, as SAH agreements expire and are renewed, the number of applications allowed. As well, in March 2006, CIC, through the NGO Sub-Committee, requested that SAHs voluntarily reduce their number of applications for sponsorship. Note that there are no immediate plans for CIC to be imposing limits on G5s as well. At this time, it is unknown what impact temporary duty assignments, the limited SAH agreements, and the voluntary reduction of applications by SAHs may have on the program. Data on submission volumes for 2006 (period ending September 30) showed that a relatively high number of cases have been submitted, with three months still remaining in the year. A total of 2,028 applications for sponsorship, representing 4,715 people have already been received by CIC. This means that three-quarters into the year, CIC has already received more applications for sponsorship than the set targets for refugee arrivals.

Information from interviews showed that CIC staff believe that measures, such as making the PSR Program a full visa office-referred program (10 of 24) and more group processing (6 of 24) may help to address the issues related to volumes, inventories and processing times. With these methods, CIC would have more control over the number of applications being submitted.

3.2.4 Referral Process and Refusal Rates

The PSR Program is designed such that sponsors can either request a sponsorship case from the CIC visa offices or submit an undertaking for an individual or family that they are interested in sponsoring. Historically the program has received an overwhelming proportion of sponsor-referred cases compared to visa office-referred cases. From 2002 to 2005, on average, visa office-referred cases (persons) accounted for less than 2 percent of all resettled PSRs. There is an expectation that sponsors conduct an assessment of the eligibility of potential applicants before submitting an application for sponsorship. Information from the evaluation suggested that SAHs spend time assessing eligibility, although it is unclear what criteria are used to conduct an assessment and to what extent it is consistently applied across all SAHs. Although SAHs are screening for eligibility and they received training from CIC to do this, the refusal rates for the PSR Program have been consistently high. While the evaluation was not able to determine why the refusal rates are so high, it did assess the data related to the source of refused applications. (See Table 9)  This analysis demonstrated that the majority of CGs (57 percent) have refusal rates less than 20 percent, which is roughly comparable to that of GARs over the last five years (23 percent). However, the remaining CGs (43%), whose refusal rates are higher than those of GARs, are submitting the majority of sponsorship applications (86 percent of all applications in 2005). It is this combination of high volumes of applications and relatively high refusal rates that is causing the overall refusal rate for PSRs to be so high.

Assessing Refugee Eligibility

The Sponsorship Agreement and the Guide to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program indicate that ‘prior to submitting an undertaking……the SAH will make a preliminary assessment as to whether the applicant may meet the refugee eligibility criteria…’ [note 34] and ‘consider whether or not the person is likely to be eligible for the private sponsorship program.’[note 35]  Data from the SAH survey showed that 85 percent of SAHs surveyed always assess refugee eligibility, although it is unknown what that assessment entails.

In 2004, CIC began offering eligibility training to SAHs. In addition to this training, SAHs receive information on refugee eligibility from local CIC offices. Findings from the SAH survey indicated that while questions on application status were the most popular reason for contacting CIC, questions on refugee eligibility was the second most popular reason (see Table 8).

In addition to the training provided and the information available through local offices and the RSTP, CIC has recently begun the practice of regularly providing information on country conditions to SAHs, through a quarterly newsletter, to ensure that they are fully aware of any recent changes that may have an impact on the eligibility of refugees for resettlement.

Table 8. Types of Information Sought by SAHs, CGs and G5s[note 36]
Topic of Information Request SAHs (n=45) CGs
(n=231)
G5s
(n=230)
Percent Percent Percent
Refugee eligibility 68.9 48.2 50.9
Sponsor eligibility 22.2 43.1 57.0
Application process 37.8 43.6 61.3
Refugee/sponsor Matching 24.4 -- --
How to find a refugee to sponsor -- 21.1 32.6
Sponsorship responsibilities 26.7 59.6 58.3
Status of application[note 37] 71.1 73.4 53.9
Financial obligations 17.8 51.4 52.2
Refusal Rates

Since 1998, the average refusal rate for the PSR Program has been 49 percent. There have been variations in the rates of refusal, with 2000 having the lowest rate, at 40 percent, and 2001 having the highest rate at 55 percent. More recently, the refusal rate, after dipping to 43 percent in 2003, has been trending upwards, reaching 53 percent in 2006 (see Figure 4).

The PSR Program refusal rate is high compared to the GAR program, which averaged 31 percent between 1998 and 2006[note 38], with the rate continuously dropping between 2001 and 2005 (Figure 4). Looking only at the last five years, the refusal rate for the PSR Program averaged 48 percent and for the GAR program, 23 percent.

Figure 4. Refusal Rates, PSR and GAR Program (persons) (1998-2006).

Figure 4. Refusal Rates, Private Sponsorship of Refugees and Government Assisted Refugee Program (persons) (1998-2006).

