Canada announces 3 new initiatives to welcome and support more refugees

News release

June 18, 2021—Ottawa—The world is facing a refugee crisis. Across the globe, millions are displaced and longing for what most of us take for granted: a safe place to call home. As a global leader in protecting those who need it most, Canada welcomed nearly half of all refugees resettled around the world in 2020. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recently called Canada “a bright light in a horrible year for refugee resettlement.”

Our efforts are making a difference—yet the world’s most vulnerable are counting on us to do more. In advance of World Refugee Day, the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, met with UNHCR’s representative in Canada, Rema Jamous Imseis, to announce 3 new initiatives to assist even more refugees.

These important steps will help Canada offer asylum to more people who need it, welcome more refugees through new channels and increase support to those welcomed through community sponsorship.

Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot

Launched in 2018, the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) is a ground-breaking initiative that recognizes the talents and skills of refugees by welcoming them through economic immigration streams. This not only allows Canada to welcome more refugees, but also flips the stereotype of refugees as solely victims by demonstrating all that they contribute to our country. Today, the Minister announced a new policy that will help settle 500 refugees and their families.

The new measures will improve the EMPP process by

  • expediting the processing of permanent residence applications for EMPP applicants in several streams, so they can start working and contributing faster
  • making it easier for refugees under EMPP to get settlement funds
  • waiving fees for permanent residence applications
  • making the application process more flexible
  • providing pre-departure medical services to assist with immigration medical exams

Protected persons in Canada

Despite the many challenges of the pandemic, Canada’s asylum levels have remained stable. We are now building on this success by increasing the number of protected persons we’ll welcome this year from 23,500 to 45,000. We will also expedite the processing of applications, meaning that more protected persons can quickly become permanent residents and put down roots in their communities.

Currently, there are over 40,000 protected persons and their dependants residing in Canada with open permanent residence applications. In 2021, almost 17,900 protected persons became permanent residents.

Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program is a world-leading initiative, helping us welcome more refugees and better equipping them for lasting success. Since it began over 5 decades ago, private sponsors have welcomed more than 350,000 refugees to Canada. This program is now emulated all over the world, from the United Kingdom and the European Union to New Zealand, and the US has committed to creating one as well.

To further strengthen this program, IRCC recently launched a national call for proposals to improve existing pre- and post-arrival support services for private sponsors and ensure refugees take full advantage of the assistance offered to them. As a result of this process, up to $3 million over 2 years will be invested in supporting 9 organizations.


“This year’s World Refugee Day comes at a challenging time, because the pandemic has made the situation worse. That’s why Canada is redoubling its efforts to welcome refugees. When others close their doors, we keep them open. We will keep looking for new ways to support and welcome refugees, because offering refuge to the world’s most vulnerable speaks to who we are as Canadians.”

—The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Quick facts

  • Throughout the pandemic, Canada is one of few countries that never closed its doors and continued to resettle refugees.

  • In 2018, Canada committed to resettling 10,000 refugees from Africa and the Middle East by 2020. Despite COVID-19 challenges and travel restrictions, Canada delivered on its Middle East commitment, and will soon do so for Africa.

  • In 2019, Canada resettled more than 30,000 refugees. Refugee resettlement during the pandemic has been limited by many factors, including travel restrictions. Despite these challenges, we welcomed over 9,200 refugees in 2020.

  • In December 2020, Canada started to accept applications for permanent residence from pending and unsuccessful refugee claimants who worked in Canada’s health care sector and provided direct care to patients during the pandemic. As of May 29, 2021, approximately 4,345 applications had been received.

  • Refugees who face immediate risks may be resettled under Canada’s Urgent Protection Program. This program provides expedited resettlement to refugees whose life, liberty or safety is immediately threatened.

  • In July, the Government of Canada will become the second Chair of the Central America and Mexico Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (MIRPS) Support Platform. Canada will champion the issue of protection, meaningful participation and the empowerment of displaced women and girls. This theme will provide opportunities for Canadian leadership in putting women, girls and those vulnerable to gender-based violence, including LGBTQ2 communities, at the heart of solutions.

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Contacts for media only

Alexander Cohen
Minister’s Office
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

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