Despite the high average refusal rate of PSR applications, a more detailed analysis of the refusal rates for all CGs demonstrated some interesting patterns (see Table 9). The evaluation examined the distribution of refusal rates using 2005 data compiled for CIC’s concurrent policy review of the PSR Program. This data showed that refusal rates by CGs are extremely varied, an observation consistent with the 2005 CIC Blitz Report, which showed a wide range of refusal rates by SAHs, from 17 percent to 74 percent.[note 39] 

This analysis also demonstrated that more than half of all CGs who submitted applications had a 100 percent acceptance rate, suggesting that many CGs do conduct an effective preliminary assessment of refugee eligibility. However these CGs submitted only one to eight applications each (an average of two per constituent group), which comprised only 10 percent of all applications received that year. In fact, 57 percent of the CGs had refusal rates less than 20 percent, which is roughly comparable to the refusal rate for GARs in the last five years (23 percent); however, these CGs represented only 14 percent of all applications submitted. Conversely, 43 percent of the CGs, representing 86 percent of applications, had refusal rates greater than that of GARs. This finding suggests that it is the combination of submitting a high number of applications with a relatively high refusal rate that explains the overall high refusal rate.

This observation is further substantiated by looking at the group responsible for submitting the highest number of applications in Table 9:  11 CGs (5 percent of all CGs) submitted 531 of the 2005 applications (25 percent; an average of 48 applications per CG); the refusal rate for this group, at 50-59 percent, is high, but not exceedingly so; their negative impact on the overall refusal rate stems not from their refusal rate itself, but from the fact that they are submitting so many applications at a slightly higher than average refusal rate (48 percent for all PSR applications in the last five years).

Table 9. Refusal Rates and Submission Volumes of Constituent Groups (2005)
Refusal Rate (%)

Constituent Groups

Applications

Ave. # of
Applications
per CG
  # % # %  
0 127 54% 223 10% 2
1-10 1 0% 22 1% 22
11-19 6 3% 55 3% 9
20-29 11 5% 309 14% 28
30-39 15 6% 499 23% 33
40-49 15 6% 241 11% 16
50-59 11 5% 531 25% 48
60-69 7 3% 40 2% 6
70-79 9 4% 137 6% 15
80-89 2 1% 28 1% 14
90-99 1 0% 13 1% 13
100 30 13% 58 3% 2
Total 235 100% 2156 100%  

The qualitative research conducted for this evaluation emphasized the negative impact that high refusal rates are having on the operation of the PSR Program. Both CIC (14 of 24) and SAH (7 of 11) interviewees identified high refusal rates as an issue impacting on overall program success. This refusal rate is considered to be problematic from CIC’s perspective because visa officers are required to process significantly more sponsorship applications to reach program targets, which impacts on program efficiency. This could explain why CIC has been at the lower end of its program targets for the past eight years. It is also a contributing factor in the growing inventory and long processing times.

Survey data shows that 47 percent of SAHs believe refusal rates are a major concern. According to the SAHs interviewed, refusal rates are an issue because they do not receive clear reasons why an applicant is refused (3 of 11) and there is no method of appeal once a refusal has been issued (4 of 11).

3.2.5 Co-Sponsorship

The PSR Program is designed so that sponsors have the option of formalizing a partnership with another party to share the responsibilities of resettlement support. This partner, also referred to as the co-sponsor, can be an individual or an organization, and is very often a family member. Each sponsoring organization has its own procedures for screening and approving a co-sponsor and for determining the responsibilities of the co-sponsor during the course of sponsorship. The Guide to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program indicates that the co-sponsor can sign the undertaking, which means that they would have to meet sponsor eligibility requirements and share responsibility for the sponsorship. However, the guide also indicates that it is not mandatory to formally recognize any partners that will be co-sponsors.[note 40]

Information from the focus groups raised an issue concerning the potential impact of co-sponsorship on refugees in terms of the level of support they may be receiving. Almost all focus group participants were sponsored or co-sponsored by a family member and it appeared there may be either a reluctance to accept support from a family member or a perception that the sponsor cannot afford to provide support. According to focus group participants, they began working very quickly after arrival, sometimes within the first few weeks, to support themselves and thus remove their reliance on their family member(s). LSIC data showed that 54 percent of PSR refugees were employed six months after arrival.

Because of the reluctance to accept support from family members, focus group participants had the perception that it would have been better to come to Canada as a GAR, mainly because financial support is provided for one year. Participants believe that with such financial support, it would be possible to focus on language and other skills training instead of having to work so quickly to support themselves. While co-sponsors are not exclusively family members, the findings raise some questions about the concept and participants of co-sponsorship and their ability to provide adequate financial support to refugees.

3.3 Resettlement Success

Through the PSR Program sponsoring groups agree to provide the refugees with care, lodging, settlement assistance and support for the duration of the sponsorship period, which is typically 12 months starting from the refugee’s arrival in Canada, or until the refugee becomes self-sufficient, whichever comes first.

Private sponsors are expected to support the sponsored refugees by:[note 41]

  • providing the cost of food, rent and household utilities and other day-to-day living expenses;
  • providing clothing, furniture and other household goods;
  • locating interpreters;
  • selecting a family physician and dentist;
  • assisting with applying for provincial health-care coverage and the Interim Federal Health Program;
  • enrolling children in school and adults in language training;
  • introducing newcomers to people with similar personal interests;
  • providing orientation with regard to banking services, transportation, etc.; and
  • assisting with the search for employment.

This one-year sponsorship period is intended to assist refugees, so that they may more easily adapt to life in Canada, and so that they are better prepared to face the challenges that come with resettlement.

3.3.1 Resettlement Assistance

Overall, respondents from the SAH survey reported having been successful in meeting the immediate needs of refugees and are providing non-financial support to refugees over the course of the sponsorship, and even sometimes beyond the one-year period.

The survey data showed that CGs and G5s spend a median of 20 hours per week assisting refugees during the sponsorship period. As well, many provide both in-kind and financial support beyond the sponsorship period. Twenty-nine percent of CGs indicated that for their last sponsorship, they provided both in-kind and financial support to the refugees after the sponsorship period. Similarly, 36 percent of G5s provided both in-kind and financial support to the refugee beyond the sponsorship period.

In addition to the assistance provided by CGs and G5s, about half of SAHs that responded to the survey are directly involved in activities that support refugee resettlement. Fifty-two percent indicated that they themselves provide refugees with orientation upon arrival and 48 percent said they work closely with refugees during resettlement. Sixty-four percent of SAHs also indicated that they monitor refugee cases, either formally or informally.

The SAH survey asked respondents to rate sponsor success in a variety of areas related to resettlement such as accommodations, basic health care, and community services. SAHs rated sponsor success quite high in all areas, particularly with respect to providing basic living needs (92 percent say sponsors have been very successful) and providing one year financial support (87 percent say sponsors have been very successful). It appears sponsors have found it slightly more difficult to assist refugees with finding employment (42 percent say sponsors have been very successful) (see Figure 5).

Similarly, CGs and G5s were asked to assess the level of difficulty they encountered in assisting refugees with respect to providing certain settlement support. Similar to SAHs, CGs and G5s rated their success quite high, particularly with the provision of basic living needs (81 percent said not difficult) and providing orientation to the community (81 percent said not difficult). CG and G5s seem to have had the most difficulty with assisting refugees with job search skills (42 percent found it difficult or somewhat difficult) (see Figure 6).

Figure 5. SAH Opinions on Success of Sponsors in Meeting Refugee Needs

Figure 5. Sponsorship Agreement Holder Opinions on Success of Sponsors in Meeting Refugee Needs

Figure 6. CG and G5 Level of Difficulty in Meeting Refugee Needs.

Figure 6. Constituent group and group of five or more Canadian citizens Level of Difficulty in Meeting Refugee Needs.

This information is consistent with information collected from interviewees and information from the focus groups. Although 16 of the 34 people interviewed could not comment on this, the remaining 18 interviewees all felt that sponsors were successful in meeting the immediate needs of refugees. Focus group participants indicated that there were no issues with respect to having basic needs met and that, generally, sponsors were available to provide assistance and support as necessary over the course of the sponsorship. It appears that Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) training prior to arrival does help to manage expectations to this effect. Almost all participants in four of the eight focus group sessions had received the training, and all of them indicated that they had expected that resettlement in Canada would be difficult, and would require a great deal of hard work, and are therefore better prepared psychologically.

3.3.2 Challenges of Resettlement

Although the evaluation data showed that private sponsors are generally successful in meeting the needs of refugees and offer much support to refugees over the sponsorship period, certain key challenges emerged from the evaluation findings. From the sponsor perspective, it can be difficult to meet any unexpected needs of refugees, find adequate and affordable housing and, to a lesser extent, assist the refugee with accessing health care services. From the refugee perspective, the key challenges relate to employment and language skills.

For interviewees, the most frequently reported challenge was meeting any unexpected needs of refugees (6 of 18 respondents), which could include medical, emotional or family-related issues. Interviewees also expressed certain concerns with respect to affordable housing and, to a lesser extent, medical care.

The CG and G5 survey suggested that, often, minimal notice is received prior to the refugee’s arrival. Data from the CG/G5 survey revealed that 52  percent of CGs and 33 percent of G5s received less than two weeks notice before the arrival of their sponsored refugee. A 2002 CIC survey of refugee sponsors also showed that the unexpected arrival of a refugee family can be very demanding, particularly when seeking accommodation in large cities with low housing vacancy rates.[note 42]

From the refugees’ perspective, focus group information showed that the biggest resettlement challenges related to employment and language. Some reported that difficulties in finding a job were due to language issues; however, a larger challenge seems to be finding employment in a field related to previous careers or skills-training and the fact that many privately sponsored refugees enter the workforce to support themselves so quickly after arrival. This may limit their opportunities to upgrade or gain new skills [see more on this in section 3.3.3 (Level of Integration)]. Data from a survey administered to focus group participants showed that only half of participants had taken language training since arriving in Canada. Focus group participants have not had a lot of time for language training because they are either working soon after arrival, or are busy caring for children. Note that LSIC data aligns with these findings, which showed that 55 percent of privately sponsored refugees had taken some form of language training.[note 43]

Refugee focus group participants also cited the high cost of housing as being a challenge to resettlement and it seemed common for the participants to have lived with their sponsors for a certain period of time upon arriving in Canada (anywhere from a few weeks to the entire year).

3.3.3 Level of Integration

This evaluation measured successful integration of refugees by examining economic indicators such as:  financial independence of family unit (employment and income), PSRs working in the field in which they have knowledge/skills, and career advancement.  While refugees are working, many focus group participants indicated that they are not working in jobs for which they have specialized skills or training. Information from the evaluation also allowed for an assessment of integration against ‘social’ indicators such as participation in socio-political groups and sense of well-being. Overall, refugees seem to be integrating into the community, feel accepted in Canada, and have a positive outlook for the future.

Information from several sources showed that privately sponsored refugees are finding employment and often do so very quickly upon arrival. IMDB data showed that PSRs have fairly high incidences of employment, with an average of 71 percent between 1998 and 2002. In other words, each year 71 percent of PSR refugees are earning employment income. This is supported by data from the CG/G5 survey which showed that 39 percent of CGs and 70 percent of G5s said their sponsored refugee gained employment within the first six months of arriving in Canada. Focus group participants confirmed these findings, indicating that they often work very quickly after they arrive; sometimes, within the first few weeks.

Information from the focus group survey indicated that participants are working (31 of 38 participants or a member of their family. Some of the most common jobs include those in the service industry (8 of 33), in factories (6 of 33), or as labourers (6 of 33). Only 6 of the 40 focus group participants had participated in some type of skills training. Sixty percent of respondents indicated that they are interested in taking some form of skills training, in a wide range of employment areas (many as trades people or health care workers).

The overall well-being of PSRs is difficult to assess. Little hard data is available in this area, although information from the focus groups provides some indication that PSRs are doing well in Canada. Participants in the focus groups provided the overall sense that they are happy to be in Canada, and that they feel safe and protected. One participant from a Calgary session said that ‘Canada saved his life and made him a productive person’ and another said that the focus in coming to Canada was safety and now she ‘does not have a fear for her safety.’  Although settlement has not been without its challenges, focus group participants feel that they are a part of the community and feel accepted by Canada. Most indicated that it was important for them to preserve their culture and practice their own faith and that there are opportunities to do so, with Canada being such a multi-cultural nation. Those participants with children commented that their children appear to have adjusted more quickly than the parents, mainly because they were attending school and had the opportunity to learn the language more quickly. Overall, focus group participants are thankful to be in Canada and have a very positive outlook for the future.

3.3.4 PSR Resettlement Success Compared to GARs

The evaluation also attempted to assess the resettlement success of PSRs as compared to GARs by looking at both economic and social indicators. From an employment perspective, the IMDB data showed that PSRs enter the labour force more quickly than GARs and are more likely than GARs to have employment earnings in the first few years after arrival. However, over time, those differences diminish (see Figure 7).

Figure 7. Incidences of Employment Earnings in 2003 (%) by Landing Year, PSRs and GARs.

Figure 7. Incidences of Employment Earnings in 2003 (%) by Landing Year, Private Sponsorship of Refugees and Government Assisted Refugees

In looking at employment earnings, there is also little difference in the pattern between PSRs and GARs. While both populations have employment earnings much less than the Canadian average in the first few years after arrival, both populations experience an increase in employment earnings over time. IMDB data from 2003 showed that a PSR who has been in Canada for 15 years had average employment earnings of $30,855. GARs recorded slightly lower average earnings for the same year, at $28,901 (Figure 8)[note 44].

Figure 8. Average Employment Earnings in 2003 by Landing Year, PSRs and GARs.

Figure 8. Average Employment Earnings in 2003 by Landing Year, Private Sponsorship of Refugees and Government Assisted Refugees

There is little difference between PSRs and GARs in terms of having immediate needs met. As shown in section 3.3.1 (Resettlement Assistance), sponsors have been successful in meeting the immediate needs of refugees. The 2004 Evaluation of the Refugee Assistance Program (RAP) program found that "overall, the essential needs of GARs are being met by RAP" and that “many short-term outcomes are being achieved, including more GARs having needs met upon arrival, increased awareness of government programs and increased awareness of most financial and non-financial issues.”[note 45]

With respect to social indicators of the comparative resettlement success of PSRs and GARs, data from LSIC showed little difference between the two in terms of the level of satisfaction with the Canadian experience six months after arrival. The survey asked respondents to indicate their level of satisfaction with their experiences in Canada. Eighty-four percent of PSRs and 80 percent of GARs were either satisfied or completely satisfied with their experiences (Table 10).

Table 10. Level of Satisfaction with Canadian Experience Six Months after Arrival, GARs and PSRs[note  46]
Level of Satisfaction PSRs GARs
completely satisfied 26 % 24 %
satisfied 58 % 56 %
neither satisfied nor dissatisfied -- 14%
dissatisfied/completely dissatisfied -- 5 %

Two years after arrival, survey participants were asked whether their level of satisfaction with their experiences in Canada was higher, lower or about the same compared to six months after arrival. Both populations indicated that their level of satisfaction was higher. PSRs were more likely to rate themselves as more satisfied at two years (77 percent) than GARs (69 percent).

The key resettlement difference between GARs and PSRs is the fact that PSRs are entering the workforce and gaining financial independence more quickly. The 2004 RAP evaluation noted that “privately sponsored refugees tend to become more self-sufficient sooner and are less likely to go on to social assistance.”[note  47]

3.4 Cost-Effectiveness

The GAR Program was used as a comparison to assess the cost-effectiveness of the PSR Program. GAR is similar to PSR in that it provides resettlement assistance to refugees, however, unlike PSRs, support for GARs is provided entirely by the Government of Canada.[note 48]  The GAR Program annual targets have been consistent at about 7,300 landings since 1998. Between 1994 and 2005, the Government resettled just over 95,000 GARs, with an average of around 7,900 landings each year.

Government-assisted refugees are referred to CIC by the UNHCR, which identifies individuals or groups in need of resettlement. The referred individual must still be approved by CIC and meet medical and security requirements. GARs are processed more quickly than PSRs and between 1999 and 2005 it took, on average, 14 months to process 80 percent of GAR cases.

Once a refugee has been accepted by Canada, the CIC Matching Centre places GARs into one of 23 communities in Canada that is determined to be best suited to the needs of the particular refugee(s). Once in Canada, GARs receive 12 months of income support from the Federal Government and receive other support, such as assistance with finding accommodation, through service provider organizations that are funded by CIC. The financial support and immediate assistance provided to GARs by the Federal Government are provided to PSRs by their sponsoring groups. Both types of refugees can access other CIC support services, such as language training.

Operating Costs for the PSR and GAR Programs

In assessing the cost-effectiveness of the PSR Program, GCS reviewed the operating costs for the PSR Program, using the GAR program as a comparison. Operating budgets from 2004-2005 showed that the GAR program had a much larger operating budget than the PSR Program. In 2004-2005, the operating budgets for the PSR and GAR Programs were 4.8 million and 49.8 million, respectively.[note 49]  This large difference is due to the fact that the targets for GAR are higher than PSR, and perhaps more notable is the fact that private sponsors provide financial and other resettlement support to PSRs—a cost that the Federal Government bears for GARs.

Financial information obtained from the Cost Management Model (2004-2005) showed that total costs for administering the PSR and GAR programs were $4,784,110 and $5,820,012, respectively. Note that the administrative costs are a sum of standard objects from the Cost Management Model that include: personnel, transportation, telecommunications, professional services, rentals, utilities, materials and supplies.

In looking only at administrative costs for the programs, data from 2004-2005 showed that, on a per application basis, the PSR program was more expensive to administer than the GAR program and that a larger proportion of salary costs for the PSR Program was used for in-land processing (i.e., in Canada). Using data on the number of PSR and GAR applications processed in 2004-2005, a cost per application processed was calculated. This data showed that the administrative cost to process a PSR application in 2004-2005 ($1,912), was more than the cost to process a GAR application ($1,552) (see Table 11). Given that the refusal rate over the last 5 years for the PSR program (48 percent) is higher than that for the GAR program (23 percent), the comparative difference in administrative costs for a successful applicant would be even greater.

Table 11. Cost Per Application Processed, PSR and GAR (2004-2005)
  PSR GAR
Total administrative costs $4,784,110 $5,820,012
Number of applications processed (cases) 2,502 3,750
Administrative cost per application processed $1,912 $1,552

There are two components in processing applications: in-land and overseas. The in-land component for PSR involves local CIC offices receiving applications for sponsorship from sponsors; reviewing the applications for completeness; entering information into FOSS; and forwarding the file to the appropriate visa office. The local offices work with sponsors to respond to questions during the application process, ensure completeness of applications, and may have interactions with sponsors and refugees after their arrival, if necessary. The level and frequency of interaction with sponsors and/or refugees varies between local offices. From a salary cost perspective, the in-land processing component also includes the activities necessary to manage the program (e.g., policy development, work with the NGO Sub-Committee).

The overseas processing component involves conducting a paper screening of the application; logging information into CAIPS; sending the application to the applicant; making a determination of refugee status, which involves activities such as interviewing; and liaising with the IOM to ensure that medical checks and travel arrangements are completed, as required.

Financial information and data on the time required to process cases, both extracted from the Cost Management Model, showed that for PSRs, a large proportion of salary costs were used for in-land processing of PSR cases in 2004-2005. A total of 74 percent of salary costs were expended in Canada versus 26 percent overseas. This is quite different from the GAR program, which expended 55 percent of its salary costs in-land versus 45 percent overseas (see Table 12).

Table 12. Proportion of In-Land versus Overseas Salary Costs for PSR and GAR (2004-2005)
  PSR GAR
  Salary Cost Percent Salary Cost Percent
Inland $2,478,056 74 $2,026,633 55
Overseas $874,413 26 $1,656,034 45
Total $3,352,469   $3,682,667  

3.4.2 Income Support Provided to Refugees

The evaluation examined the level of financial support provided to PSRs compared to GARs over a 12-month period and how this may impact on settlement success. The evidence showed that private sponsors provide less direct financial support to PSRs than the government provides to GARs.

The SAH and CG/G5 survey yielded financial information from 22 SAHs and 323 CGs/G5s. This information was examined according to the number of people in the refugee family and only the median numbers were analyzed. The financial support provided to refugees varied greatly from as little as $100 to as much as $47,000. PSRs received anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 of financial support from sponsors over the course of the one year sponsorship period, depending on family size.[note 50] This refers to direct financial assistance only. It does not include in-kind support for things such as housing, furnishings, food, transportation, etc. that would otherwise require a cash outlay by the refugee.

Income support for GARs is predetermined by CIC and is based on provincial rates for social assistance. The information showed that GARs receive more income support from the government and, depending on family size, they receive anywhere between $9,500 and $22,400. The gap in income support between PSRs and GARs increases as the size of family increases and amount of support provided to PSRs seems to reach a plateau at three family members (Table 13).

Table 13. Income Support Provided to PSR and GAR Refugees
Size of Family PSR (median) GAR
Family of 1 $ 5,000 $ 9,500
Family of 2 $ 7,500 $ 15,200
Family of 3 $ 10,000 $ 19,300
Family of 4 $ 10,000 $ 22,400

As discussed in the Section 3.4.3, the fact that PSRs receive less income support than GARs does not seem to have impacted on their ability to settle in Canada. In fact, there are no noteworthy differences in the success of PSRs and GARs in terms of having their immediate needs met and there is no sizeable difference in employability (e.g., incidences of employment and employment earnings) over time. The key difference between PSRs and GARs is that PSRs become self-sufficient more quickly than GARs (i.e., within 6 months upon arrival).

4.0 Overall Conclusions

This section presents the overall conclusions from the evaluation of the PSR Program. Note that recommendations have not been included.

Program Relevance

The PSR Program is aligned with the Government of Canada’s and CIC’s objectives with respect to upholding Canada’s humanitarian tradition in the resettlement of refugees and the protection of those in need.

The Program is also clearly aligned with the refugee protection mandate of CIC, which is derived from the 2002 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

CIC officials, sponsors and third-party representatives interviewed as part of this evaluation suggested that the need for refugee resettlement is high.

In 2002, Canada endorsed the UNHCR’s Agenda for Protection, which focuses activities to strengthen international protection of asylum-seekers and refugees. The PSR Program is aligned with two objectives of the Agenda for Protection, including “strengthened partnerships for protection with civil society, including NGOs” and “Provision of complementary forms of protection to those who might not fall within the scope of the 1951 Convention, but require international protection.”

Program Integrity

The PSR Program is, as intended, offering protection to refugees through private sponsorship, having facilitated the resettlement of over 195,000 refugees since 1979.

Each year, the targets for the PSR Program have remained fairly stable at between 3,000 and 4,000 landings; although, in several of the years since 1998, the number of arrivals in Canada was somewhat short of the target.

A number of evaluation findings related to the administration of the PSR Program suggest that current monitoring activities are insufficient:

The lists of CGs and G5s maintained by CIC were found to be incomplete and out-of-date. Similarly, the SAH list used for survey administration was out-of-date and there appeared to be substantial duplication between the three lists (partly explained by the structure and flexibility of the Program.

SAHs sign a sponsorship agreement with CIC and are required to submit an annual report detailing their activities. However, SAHs set their own criteria for recognizing and working with CGs. The G5s have no formal agreement or reporting requirements in place with CIC. Information from the interviews and surveys indicated that little formal monitoring of sponsors or refugees is conducted by CIC offices; or by SAHs of CGs or refugees. There was evidence that some informal monitoring of refugees by the SAHs is occurring through their personal involvement with the refugees or sponsors.

The internal administrative data maintained by CIC is inconsistent. It is also incomplete; for instance, the Program does not collect data on why PSR applicants are refused. Without comprehensive data, it is difficult to assess how well the Program is actually operating.

Increasing submission volumes and high refusal rates have contributed to delays in processing times and created a cumbersome application inventory, all of which impact on program efficiency and effectiveness.

As a group, sponsors are submitting high volumes of applications for sponsorship – twice the volume of CIC targets. This volume has impacted on PSR inventory levels and processing times, both of which have increased in recent years. However, a review of submission statistics between 2004 and 2006 showed that a small population of SAHs are disproportionately responsible for the high volume of sponsorship applications being submitted.

The refusal rate for PSR applications is high, averaging 49 percent since 1998. Thus CIC is required to process twice as many applications to reach program targets, which impacts on program efficiencies. This could be a factor in CIC’s inability to meet its program targets every year.

An examination of the distribution of refusal rates demonstrated that the majority of CGs (57 percent) actually have very low refusal rates, comparable to the refusal rate of GARs. However, this group is also submitting a very small percentage of the overall applications (14 percent). The remaining CGs (43  percent), whose refusal rates are higher than those of GARs, are submitting the majority of sponsorship applications (86 percent of all applications in 2005).  It is this combination of high volumes of applications and relatively high refusal rates that is causing the overall refusal rate for PSRs to be so high. This analysis suggests that the majority of SAHs understand and successfully assess the applicant’s eligibility, but that some – generally those who are submitting larger volumes of applications – are less effective at doing so.

Processing times have doubled in the past 4 years; in 2001, it took 17 months to process 80 percent of cases. In 2005, the number of months required to process 80 percent of cases had increased to 35 months, which represents a significant waiting time for a program of this nature.

Resettlement Success

The evaluation showed that, overall, sponsors have been successful in meeting the immediate needs of refugees and are providing support to refugees over the course of the sponsorship, and even sometimes beyond the one-year period.

Sponsors suggested that the biggest challenges with respect to sponsorship are meeting any unexpected needs of refugees and finding adequate and affordable housing. It can also be a challenge for sponsors to assist the refugee with accessing health care services.

Refugees are having the most difficulty with gaining employment and with improving language skills. While refugees are working, often very quickly upon arrival, few of the focus group participants are working in jobs for which they have specialized skills or training.

These focus group participants indicated that this is frequently out of necessity, either because they do not want to accept support from their sponsors, who are often family members, or because their sponsor may not be able to fully support the refugee.

There are no noteworthy differences in the success of PSRs and GARs in terms of having their immediate needs met.

While there are differences between them in incidences of employment income and employment earnings in the first few years after arrival, these differences diminish over time. The key difference between PSRs and GARs is that PSRs become self-supporting more quickly than GARs (i.e., within 6 months upon arrival).

Cost-Effectiveness

In assessing the cost-effectiveness of the PSR Program, the operating costs for the PSR Program and GAR program were compared.

2004-2005 data showed that the GAR program had a much larger operating budget than the PSR Program, due to the fact that the targets for GAR are higher than PSR, and, in addition to administering the program, the Federal Government provides GARs with 12 months of direct income support and also funds other settlement services for GARs.

Data from 2004-2005 showed that, on a per application basis, the PSR program was more expensive to administer than the GAR program and that a large proportion of salary costs for the PSR Program were used for in-land processing (i.e., in Canada).

Thus, while the PSR program is more costly for CIC to administer on a per-application basis, the GAR program, as a whole, is more costly to the Federal Government.

The evaluation also examined the level of direct financial support provided to PSRs compared to that received by GARs over a 12-month period. The evidence showed that private sponsors provide less direct financial support to PSRs that the government provides to GARs, though “in-kind” support is very often provided.

PSR Evaluation Management Response

Key Finding Response Action Accountability Implementation Date
I. PROGRAM RELEVANCE
The PSR Program is aligned with the Government of Canada’s and CIC’s objectives of upholding Canada’s humanitarian tradition in the resettlement of refugees and providing protection of those in need. CIC agrees with this finding Canada will continue its efforts to maintain this alignment Refugees Branch Ongoing

II. PROGRAM INTEGRITY
A number of evaluation findings related to the administration of the PSR Program suggest that current monitoring activities are insufficient. CIC will establish monitoring activities for private sponsors and refugees accepted under the PSR program. CIC will review current procedures to ensure that consistent and effective monitoring procedures are developed and in place for both sponsors and refugees being resettled.
CIC will develop a draft monitoring system to look at resource needs and procedures to allow local CIC offices to better counsel sponsors and implement Quality Assurance guidelines within the PSR process.
Refugees Branch  OMC Branch 2007/08




2007/08

Increasing submission volumes and high refusal rates have contributed to delays in processing times and created a cumbersome application inventory, all of which impact on program efficiency and effectiveness.

A relatively small population of Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) were responsible for a disproportionate volume of the sponsorship applications and for the high overall refusal rate.

Processing times, which have doubled in the last four years, represent a significant waiting time for a protection program.

CIC agrees with the finding. It is consistent with the PSR Review discussions begun in 2004 CIC will continue to engage in broad-based consultations with SAHs and will hold a PSR Conference in the fall of 2007 that will examine shared strategies with the sponsorship community to address long processing times and high refusal rates. Refugees Branch   International Region   2007/08



III. RESETTLEMENT SUCCESS
Overall, sponsors have been successful in meeting the immediate needs of refugees and are providing support to refugees over the course of the sponsorship, and even sometimes beyond the one-year period. CIC recognizes the valuable and effective resettlement efforts made by sponsoring groups. No action required N/A N/A
Although there are no noteworthy differences between PSRs and GARs in terms of employment income and employment earnings over time (i.e. after about three years), PSRs become self-supporting far more quickly than GARs. CIC recognizes that some differences exist between GAR and PSR programs and that further research is required to accurately assess the resettlement and integration success for both GARs and PSRs. CIC will develop pilot projects to identify the needs of individual refugees from the time of selection to the period of settlement, and assess the effectiveness of integration programs. Refugees Branch Integration Branch 2008/09
IV. COST-EFFECTIVENESS
While the operating budget for the GAR Program is higher than that for PSR Program (due to greater numbers and the provision of income support for one year), the PSR Program is more expensive to administer on a per application basis. CIC agrees with this finding. CIC will look for program efficiencies, including through strategies to reduce refusal rates. CIC expenses significant resources on cases that are refused. The Fall 2007 PSR Conference will address this issue. Refugees Branch International Region 2007/08
Footnotes
  1. In Quebec, support is provided by the provincial government.
  2. CIC commissioned Government Consulting Services (GCS) to conduct this summative evaluation.
  3. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Guide to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, page 2.
  4. In Quebec, support is provided by the provincial government.
  5. Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program: 1979–2004, http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/publications/refugees-25.asp.
  6. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. PSRP: Results-Based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF): Final Report, November 2004.
  7. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Guide to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, page 2.
  8. For additional details on IOM, see http://61.14.188.214/jahia/jsp/index.jsp.
  9. This number includes one group interview with three program representatives and two separate interviews with two reception centres.
  10. Representing 6 visa offices.
  11. This included one SAH that recently did not have its agreement renewed.
  12. For additional information, see http://www.statcan.ca/bsolc/english/bsolc?catno=89-611-X
  13. For additional information, see http://www.statcan.ca/bsolc/english/bsolc?catno=91C0027
  14. Messages were left with those representatives that could not be reached.
  15. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program (PSRP) Results-Based Management and Accountability Framework (RMAF), p. 4.
  16. Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, 2002 (http://lois.justice.gc.ca/en/I-2.5/text.html).
  17. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. RPP 2006-2007 (http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rpp/0607/CI-CI/ci-ci01_e.asp#1_c_2)
  18. UNHCR. Refugees by Numbers 2006 Edition (http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/basics/opendoc.htm?tbl=BASICS&id=3b028097c)
  19. UNHCR. Refugees by Numbers 2006 Edition (http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/basics/opendoc.htm?tbl=BASICS&id=3b028097c)
  20. UNHCR, Agenda for Protection, p. 56.
  21. UNHCR, Agenda for Protection, p. 34.
  22. CIC Website: The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/publications/refugees-25.asp).
  23. In each of these cases, it is uncertain how many privately sponsored refugees, processed via group processing or through a Joint Assisted Sponsorship (JAS), may be included in GAR processing numbers.
  24. This table was compiled using statistics in CIC’s Departmental Performance Reports (1999-2005) and the Annual Reports to Parliament on Immigration (2001-2006).
  25. The Sponsorship Agreement states that the “SAH is responsible for monitoring its CGs or G5s…..and their undertakings,” however there is no formal mechanism included in the agreement which would facilitate the provision of this information.
  26. The community sponsor element has recently been added to the PSR Program and submission volumes under this category are very small. Therefore, this group has not been included in the evaluation.
  27. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. In-Canada Processing of Convention Refugees Abroad and Members of the Humanitarian Protected Persons Abroad Classes, page 112.
  28. Including: In-Canada Processing of Convention Refugees Abroad and Members of the Humanitarian Protected Persons Abroad Classes (IP 3)*, the Overseas Selection and Processing of Convention Refugees Abroad Class and Members of the Humanitarian-protected Persons Abroad Class (OP 5), and the Sponsorship Agreement and the Guide to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.
  29. Citizenship and Immigration Canada.  IP 3: In Canada Processing of Convention Refugees Abroad and Members of the Humanitarian Protected Persons Abroad Classes, page 1.
  30. Note that the change in the relative number of submissions from SAHs and G5s between 1994 and 1997 may have been due to definitional changes introduced in the 1997 Sponsorship Agreements, which had previously been called Master Agreements.
  31. CGs submit applications for sponsorship through their SAHs.
  32. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. 2005 Report: A Strategic Analysis & Summary of Trends, page 6. Note that this was the first year that CIC compiled information from the SAH annual reports.
  33. Operations Branch indicated that inventory levels began being tracked in 2002; therefore, no previous data is available.
  34. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Sponsorship Agreement, page 7, section 5a.
  35. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Guide to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, page 8, section 2.9
  36. These figures were compiled from the SAH and CG/G5 survey.
  37. Note that the high incidence of information requests from SAHs and CGs is consistent with information gathered through the interviews and focus groups that suggests there is a lack of formal information dissemination on the status of sponsorship applications.
  38. The data for GAR refusal rates excludes source country (RS).
  39. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Analysis of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program Blitz. Note that a person could be found to be ineligible based on multiple reasons, which is why these percentages add to more than 100 percent.
  40. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Refugee Sponsorship Application: Sponsorship Agreement Holders and Constituent Groups, page 4.
  41. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Guide to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, p. 7.
  42. Consulting and Audit Canada. Analysis of a Sample of Refugee Sponsors, 2002.
  43. Note that the 55 percent was calculated using LSIC data which indicated that 64 percent of privately sponsored refugees had taken some form of training within the first six months after arrival and of these, 87 percent had taken language training.
  44. The difference between PSR and GAR earnings for those who arrived between 1990 and 1994 is substantial, and cannot be explained without further analysis of the data. This was beyond the scope of this evaluation.
  45. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Evaluation of the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP), page 19.
  46. Note that the PSR data does not add to 100 percent due to the fact that the number of responses in the other two categories were too few to be released.
  47. Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Evaluation of the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP), page 29.
  48. For more information, see http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/outside/resettle-gov.asp.
  49. To obtain the operating budget for the GAR program, figures for administration costs (5.8 million), obtained from the Cost Management Model, were added to the funding allocated to GARs for income support and resettlement services through the Resettlement Assistance Program (44 million).
  50. These figures were calculated on a median basis because there was such a wide range of responses provided by survey respondents.
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